Thursday, June 24, 2010

Baskets & Books

I've been admiring these Pottery Barn baskets for a few years now, but recently my window shopping love affair finally mades its way to actual purchase when I realized that PB was redoing their baskets - and that this 12-inch square version, along with the basket liners I really liked were all being discontinued. ACK!

Luckily, with a little footwork, I was able to track down the baskets I wanted and even got the liners at a discounted rate. Thus, I opted to do a bit of a basket makeover to my school shelf space to help me get a little more organized for the upcoming year. Plus, since my school room and kitchen share space, we often cover this shelf and use the top as a "buffet table" when events and parties necessitate, so now the baskets make hauling all those books and manipulatives out quite a bit easier! YEAH!

You can see the "before" picture here if you want to compare it to the "basket accessorized" look. :)

Ahhh. . .baskets. . .they're really not just for dirty laundry :)  Hee, hee!

P.S. Just in case you were wondering. . .that plastic thing hanging on the lower left side of the board is a small shower caddy w/suction cups that houses the dry erase markers and eraser and keeps them out of baby's reach!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Book Chatter - Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

After some chatter about this one on another list, I decided to pick it up and add it to my 2010 list. (This one was a relatively short read, easy finished in a day or two.)

I've realized as I have begun to read some of the picks on my mental "I've always wanted to read that" list, that the actual book title often offers a surprisingly different notion of what one might imagine the book to be about. This is such a book.

Fahrenheit 451 - the temperature at which book paper catches fire and burns.

Isn't that clever? Bradbury has a unique way of writing and at times I found myself lost in details, however, this is a well-crafted science fiction work and I think the overall point of the book was easily discerned not only in the content, but also in the foreword as Bradbury writes. . .

"It has to do with books being burned without matches or fire. Because you don't have to burn books, do you, if the world starts to fill up with nonreaders, nonlearners, nonknowers? If the world wide-screen-basketballs and - footballs itself to drown in MTV, no Beattys are needed to ignite the kerosene or hunt the reader. If the primary grades suffer meltdown and vanish through the cracks of ventilators of the schoolroom, who, after a while, will know or care?"

And in the text. . .

"The sun burned everyday. It burned Time. The world rushed in a circle and turned on its axis and time was busy burning the years and the people away, without any help from him."

The relevancy of the book to our culture today is uncanny. With so much technology and drive for material things, people are SO busy that they don't have time for what's really important. Not only the loss of attention to books, and the possibility that "a book in hand" might someday be a thing of the past, but the sheer busyness of life that keeps us from getting to know one another, from taking time to share and pass on stories to our children, and from really engaging in life - life that creates family bonds and friendships that exists beyond the realm of passive entertainment and material attainment.

If nothing else may it encourage us to redeem the time that burns away beneath us as we rush through day after day.

I could go on. . .but you'd probably drawn your own connections better by reading the book!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Starting Points. . .Where Our Thinking Begins!

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. . . 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

I can't recall a time that I've ever been as excited about a curriculum as I am now about using Cornerstone Curriculum's Starting Points with my dd this year. As I began to inquire and research in an effort to decide between this and Omnibus, I repeatedly felt drawn to Starting Points and found confirmation after confirmation that my prayers were being clearly answered through the sharing and responses I received from others. . .along with the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) direction of the Holy Spirit.

Learning alongside my child as we strive to strengthen the foundation of our faith is about as exciting as it gets from my viewpoint and I firmly believe that this will be a life-changing and enlightening experience for us. Seeing God at work already keeps me on the edge of my seat with joyful anticipation as we venture forth to find Biblical answers to these seven worldview questions that lead down a path of profound and reflective truth-seeking - and that we as Christians should have a concrete and substantiated response to.

1 - What is God like?

2 - What is man like?

3 - What is the universe like?

4 - What is the cause of evil and suffering?

5 - What is the basis of ethics and morality?

6 - What happens to man at death?

7 - What is the meaning of life and history?

Because we are "living in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation" (Phil. 2:15), it's vital that we base our thinking upon the Biblical Worldview. Scripture is unchanging, yet it's message and words are unique and personal to each of us! Our world today has turned away from absolutes. Principles that once made up the foundation and underpinnings of our country are now floating in a sinking boat somewhere on a vast sea of gray. Thus, rather than surrender to the onslaught of merciless waves with our hands in the air, Starting Points stands out as a life preserver, ardently desiring to provide a fighting chance for ourselves, our youth, and our children to rise above the undercurrents of decline and decay that continue to assault our families, our communities, our country, our world, and our Christian faith!

A spiritual relationship nurtured feebly or built misguidedly on emotional appeal makes for a weak faith that will impede our spiritual growth and hinder our efforts to live the abundant and full life God has for us. Such disadvantages limit our appreciation and grasp of who HE is, but also limit our appreciation and grasp of who WE are in HIM! Developing a Biblical Worldview serves to give one the solid foundation needed to weather the peaks and valleys of life, the questions of good and evil, the questions of life and death, along with the aptitude to discern and reprove the declining moral state around us, the pervasive culture of anything goes, and the insidious one who seeks to destroy and devour.

In the wise words of Charlotte Mason: (CM Original Series)

"But let their zeal be according to knowledge. Lay the foundation of their faith. [Details of individual opinion matter less than] that they should know fully in Whom they believed, and what are the grounds of their belief. Put earnest, intellectual works into their hands. Let them feel the necessity of bracing up every power of mind they have to gain comprehension of the breadth and the depth of the truths they are called to believe.

There is a horror of great darkness abroad, Christianity is on its trial; and more than that, the most elementary belief in, and worship of, Almighty God. The judgement to come, the resurrection of the body, the life everlasting, - these fundamental articles of Christian faith have come to be pooh-poohed; and this, not only among profane persons and ungodly livers, but amongst people of reputation both for goodness and wisdom."

Wow!. . .isn't it amazing that words written so long ago, are yet so relevant and fresh today?

And from Susan Shaeffer Macaulay: (For the Children's Sake)

"The young person should not be left to base his Christian faith on the inadequate foundation of "emotional appeals". On the contrary: our minds can look full into the face of basic questions, and the implications of Christianity can - and do - stand firmly as reasonable. . . .Mind is on our side. It is liberating, wonderful, and produces healthy growth. We don't have to keep our Christianity in a little compartment labeled "faith". If fits reality. There are good answers, good reasons. The light of truth shines brightly."

And finally, I will close with a few more choice words from Charlotte Mason:

"Of the three sorts of knowledge proper to a child, the knowledge of God, of man, and of the universe, - the knowledge of God ranks first in importance, is indispensable and most happy-making."

I hope my enthusiasm for this message and this curriculum is contagious. I hope this posts causes you to think, to question, to measure your time, to rethink your academic goals, to evaluate your own walk, and to carefully consider the quality of the many options you have available to you! What's the eternal value? What will be the measure of success? What's the bottom line goal? What's the main thing?

May we all be diligent in our efforts and responsibility to prayerfully and wholeheartedly reconcile our most important task with the minutes, hours, and days that remain. Remember, children don't wait!

P.S. Now with all that food for thought, should you find Starting Points to be impressed as keenly upon your heart as I have, then I invite you to join us at the new Starting Points Yahoo Group!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Veritas Press History and Bible Cards

I got this fantastic idea from another Mom who does Classical Conversations and I just LOVE IT! Instead of laminating and cutting ALL those cards, (a task I was dreading) I purchased these neat little binders and protective covers for them. Depending on how you want to factor the cost of laminating, time for cutting, etc. I think the price was fairly comparable.They are easy to put together, easy to store, easy to pull out when needed! You can flip through it like a photo album or pull out just the ones you want to focus on.

Each mini-binders comfortably hold about 80 each, so I have four binders total for BOTH the history and Bible sets altogether. The spine also has a plastic insert section for you to label the binder, along with a circle shaped "finger" slot that makes them easy to pull off a shelf!

I purchased the 5.5 x 8.5 sheet protectors and the same size mini-binders from this place - Keep Filing ( I'm sure you can probably get them elsewhere, but at the time of research, this was the least expensive place and the ones I liked best!

As far as the cards themselves. . .they are a great resource for homeschooling families. Plus I think the visual aspect of being able to lay them out when showing the timeline of things is very helpful to children (and adults, lol!). The cards all have a short bit of information on the back and then lists several other resources to refer to for more in-depth learning on that event, person or subject. Plus each individual Veritas Cards packet also comes with a sheet that list those resources which will give you more information on a particular story, person, or event, and even tells you how many times a particular resource is referred to, as well as its priority as it relates to the set. Some resources are used only once in a single series, some as much as more than twenty. This allows you to *buy* only the most important ones and borrow/skip the others as it fits your needs so that you can make the most of these cards!

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