A Wild Idea…

Okay Friends,

I am going out on a limb and going to try something different this fall with the kids. I am looking for ideas, help, partners, feedback? (Please, only positive feedback as I am aware that this is a crazy idea!)

My inspirations:1) an amazing old pastor we met that has read his entire Bible every three months… For forty years!2) people who do extreme things to follow their passions like, for example, the authors of The Hundred Mile Diet who were so passionate about healthful eating that they only ate food that was produced within a hundred miles of their home for a whole year, and
3) a sweet homeschooling family that attended a YWAM training week where (university aged) students read the whole Bible in a week. The older children in this family, aged seven and nine, participated in the full week and read the whole Bible with the other, much older students.

So… I have been praying about doing something special with our studies that would embrace our passions as well and have been impressed with this idea: we would like to start our school year by reading the whole Bible together in chronological order. I don’t think we can do it in a week but maybe in two weeks or three. Our hope is to start on September 8th.

We will take turns reading corporately, will use some audio Bible and will also do some of the reading privately (for those old enough) and maybe with other friends for a bit, too.  I think we will try to make a timeline or keep our books of centuries handy as well as maps of the holy land.  I will likely have the girls do some narrative drawings or paintings while they listen daily.  I want to keep it fairly simple though.
My understanding is that it takes about 70 hours to read the Bible in full. That means it would take about 6 hours per day if done in two weeks with lesser readings on the weekend or would take about 4 hours per day if done in three weeks with lesser readings on the weekends.

What I’m looking for:1) Advice, ideas, encouragement?2) Comrades? Would anyone like to join us for encouragement, company and accountability? If you live nearby, we could meet up at a park a few days a week and read together and then take a break and play.

I am fully aware that we may not be able to fully finish this or may end up drawing it out and that we will miss many of the nuances that a slow and thoughtful read would give. On the other hand, I have found a “bird’s eye-view” very refreshing and have learned a lot from more intensive reading on my own lately.  I also realize that my younger kids will likely skip out on some reading and that’s okay, too.  I figure though that we can’t really go wrong by setting aside a special time to read the Bible intensively and that our reading, writing and ‘rithmetic studies can’t be terribly thrown off by starting a few weeks later than usual. I think that this can be a great educational experience as well a spiritual one.

Thoughts? Thanks.

Peace,

Cori

Maple Tree Publications
www.mapletreepublications.ca

905.778.9412

32 Pairs of Socks

For Christmas my family tends to get practical things in their stockings as well as an orange and a candy or two.  Fairly predictable.  More often than not, this means that Christmas time is a time to restock on socks.  And, boy, did we need socks!  It seems that we are constantly rifling through the clean laundry looking for a pair of socks for the day.  How nice to feel like we are restocked and spoilt again in the New Year. 

But here is the catch, as I sat trying to catch up on the laundry this past week, reveling in how nice it is to be healthy again (after sharing all together in being dragged down by a horrible cold/flu virus all through the holidays), I realized that maybe I had erred in the sock purchases over the holidays.  You see, I sat for a quite moment – probably a good half hour – and sorted out half a dozen piles of “what belongs to who” and then proceeded to start the pairing…  I paired up Hubby’s socks and tucked them away, then I folded mine.  32 pairs of socks.  No, not his and mine.  I folded 32 pairs of my socks.  Really?  Do I really have 32 pairs of socks…. And that would also imply that it’s been a month since I last folded socks…  And that it will also likely be another month before I am sufficiently motivated to fold socks again.  Sigh!

How often is my life like this?  I invest time, or energy, space, or money in something that is meant to help or simplify life and yet makes no difference or a negative one.  I was thinking this when I considered other things in my little world too.  How often have we “needed” a new book or curriculum that only seemed to make us busier but not smarter?  How often have I stuck with an old activity while adding a new one on to our already busy schedule and hoped to be able to fit it all in? 

I know that New Years is a time for resolutions and reflections but I don’t tend to like to follow the crowd and don’t want to make these grand commitments to change just because everyone else is.  I do however want to continually be striving to be all that God created me – and my family – to be so New Years is as good a time as any to strengthen my resolve.      

So I am strengthening my resolve to strive for the purpose and simplicity that we set out for so long ago in our family life.  I want to constantly question why we do things and how we could do them better.  In our school this year, that has meant lightening some of our work load to be able to focus on other things.  Namely, we chose to take a break from reading and writing curriculums so that we could spend more time just reading and writing.  Sounds simple, I know, but it has been revolutionary.  The kids and I are so enjoying just reading a lot together.  It’s been fun to take the time to make cards, write letters, to teach them to blog and to write out their thoughts on the things that they are learning, to listen to a beautiful poem or Bible verse or saying and to set it aside for later to be copied and kept.

Now, as I try to jam my 32 pairs of socks into a too-small drawer, I am reflecting on other ways to keep it simple in areas that I tend to invite the complicated, ways to redeem wasted moments that could be used more wisely.  I think that one thing we will do is to read our Bible more, to simply enjoy it as literature with our other readings rather than parsing the meanings to death.  Teaching my children to view the world through a biblical lens can only be enhanced by reading the Bible more and discussing all of life in light of the living word of scripture.  It seems to me like a spectacular way to continue to “throw off everything that hinders” so that we can “run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us” knowing that to “fix our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1,2) will only bring us closer to that ideal that we strive for.

Blessings, Friends, as you strive to be all that you were created to be in 2013!

Happy New Year,

Cori

www.mapletreepublications.ca
mapletreepublications@sympatico.ca
905-778-9412

Mother Culture: Notes on A Biblical Home Education, Chapter Two: History


from November 1, 2012

 

Friends, even with the help of the wonderfully efficient and organized Jacki Young, I have been negligent in getting these notes to you.  If you are new to our little spot here “Under the Maple Tree” then please join our little group.  You will find details here about this actual and virtual support group and our first set of notes here.  In short, we meet as a small support group to learn from one another and a good book as well as to encourage and spur one another on in this crazy homeschooling life.  This year our book of choice is A Biblical Home Education by Dr. Ruth Beechick.  If you are interested in joining us even if only virtually, then the book is available through Maple Tree.  Contact me, Cori, for ordering information.

 

If you are following our little group online, or if you missed the meeting in person, or if you were here and wanted to look over the ideas and resources that we discussed then please enjoy the notes below with thanks to the great Jacki Young.

 

——————

 

Beechick writes, “We must match history to the Bible – not only its timeline and chronology, but also the principles and the meanings we attach to it.” (p.23)

 

It is difficult to find resources that integrate Bible with history. Here are some suggestions:

o www.dianawaring.com – “Ancient Civilizations” curriculum and other resources for integrating Bible and History

o History resources from Simplecharlottemason.com

o A Story of the World – keep in mind that the Bible is treated as literature, not as core

o www.jonathanpark.com – Jonathan Parks CDs

o Mystery of History – in this curriculum the Bible isn’t just integrated but is the core of history

 

Beechick encourages us to “resist the hype” i.e. set realistic goals for history (p.39)

o Don’t try to do too many activities; rather, focus on the reading

o Notebooking and reading work well with multiple age levels

 

There are benefits to reading in short spurts or in longer chunks

o Good to stop before seeing the “glazed look” in their eyes

o Leave them wanting more and excited to see what happens when reading is resumed

o Reading for longer chunks allows more depth of study

 

There are many benefits to using extra-Biblical sources to study Ancient history:

o Helps us understand that the world is bigger than Biblical history

o Integrates Bible and History to help us see parallels – things happening at the same time in different places in world

o Helps to lend credibility to Bible

o Helps to give place in history

o Artifacts also give credibility to Bible

o Shows the contradictions between the Bible and History eg. we know from the Bible that people were made smart (no cavemen); this contradicts common “History”

o We need the whole picture to argue our point eg. To discuss evolution vs the Bible

o Enables us to stand up for our beliefs even if persecuted

o If we can stand up for our beliefs, we will “stand before kings”:

“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men. ” Proverbs 22:29

 

Today, history is not necessarily taught in society; instead, an “individual history” is emphasized

o Charlotte Mason thought history should be taught so that students could “think justly of what is occurring today” (“Home Education”, p. 169)

o Understanding history helps us to be less self-focused

 
Where should a homeschooling parent start with history? Some suggestions:

o My Father’s World website www.mfwbooks.com

§ Integrates Bible and “History”

§ Can be too repetitive depending on your style/taste

o Mystery of History (available through Maple Tree)

o 50 Famous Stories by James Baldwin – stories of heroes & famous men (available as a free ebook or on www.librivox.org for free audio download)

o An Island Story by H.E. Marshall (Recommended on Amblesideonline.org) (also available free online)

o “Trial and Triumph” by R. Hannula – stories of heroes of church history

 
Building a timeline

o Create a timeline (either on the wall or “Book of Centuries”)

– some suggested delaying timelines until grade 3 and later while others started them earlier

o Various websites can help you make one eg. Knowledgequest.com

o Cori has made a timeline book; request the file if you are interested

o Simplycharlottemason.com has 2 versions of a “book of centuries”. One is free, while the other costs but includes categories ie. Art, culture, religion, etc.

 
For good history book lists, refer to the following resources:

o Through the Ages by Christine Miller

o Amblesideonline.org

o Sonlight.com

o Cmhelp.com

o Greenleaf Press

o A Story of the World

o Heartofwisdom.com (Biblical history)

o Classicalhomeschooling.org
o See also great series like Our Canadian Girl, the Dear Canada diary series, and the Canadian Flyer series for Canadian history
 

Beechick’s categorization of history differs from most. It is not divided according to Jesus life/death:

1) Early Times (Creation – Abraham)

2) Kingdom of Israel(Father Abraham – Fall of Judah)

3) Gentile Kingdoms (Captivity of Israel & Judah – God’s kingdom on Earth)

According to Beechick, the statue from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2 “shows the whole history of the Gentile world from Babylon through to the kingdom of Christ” (p.32-33)

o This image is also studied in Precept Bible Studies for kids by Kay Arthur

 

We also took some time to discuss Living books and in short these are some of the notes that we had on them.

 

Living Books

 

What are living books?

o Whole books written by a single author where the subject is a “favourite” of author. We can share the author’s enthusiasm for the topic as we read. (S. Schaeffer McCauley)

o Special interest books that could be fiction or non-fiction (K. Andreola)

o A simple test of a good book is if kids are interested after reading one page (K. Andreola)

 
Some examples of living books:

o Apologia books

o Andrew Lang fairy books

o Trailblazer Books by Dave & Neta Jackson (unfortunately out of print) *Maple Tree has found a few of these still available new – let me know if you would like a title or two.

o Check out www.amblesideonline.orgfor excellent reading lists of living books.

o See also Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt and Books Children Love to Read by Elizabeth Wilson for excellent living book bibliographies.
 
Well, there are a few notes to get you started friends. :) I’m again looking forward to hearing some feedback. To those of you who were there, is there anything we missed? I’m sure there are more resources you can recommend.  If you weren’t there, what are your thoughts? What were the take away lessons that have challenged you or have helped in your home school recently? Please try to post your comments directly on the blog (rather than replying if you are receiving this as an email) so that we can all participate in the conversation.
 
I will try to get the notes to you for Decemeber’s meeting in the next few days and am looking forward to seeing some of you in person later this week!
 
Blessings,
 
Cori 
 
Maple Tree Publications
905-778-9412 

Mother Culture: Notes on A Biblical Home Education, Introduction and Chapter One

From our first meeting of the year…

September 20, 2012

Knowing that I didn’t do an exemplary job at sharing notes after meetings last year, Jacki Young, who is graciously co-leading our study group has also heroically offered to share her notes on the meetings.  I have cut and pasted her notes below and added a few thoughts of my own.  (The good stuff is Jacki’s writing; the muttering is mine.  Thank you for your grace in wading through my mutterings.)  Jacki has not only provided a summary of the ideas presented in the book but has also added in some of the thoughts, suggestions, ideas, and musings that we enjoyed during the evening.

General comments about the book:

          Does not have as many practical suggestions as expected.  Perhaps other Ruth Beechick books would fill in the gaps?  See for example The Three R’s (practical suggestions for kindergarten through grade 2) or You Can Teach Your Child Successfully(Grades 3 and up).  Ruth Beechick also has several other writings that would be worth looking at.  I (Cori) liked this article: http://creation.com/images/pdfs/home-school-corner/teaching-writing/6627how-not-teach-writing.pdf

          There are a number of assumptions that Dr. Beechick has made from the start of this study such as that we already feel confident in the choice to home educate and that the Bible is wholely true.  She doesn’t leave room for discussion of these ideas in this volume assumedly because she feels that the title A Biblical Home Education ensures that her readers have already grappled with these issues

          Would like more details on how to teach Bible as literature ie. Hebrew poetry

          Dr. Beechick distinguishes between language learning and content learning and encourages students to improve their language skills by using them in the content subjects

          Recent blog articles on simplycharlottemason.com might help with teaching individual subjects (17 part series).  Refer to:

o        http://simplycharlottemason.com/series/subject-by-subject/

Chapter 1 – Bible

          The Bible is essential for literacy because it is the most widely referenced book

          The Bible and Bible storybooks are important for teaching doctrine and for teaching Bible as literature; can be used as main textbook for home school.  An interesting difference from the stance that Charlotte Mason had as she wasn’t very much in favour of using Bible Storybooks.  Charlotte Mason felt that the Bible was story book enough and that any other story books pre-digested the truths for the children, and dumbed down the language.  Hmm, food for thought.

          Reading the whole Bible (not just passages) ensures that parents cannot take verses out of context eg. to manipulate children to doing right

          Old Testament stories point to Jesus (this is a “type”); this is evident in Jesus Storybook Bible and Mystery of History resources

          Put Bible readings in history.  Biblical history and the rest of history mustn’t be separated!

          Beechick says, “Chronological order does not help in the early years”.  As we teach the Bible and History over and over again, children of different ages will hear the cycle a number of times and understand the chronology.  Again, a departure from Charlotte Mason’s style and worth pondering.

          Beechick’s process of a child learning to understanding analogy:

o        Analogies of actions

o        Analogies of actors

o        The objects in the analogies

          There are parallels with the three stages of classical education:

o        Grammar (facts & stories)

o        Dialectic (why?)

o        Rhetorical (what do I think?)

          Do we censor the Bible when reading to young children?  WE use discretion as parents to ensure readings are “age appropriate”

          Other helpful Bible resources:

o        Children’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos

o        “What’s in the Bible?” DVD series by Phil Vischer

o        Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible on librivox.org

          Some considerations when choosing a version of the Bible to use:

o        Beechick’s history of modern day Bible translations is “limited” eg. King James Version was not “thrown out” when other versions written

o        Different versions had different goals in translation; some Bibles are paraphrases, not translations eg. The Message

o        Some modern day translations have truncated verses eg. In 1 Tim 2:5, studying refers to studying God’s word, not just studying in general

o        King James version is better written (quality, cadence, flow, etc.); familiarity with KJV enables students to read other difficult classic literature sooner

_____

Wow!  Thank you Jackifor giving such thorough feedback on the book and the meeting.

I’m also looking forward to hearing some feedback.  To those of you who were there, is there anything we missed?  If you weren’t there, what are your thoughts?  What were the take away lessons that have challenged you or have helped in your home school recently?  Please try to post your comments directly on the blog (rather than replying if you are receiving this as an email) so that we can all participate in the conversation.

Looking forward to the next meeting on November 1stwhen we will look at Chapter 2: “World History to Match the Bible”!

Blessings, Friends!

Cori

Maple Tree Publications

www.mapletreepublications.ca

Book Suggestions From This Meeting:

(Many of these are regularly in stock at Maple Tree.  Most of the rest can be ordered through Maple Tree.  Call or email for details as not all of our regular stock is listed on the website.)

The Three R’s

You Can Teach Your Child Successfully
A Biblical Home Education
Jesus Storybook Bible
Mystery of History
Children’s Story Bible
What’s in the Bible?
Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible
The Bible: many favourite versions and paraphrases include: King James Version, New International Version, New American Standard Version, the Message, and others…

New Stuff!

It’s been a while since my last post since we officially entered “conference season” at the end of March and I have had to spend more time in the “real world”.  I wanted to send you all a quick note though, before I head out to Ottawa for this weekend’s RVHEA conference, to let you know a bit of what is going on here Under the Maple Tree. 

For more than a decade, Maple Tree has been committed to bringing you spectacular homegrown Canadian homeschool resources.  In the past few years though as I have been out at conferences and enjoying many yummy chats with all of you we have often talked about wonderful books that weren’t on our publication list.  After a chat about one great resource or another the inevitable question was, “Can I get that from you?”  I was pleased to be able to point my friends to where they could seek out some of these yummy resources but have decided to stream line the process for you (and to work harder at paying for our own piano lessons rather than at padding some other retailer’s bottom line). 

So, in light of the fact that we love the principles of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy of Education, we have expanded out product line and now carry many of the essentials of a Charlotte Mason education

I do plan to send you some more info in the near future on these products but, in short, we can now provide you with:

– Life of Fred Math
– Learning Language Arts Through Literature
– Mystery of History
– and Apologia Science

As well as many Charlotte Mason style Bible and parent resources.  We have been slowing adding products to the website so check back there as we continue to make updates but also feel free to email or call for more information.  I’d be happy to try to help you find the resource that you are looking for.  For now, our product line is fairly simple (though it is a big and exciting change here in our little corner of the world) as we aim to provide at least some essentials of a Charlotte Mason education.

Don’t forget that Maple Tree was founded on amazing Canadian resources that we continue to provide: Working Together, Come Sit By Me and the Great Canadian ArtPak to name a few. 

Please stop by our virtual store as you plan to visit your local conference or to order books for you next school year.

And if you are going to be at one of the remaining conferences that I will be at (Ottawa, Hamilton, Barrie, Brantford, or Toronto) please come and say hello!  I’d love to chat with you in real life!

Blessings,

Cori

Mother Culture: Nurture

Can it really be only a few days until our next Charlotte Mason gathering in Bradford?  I am very much looking forward to it but sad that I can’t squish everyone in my little living room anymore…  Sigh!  Regardless, I love getting together with all of you in person or in spirit through our virtual wanderings.  If you are reading this to brush up on what we chatted about at our last meeting then forgive me for missing so much.  I was too distracted and self-absorbed that night (and have been quite a bit since then, too.)  If you missed the meeting or are just too far away to join us then I beg your patience since I must skip over so much good stuff that we chatted about in order to actually get this little note out to you.

Thank you all for your grace in my silence when I promised to share some notes from our gatherings.  Here’s my little bit…

We discussed chapters 3 and 4 from Educating the WholeHearted Child: “Home Nurture: Shepherding Your Child’s Spirit to Long for God” and “Home Discipleship: Shaping Your Child’s Heart to Love for God”.  Practically, we also looked at the first part of chapter 11 on Language Arts which I will try to summarize that in a later posting.

Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up [nurture them] in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Nurture is more than just checking off your spiritual teaching from a daily checklist of “educational things to do”, more than filling your day with praiseworthy things and activities.  When we make the decision to homeschool, I think that we all struggle with wanting to help our kids to have a proper Christian education and yet we don’t want to minimize faith to a subject in school.  What are some ways that you, Friends, help to take spiritual development beyond being a simple subject to learn?

We talked about making sure that Bible reading time wasn’t just done during school hours, that we needed to model for our kids both our devotional time and that we serve others as a manifestation of our faith.  But biblical nurturing is more than that.  Biblical nurturance of our children must be a constant and ongoing investment in the growth of and caring for the faith of the children that we have been entrusted to raise!

The Clarksons write (on page 47), “If the purpose of biblical nurture is to feed your children with God’s life, then it must involve more than just doing Christian things at home.  Biblical nurture opens windows for God’s life-giving grace to enter your children’s hearts.  God does this by way of His Word (“Scripture is grace in print”), prayer (“Prayer is grace in words”), and Fellowship (“Fellowship is grace in person”).

Then they went on to give a model of home nurture.  (Good, I needed some concrete instruction!)  Their model follows the acronym GIFTS and show five key areas that we should work to develop as we nurture our children in the training and instruction of the Lord.  Note that the different areas span the spectrum of desire at one end to ability at the other.  In other words, to nurture desire for God we focus on heart issues through Grace and Inspiration, whereas we use our abilities in Training and Service to develop the hands that do.  All of this is anchored together in the centre at the heart with faith:

Grace: “The gift of grace is the desire and ability to relate personally and purposefully to God and people.  The gift of grace prepares your children to become channels of God’s grace and love to other people.”

Inspiration; “The gift of inspiration is the desire and ability to view all of life in the light of God’s sovereignty and purpose.”  Inspiration helps your children to live with hope in a fallen world.

Faith; “The gift of faith is the desire and ability to study God’s word and apply its truths to every area of life.”  Faith is the heart of these gifts.

Training; “The gift of training is the desire and ability to grow in Christian maturity in the power of the Holy Spirit.”  This is more than just training in right conduct or knowledge but also in choosing what is right to do and doing it.

Service; “The gift of service is the desire and ability to minister God’s grace and truth to the needs of others.”

Some action points (A muddle of ideas that we chatted about and suggestions from the reading):
*Visit elderly neighbours, family members or church family to help and encourage them.
*Practice hospitality.
*Make meals for families with new babies or who are struggling with illness.
*Shovel the neighbours driveway or plant some flowers in their garden.
*Have a weekly family games night in which you practice good sportsmanship.
*Have regular personal and family devotions.
*Read the biographies of Christian heroes.
*Share answers to prayer with one another.
*Discuss questions of faith and belief.
*Learn together about biblical truths, history and wisdom.
*Allow kids to hear the scriptures and to understand them themselves without having to “dumb down” the language or to be given the moral of the story.
*Practice godly disciplines like tithing, good stewardship, submission to authority.
*Develop your own list of family values.
*Get involved in service projects.
*Keep a garden of blessings (the produce of which goes to a food bank or other food distribution agency).

Please, Friends, share some of the ways that you keep the faith alive in your home…

Talk soon,

Cori

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