Wednesday, April 16, 2014

C.S. Lewis

In the less than eloquent, albeit sincere, words of Thing1,

"C.S. Lewis sure did write some good books."

Monday, April 7, 2014

Don't forget the audiobooks.

One of my blog's purposes is to remind me of the "every day" of our homeschool experience. It's amazing the details I forget over the course of a year. Today I want to make sure I remember the hours we've spent in audiobooks.

Why did we learn so much more when we experienced it in a story?

Jim Weiss said (in an interview with Leigh Bortins on the 11/20/2013 edition of Leigh at Lunch) that it is because "Story hits you simultaneously in the head and the heart."

Why did we choose to experience the stories through audio books instead of movies or dramatized audio versions?

Mr. Weiss nailed it again. "I don't think we are doing our kids any favor to assume that they are unable to love and listen to something unless all the bells and whistles are there."

What if I could not find a book on my kids' levels?

Kids can appreciate (with practice) a much more complicated story than they can read by themselves. To me, the purpose of reading aloud (or audiobooks) is to expose our kids (and ourselves) to material that is beyond their levels. Say one of the boys heard a big, unfamiliar word while he was listening. Next time he heard the word, it was a familiar word. The third time time he heard it, he probably figured out exactly what it meant.

What if my kids would not pay attention to a long story?

I didn't expect them to at first. It took a lot of exposure before they were hooked. I found that a perfect time for exposing the kids to stories was in the car. They were captive! They may not have paid perfect attention, but it was there, and they eventually grew to appreciate them, then request them every time we got into the car.

Wouldn't it have been better if I read them the story myself rather than listening to a recording?

Yes, and I've tried to read to them as much as possible. But when what I read to them is all they got, it was not enough for their listening appetites. It just does not seem feasible for me to sit and read for hours a day. Plus, it's just plain fun to hear a professional read a story.

What books have we listened to?

Most of the memory on my phone is taken up by audio books.  The boys each have a cheap mp3 player loaded with audio books.  When we go to the library, we usually take away at least one audio book.

Our book selections usually go through phases. Thank goodness our Hank the Cowdog phase has died. It was fun for the first dozen books. Now the phase is Homer Price. Every single night.

Our first audiobooks were the Winnie The Pooh books. Remember about the captive audience? That's what I think of when I remember the Pooh CD's.

Thing1 listened to The Hobbit when he was 5. We should do that again. I think it was the voice of the narrator and the language that captivated him. I know he remembers nothing about it now. Thing2's 4- to 5-year-old favorites were Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Little House in the Big Woods and Farmer Boy.

Trumpet of the Swan was good because E.B. White read it. I am anxious to listen to him read Charlotte's Web. Anything narrated by the author fascinates me.

The Railway Children was good. It stretched Thing1 when he was about 6.

The whole family listened to Where the Red Fern Grows on a road trip recently. If we didn't all cry, we all almost cried. Everybody was paying attention, captive or not.  101 Dalmations stands out as another great road trip story because of its fun factor for the whole family.

In addition to serving as incredible learning tools that have stretched our minds and imaginations, audiobooks have entertained us together and occupied us separately. They have shortened car rides and made bedtime a little more tolerable. They have been a huge part of our homeschool's "every day."

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Yesterday was unusual because Thing1 and I had a day to ourselves at home.

Instead of regular schoolwork (you know, where he checks off his predictable, everyday tasks as he does them), we did real life. I was chill. Chill is usually not my strong suit.

He recently discovered he could make cookies by himself, so he decided to use that for his weekly presentation. (Every Tuesday the kids have to give a presentation in front of other homeschoolers.)

First, he typed out the recipe to hand out to his classmates. Honestly, he typed the ingredients, and I typed the directions. It was quite a task for a hunt-and-peck 8-year-old. We discussed margins, page layout and setup, and the function of the shift key. I am determined that next year he will learn to type for real.

Next, he made the cookies. He learned that brown sugar is difficult to measure when it gets hard. He pointed out that the package says to store it in an airtight container. Yes, sir. I will try to do better in the future. The cookies were good. Too good. Much better than the last time he made them.

He listed three things he learned about cookie making, packed up the recipe cards and cookies, and the presentation prep was done.

Later, we reviewed some memory work. He and I both aspire to be Memory Masters this year, so we took turns asking each other questions. (Have you ever noticed how much more seriously a kid takes something when the parent asks for his help? Interesting.) We had fun using dry erase markers on our new, huge, European blackline map. The kid loves maps.

We never cracked a workbook all day long, but we were busy learning all day.

Before he went to bed last night, he hugged me and told me spontaneously that he had a great day and that he loved me. A little affirmation goes a long way with this Mama.

Monday, February 3, 2014


The more I learn, the less I know.

Before studying or experiencing a subject (blue), my perception of my knowledge (red) might look like this:

I used to think that after studying and experiencing the subject, the subject:knowledge ratio would change to this:
I have learned that as I gather knowledge about something, the subject seems to get larger, and the amount of knowledge smaller in comparison.
This convinces me that knowledge alone is not enough. Instead of an end in itself, knowledge should be a stepping stone toward understanding and wisdom.

Monday, December 23, 2013

When You Were Alive

Thing2 exclaimed, "Hey, this book is about knights, Uh-gyp-shin warriors and Arkansas."

"You mean United States?"

"Oh, yeah. This oughtta be intruh-sting!"

Later, after poring over the pictures and discussing with his dad whether or not there was a World War III...

"Mama, you know the soldiers who had triangle hats in Arkansas?"

"You mean United States?"

"Yeah. United States. You know, the ones when you were alive."

"I wasn't alive."

My birthday is coming up, which reminds me of my advancing age, but, really, the Revolutionary War was a few years before my time.

The book is Great Events that Changed the World by Brian Delf and Richard Platt. It really is intruh-sting.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Confession of Projectophobia on Project Day

I have projectophobia, a fear of projects.  Glue and paint make me nervous. Hearing the word glitter triggers hypertension.  The finished - or half finished - product usually starts out in a place of honor and then migrates around the house until it is so old that nobody cares that it is finally thrown away.  For these reasons, I usually choose flat projects that can be notebooked or adapt projects to Legos.

In spite of my projectophobia, or maybe because of it, today is project day. Instead of our daily work (except math), we are doing projects.

We made a statue of Alfred the Great from Story of the World Middle Ages.
Alfred the Great
"The land ravaged by a fearful enemy from which he delivered it."
 We used butter and flour to simulate the lava hardening into rock on the surface of Venus from Exploring Creation With Astronomy.

We used flour and pebbles to simulate asteroids making craters on Mercury, also from Exploring Creation With Astronomy.

My irrelevant misgivings (we will not get our daily work done, which will show up at the end of the year; there will be extra messes to clean up, which takes time; etc.) are outweighed by the kids' delight.

At least there is no glitter.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Shopping

Something to wear, something to read, something you want, something you need.

I love that gift giving guide, but I went a little beyond it this year. is our "something to read" for this year:
I am excited!

By the way, the store of the year for our family is JM Cremp's, The Boys Adventure Store. It has been so much fun shopping there!