Posts Tagged ‘homeschool plans’

Living Books on the Middle Ages

Dear Reader,

The first two terms of this year we have been studying the Middle Ages. I have gone back to Heritage History for a lot of our resources. If you are willing to use older books (which are often better anyway) and don’t mind have them in a digital format, this is a wonderful site.  As we did when the kids were younger, we went through the Middle Ages once in broader perspective in the first 12-week term and then once focusing in on specific countries in our second term.  The third term of this year we will spend on other, non-western cultures before moving on to modern history next year. You can find all my lists of living books here.

Living Books on the Middle Ages

History of the Middle Ages in Europe —

My high school senior read The Story of Europe by H.E. Marshall. I really like Marshall’s books for history. I skimmed a number of others and though this one is easier than some (it could even be used for elementary though Heritage History puts it in the middle school category) it is one of the most engaging and covers a lot of ground. [She also had a lot of other things going on this year so I was trying not to overburden her.]

My middle schooler read S.B. Harding’s Story of the Middle Ages and Eva Marie Tappan’s When Knights were Bold. Tappan is another favorite author (I much prefer her books on Greece and Rome to those of Geurber). When Knights were Bold  is more about the culture and society of the time.

My ninth grader read The Middle Ages by Dorothy Mills. I haven’t been equally pleased with all her books but Mills is a solid author popular in homeschooling circles.

Church History and Art —

The first term I read aloud a book that we happened to hae picked up somewhere which focuses on the interplay of church and government in the Middle Ages called The Middle Ages: An Illustrated History of the Church from 900 to 1300.

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This is probably a middle school level book or even upper elementary. The chapters are short, about a double-sided page each, and there are lots of pictures. It is actually quite good for having a group narrate as you can read one chapter/page, have a child narrate, and then another and the next child narrates and so on. Though perhaps not the most living book, it definitely gives you a feel for the issues relating to the church in the Middle Ages.

We also read through the relevant portions of V.M. Hillyer’s A Child’s History of Art. Though this is an elementary level book, it does a good job of introducing the art of a certain time. Note that there are various versions of this book. You may see slim volumes that cover one subject, architecture or painting or sculpture. We have a thicker volume which includes all three.

My two younger children also read Monks and Mystics by Mindy and Brandon Withrow. This is volume two of a four-volume series on church history which is very good. My one criticism of it would be that it is a bit undiscriminating in whom it considers a hero of the faith, including people from a wide range of theological positions.

Literature from the Middle Ages

We read a version of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales together. I happened to find the version edited by Peter Ackroyd used so that is what we used. The original tales are bawdy and this version includes those bits so I was discriminating. We did not read every tale and I occasionally edited on the spot while reading aloud.

My ninth grader read T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. There are a lot of versions of the tales  of King Arthur but White’s is a classic.

My senior read James Baldwin’s The Story of Roland. This seems to be a good retelling of the classic story.

In the second term, we read  Ian Seraillier’s Beowulf, the Warrior. Again, there are many versions of this story. This one is fairly short. I was very pleased that my children seemed to remember the story from our previous bout through the Middle ages.

We also began The Story of Abelard’s Adversities, a fairly short version of the story edited by J.T. Muckle. I was not very familiar with this story and we ended up giving up on the book. It was not the castration bit which turned me off. That part of the story was actually exciting. Most of the book Abelard spends talking about how much smarter he is than everyone else and it is rather tiresome.

We did not read any Robin Hood this time but in the past we have read Howard Pyle’s version.

Historical Fiction about the Middle Ages

My middle schooler read Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray. This is a solid book that you will find on many lists I am sure. She also read The White Company by Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes books.

My ninth grader read Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle. Pyle is an older author well-known for his historical books.

There a quite a number of books on this period; it seems to have captured the imagination of authors. Some that we have read in the past in various contexts are: The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli; the Crispin books by Avi; The Midwife’s Apprentice and other books by Kate Cushman; The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly (an absolute must read); and  The Road to Damietta (about Francis of Assisi) and Hawk that Dare Not Hunt (about Tyndale) both by Scott O’Dell (I haven’t read these two but we’ce enjoyed O’Dell’s historical novels in the past).

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The Middle Ages in Specific Countries

Because he is studying German this year, I had my ninth grader focus on the Middle Ages in Germany during the second term. He read H.E. Marshall’s A History of Germany.. For historical fiction he read The White Stag by Kate Seredy, a relatively brief book which tells the story of Attila the hun. He also read some Norse myths (because it was hard to find anything else close to literature or historical fiction on Germany specifically) from Padraic Colum’s The Children of Odin. I highly recommend Colum’s books anytime you need mythology.

My middle schooler focused in Ireland and Scotland. She read Peeps at History: Ireland by Beatrice Homes. There are a number of books in the Peeps series and I have not always been crazy about them but looking at Heritage History’s options, I found this to be the best on Ireland. Also on Ireland she read Brendan the Navigator by Jean Fritz. Fritz is a favorite author. This is one of her relatively short books. Then I let her pick from some volumes I had gotten from our local library with Irish tales —

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On Scotland she read H.E. Marshall’s Scotland’s Story and for historical fiction Sir Walter Scott’s The Talisman.

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I had my senior focus on Spain (because she has studied Spanish) and on Islam as well. Since the Moors were in Spain during this period, there is a natural link between the two. She read A Child’s History of Spain by John Bonner and The Moors in Spain by M.Florian (both Heritage History books) and Islam: A Short History by Karen Armstrong. I haven’t liked all the short history books I’ve looked at equally but some are quite good. She also read a book I have read and loved: The Crusades, Christianity and Islam by Jonathan Riley-Smith. This book is nice because it relates the events of the Middle Ages to what is going on in the world today (in a very reasoned, scholarly way).  For historical fiction she read Seven Daughters and Seven Sons by Barbara Cohen and Bahija Lovejoy.

In our time together we focused on England. As the mother country of our own, this seemed like a good choice for everyone to do together. We read H.E. Marshall’s well-known Our Island Story. Though again this is a lower level book, it is hard to beat for an engaging overview of English history.

Happy Reading!

Nebby

 

Comparison of CM Curricula — updated!

Dear Reader,

I just updated my charts comparing Charlotte Mason curricula. Find them all here.

Nebby

Living Books on the Ancient Near East

Dear Reader,

We did a mini term between Thanksgiving and Christmas on Mesopotamia and Canaan. As a once and future Hebrew scholar, it kills me to give the short shrift to the Ancient Near East but there is only so much one can fit into a school year. You can find all my booklists here.

Living Books on the Ancient Near East

In our time all together, we concentrated on art and myths. I used Hillyer’s book for the art. Though it can be understood by elementary level, I think it still provides a good introduction for older children as well. Note that Hillyer has a few volumes, on painting, sculpture and architecture. I have the three in one volume, A Child’s History of Art, and we covered all the areas.

The Ancient Near East includes a number of cultures. While they all have similarities, there is also some variation. We tried to include both Mesopotamian and Canaanite myths. I used Padraic Colum’s Myths of the World which I got on Kindle. It is nice because it gives some introduction to what we find in each of the cultures as well. For Mesopotamia, we also got a few of the storybooks by Zeman by tell the epic of Gilgamesh. There are three I believe that they each tell part of the story so you want to read them in order. Though these are picture books, they do a great job. For Canaan, I used Coogan’s Stories from Ancient Canaan. These are tales from Ugarit, a Canaanite town which was destroyed by fire. The destruction meant that the clay tablets on which the stories were written were baked hard and survived. It is interesting to see the similarities and differences here with one of Israel’s close neighbors. What we have is somewhat fragmentary. Coogan gives good introductions to each. I recommend prereading so you can give context and read selections. I blogged on these myths when we studied them previously. You can see one of those posts here.

We also talked about writing together using the book Sign, Symbol, Script. This is one I had leftover from my grad school days. It is actually a catalog from an exhibition but gives lots of info on the history of writing and the alphabet, a topic I couldn’t pass by. I have no idea how easy this is to find. We didn’t use Ancient Israleites and Their Neighbors. I find it a bit cumbersome. It has lots of extras like recipes if you are into that sort of thing.

I’m not thrilled with the historical fiction in this period. I don’t find it very well-written. My high school daughter read Adara by Gormley. My middle schooler read  Hittie Warrior by Williamson. The latter in particular seemed to through in every biblical motif it could (not in a good way). My senior read Silverberg’s Gilgamesh the King. I chose this book partly because he has been studying science fiction for his literature this year and Silverberg is a sci-fi writer. I thought the book would stray farther from the myth but it actually seemed to do better than I expected.

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My 8th grader read Science in Ancient Mesopotamia. I am not thrilled with this series but it is decent and provides info that one might not get elsewhere. He also read a book I loved for him — Ancient and Medieval Siege Weapons by Nosov. I only had him read the portions relevant to what we are studying. I seemed to be a very readable book. My 7th grader read Ancient Egyptian, Assyrian and Persian Costumes and Decorations by Houston. There are a lot of picture sin this book. She choose to do drawing of the costumes for most narrations and seemed to really get into it.

Lastly, we get to the actual history books.

My7th grader read The Ancient Near Eastern World by Podany. I’m not sure it’s 100% living but it seemed well-written. She liked that it included a lot of different things, like history and myths and how people lived. My 12th grader read A Short History of the Near East by Hitti. He seems to have really enjoyed it and says that it did a good job of being both broad and specific if that makes sense. My 11th grader read Fairservis’ Mesopotamia. She says it was pretty good. Since Fairservis only covers Mesopotamia, I also had her read The Phoenicians by Pamela Odijk. My 8th grader read the relevant portions of Dorothy Mills’ Book of the Ancient World. I am not thrilled with the book though I see it recommended a lot. It seems overly brief and simple (though her book on Greece is longer and I am planning to use that one). I was supposed to read Maspero’s Life in Ancient Egypt and Assyria but life got away from me and I never started it 😦

Next up: Ancient Greece

Nebby

Homeschool Plans: 2016-2017

Dear Reader,

I had posted on our high school plans for the four years, but I realized I never did anything on what we are doing this year. In 2016-17 I will have two in high school — 10th and 11th grades — and two in middle school — 6th and 7th.

Stuff we do together

We still have things we do together; this is part of our day I am loathe to give up. I don’t know if the kids like it, but I do. We have pared down our “together work” of the last year or so though. Last year we went from every day to 3 days a week. We’re going to keep to that schedule this year, but I am making one more big change. History has always been the heart of our homeschool and the big thing we do together. We are still going to read our history spine together but I picked a much simpler, quicker spine and I want to spend considerable time on Bible study too. I came to the realization that adults I know, who I feel shoud know better, don’t turn to the Bible when they should. I want my kids to get used to dealing with the Bible. They all do (or should do) daily BIble reading on their own but this is something more and different. I’ll try to post exactly what we are doing and how it is going as the year progresses. (Feel free to remind me in a month or two if I haven’t said anything.) We will also continue to do psalm studies together occasionally.

The other subjects we will do together are history, Shakespeare, and geography. The bulk of their history reading is done on their own but I like to read a general “spine” book together to give us an overview of the period we are studying. It helps to make sure we don’t miss any key events. They then read on their own books at their own level and on more specific topics. This year we are doing 20th century history. The focus for the younger three is on American history but I plan to give my oldest books on international events so he gets a broader view.

The other subjects we do together will alternate. I began ding geography through maps last year and we will continue that. I’m contemplating getting through two Shakespeare plays this year, Julius Caesar and something more light such as The Taming of the Shrew.

Middle School

As I said, history is the cornerstone of what we do. Our approach is simple: read and narrate, read and narrate. Using a spine book together for an overview allows us to focus on specific topics in their individual reading. I rely heavily on the TruthQuest guides to find books, as well as just looking at what our library system has and checking for favorite authors. I blog about what books we used after each section. Look for the living books tab up top to find all our booklists.

In the past I have given my younger two assigned Bible readings but I am going to see if they can stay on track on their own this year and let the at least start out by picking what they want to read.

Since my older two have advanced to high school, I have decided I really wish we had done less formal science when they were younger and focused more on living books and nature study. We have been quite slack on formal nature study so I’d like to get back into that this year. In addition, my 7th grader will be reading The Wonderbook of Chemistry and Joe’s Body. My 6th grader has some science combined with her math — she is doing Life of Fred Pre-Algebra with Physics and Life of Fred Pre-Algebra with Biology. She is also going to read The Storybook of Science. I would like both of them to do some of this aloud with me, that is with them reading aloud to me. Three of my four kids had speech delays when they were little and we really need to work on enunciation.

My 7th’s grader’s math will be Life of Fred Pre-Algebra with Economics. I am also going to have him read Richard Maybury’s What Ever Happened to Penny Candy? I feel I should say, though, that I am not a fan of Maybury’s. I know a lot of homeschoolers use him and I am okay with this first of his books but I really regret letting my oldest read Whatever Happened to Justice? Maybury has a definite viewpoint and it is not mine. Before you get into his books, I’d recommend looking into what he believes. You can see my specific thoughts on that here.

For language arts this year I am trying to go pure CM with these two. In the past we have always done a spelling curriculum too and I’d like to get away from that. We will be doing copywork and prepared dictation from Spelling Wisdom Book 3.

Both kids have asked for a foreign language so I set them both up with DuoLingo online. One chose German and the other Swedish.

At various points when there is room in their schedules they will read other books. My 6th grader will start with Anne of Green Gables.

There are a few subjects the three of us will do together without the high schoolers. These include poetry, artist and music study, and church history. These will rotate so only one is done per day. All my kids have an instrument and take lessons.

High School

History for high school is the same as for the middle schoolers, just with harder books. Bible reading they are on their own for as well. I will give them theology (a term I am using very broadly) books to read as well as they have slots in their schedules. My 11th grader is starting with John Calvin’s Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life and Frank Leahy’s The Hand of God.

My oldest will be taking physics labs at a local coop every other week. He will do the readings from the textbook they use, but I am also including some living books. I will post on those another time. My 10th grader will be doing chemistry using Life of Fred Chemistry, a selection of living books (see this post), and Landry labs two day intensive.

My 10th grader will do civics using The Everything US Government Book and Lessons for the Young Economist (again a lot of this is in my high school post). My 11th grader asked for a course on political science and so I am developing one for him. I will post on that in the future as well.

My oldest takes Latin with a tutor using The Cambridge Latin Course. My 10th grader is going to try Spanish 1 with Classes by Beth Plus, an online class.

I am going to try something a little different for English this year. Both high schoolers will be reading a lovely little writing book I found and trying their hand at some essay writing. This will alternate with “Movies as Literature” which I am creating based on Horner’s book Meaning at the Movies (see my review here).

I am going to have them both read Francis Schaeffer’s How Shall We Then Live and watch the videos of it as well. Having read the book, I decided it’s a bit dense and that the reinforcement of doing both would be good.

My daughter is aiming for art school so she has a lot in that department. She takes drawing classes with a private instructor and will do a digital photography class this fall. She is also going to read Leland Ryken’s Liberated Imagination on Christianity and the arts (my review here). Schaeffer’s book also has a lot to say on art.

I am trying something different for some of their narrations; it is sort of half narration, half commonplace book. For Schaeffer and Horner and Ryken at least they will do a page in a notebook (just a plain one, not special pages) after each reading in which they sum up what points they think the author is making, copy a favorite quote and write and questions, comments or disagreements they have.

For math my son is continuing to work through Life of Fred Calculus and my daughter is trying Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2.

Nebby

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