Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Party 2009

Each year we have a little "Christmas Party" for our home school. We invite Grandma, big sis and her little one, and spend a few hours of down time together enjoying Christmas music, crafts, pizza, - and sharing memories. (Sometimes I buy "craft sets", other times we brainstorm or pull ideas from the internet). I also fix each of the them a small holiday treat bag :) Below are a couple pic's from this year!

A few of our crafts. . .

My gang. . .

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Out-of-Door Life for Children

This is my personal summary from a section of the Charlotte Mason Original Series -

Out-of-Door Life for Children (Summary)
Charlotte Mason Volume 1 Part II

“Never be within doors when you can be rightly without.”
“. . .perhaps a mother’s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it spent for the most part out in the fresh air.”

Charlotte Mason believed that spending four, five, or six hours outdoors per tolerably fine day, (preferably together, not “sent out” alone), to be absolutely best for the children. This time should be spent with some method, but not unwittingly hindered by the perpetual cackle of his elders! For physical and muscular development, two hours should be spent in vigorous play and at some point a lesson or two gotten in.

“At the same time, here is the mother’s opportunity to train the seeing eye, the hearing ears, and to drop seeds of truth into the open soul of the child, which shall germinate, blossom, and bear fruit, without further help or knowledge of hers.”

Send them on an exploring expedition:

• Direct them – “find out all you can about ________”

• Have them describe in detail what they have seen or observed: color, shape, texture, size, directions, position, etc.

• Provide the name of things and anything you have tell about it ‘once’ a child has offered a considerate description and details of his own observations.

“This is all play to the children, but the mother is doing invaluable work; she is training their powers of observation and expression, increasing their vocabulary and their range of ideas by giving the name and the uses of an object at the right moment – when they ask, “What is it?”, and What is it for?” And she is training her children in truthful habit, by making them careful to see the fact and to state it exactly, without omission or exaggeration.”

Picture Painting (mental imaging):

• Have him look upon a landscape or setting in nature, then close his eyes and describe what it was that he saw before him, fully and in detail.

“At first the children will want a little help in the art of seeing.”

This help can be provided by the mother modeling the process and pointing out in detail things that they see together:
• the trees reflecting in the pond
• the dew upon the leaves
• the Cardinal perched upon the branch
• the blue sky with soft, white clouds
• the squirrel scurrying up the tree

* It is worth noting that developing the skill of mental imaging lends greatly to reading comprehension in later years when mental images are formed from hearing or reading words in print.

Children should learn:

• Names of flowers, the manner of flowering – a head of flowers, a single flower, a spike, etc.
• Name of plants and ability to describe – leaf shape, color, size, growing from root or stem
• Names of trees – he should pick out a half a dozen in their winter nakedness and observe them throughout the year.
• Names of birds and ability to recognize them by their distinct features, song, habits, etc. Look for nests and eggs. (but leave them undisturbed)
• The delight of observing living creatures – “. . .they should be encouraged to watch, patiently and quietly, until they learn something of the habits and history. . .”
• from “things”! “The child gets knowledge by means of his senses.” Seek to put him in the way of things worth observing. (sights and sounds of the country, natural objects – twigs, pebbles, creeks, etc.)
• Rough classification at first hand – petals, leaves, roots, sepals, trees that keep leaves all year round, trees which lose them in autumn, creatures with a backbone, creatures without, and so on.

• Geography ~

• terms and ability to identify geographical concepts around them: plain, meadow, mountain, hill, field, pasture, lake, stream, swamp, brook, etc.
• weather variables: temperature, clouds, rain , snow, and hail
• distance - inches, feet, yard (various short distances around the home can be measured with steps and pacing)
• direction
• (first step is to make children observant of the progress of the sun). Sun rises in east and sets in west, hotter hours when sun is overhead, cooler hours in morning and evening with a low sun.
• street direction, town direction, wind direction, direction in which his house faces
• introduce to a compass and area boundaries

“The power to classify, discriminate, distinguish, between things that differ, is amongst the highest faculties of the human intellect and no opportunity to cultivate it should be let slip. . .” (this speaks to natural, relative opportunities, not of textbook directed)

Mother and Teachers should know about nature ~
“. . .that she may be able to answer their queries and direct their observations.”
“. . .the children will adore her for knowing what they want to know. . .”

Children should keep:

• a calendar of “firsts” – first oak tree, first tadpole, first ripe strawberry, first hike, (when and where), etc.
• a nature journal – each day’s walk and outdoor experience gives him something new to enter

The Mother must refrain from too much talk, though it is occasionally permissible to:
• point out some loveliness in coloring or grouping in landscape or in the heavens
• rarely and with reverence point out an object not only as a beautiful work, but a beautiful thought of God that we have the privilege of enjoying.

Games (physical development)

Nature provides for optimum development of muscular tissue. When weary of outdoors play, let the younger ones nap in the sweet air and awake refreshed. Let the older children play, run, shout, and move! Allow them to exercise their physical bodies as well as their lungs and voices. Sing, skip, hop, dance, jump rope, play tennis, climb, chase, etc.

Final thoughts:

Children should be dressed appropriately for outdoor excursions. (less an otherwise delightful time be spoiled for mother and child by the need to be overly concerned with soiling his clothing)

“Meals taken al fresco are usually joyous. . .” Enjoy snacks, tea, breakfast and/or lunch outdoors when weather conditions permits. Sit under a tree, put out a blanket, breathe and treasure the value of fresh air. Children love “picnicking”, but even the smallest delight can be taken outdoors!

Take advantage of weather and seasonal changes. A winter walk can be fertile in observations. A rainy day exploration (Wet Weather Tramps) can be refreshing and fun! (no one has ever melted from a little rain :)

The habit of attention is developed through the “out-of-door life”. Nature provides us with limitless opportunity for learning and exploring. Remember to just “be” outside with your children. Observe alongside them. Hold their hand, run, shout, and enjoy the freedom and vitality that is found is the great outdoors God has blessed us with.

“Intimacy with Nature makes for Personal Well-Being. . . .the least of the benefits of this early training should confer on the children; a love of nature, implanted so early that it will seem to them hereafter to have been born in them, will enrich their lives with pure interests, absorbing pursuits, health, and good humor.”

Recommended Resources:
A Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock
Nature Series - Christian Liberty Press
Usborne Complete First Book of Nature

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Something So Precious

As I shared in my recent post "Until Then. . ." we suffered the loss of our expected blessing #5 through a miscarriage in early November. It has been an emotional time and in many ways I felt that some of our family and loved ones took our loss lightly, figuring and pointing out that we could always "try again". I know no one meant to be hurtful, but obviously, it left me feeling a bit downhearted and alone in my grief.

To my surprise and to my delight, I received the MOST precious gift a few days ago from my older sister. She mailed me a card and an ornament that arrived unexpectedly, yet at just the perfect time (you know, the time when you are most unlovable, but most in need of love)! The card was poignant and the ornament breathtaking. It's a sweet baby ornament with an adorable little hat and wings, and on the back of the wings was written our last name along with baby #5 and his/her "heaven date". (see pic's below)

I sobbed and sobbed! There really were no words for how touched and overwhelmed I was by this gesture. It has to be the most precious thing anyone could have done to help us memorialize our loss so thoughtfully and meaningfully.

It's currently hanging on my tree and just warms my heart each time I look at it.

A humbling, beautiful reminder of something so precious!

Related Posts with Thumbnails