Friday, September 25, 2009

Review: Tools for Young Historians from Brimwood Press

We bought the whole deal from Brimwood, including the scroll timeline and the toothpick lessons. Here's the verdict so far:
Worldview lesson package: She LOVED it. She liked the readings, the crafts, and the discussions.
Toothpick Time: she found it a bit tedious, but it covered important concepts about how centuries are labeled. 
Calendar Quest: she loves the story approach to learning history, and wants to read ahead
What Every Child Should Know about Western Civilization: she likes the information in this guidebook, and she especially likes sticking the stickers on the backs of the Hats of History cards as a visual reminder of what each civilization we read about accomplished. The information sparks some good discussions about everything from the roots of our system of government to whether time can be measured using the metric system. She does the map work, and adds new historical terms and names to her glossary. Some of the questions are discussed orally, and some are answered in writing. 
Scroll Timeline: I was reluctant to shell out the big bucks for this, but having a timeline we can unroll in the upstairs hallway is useful, and she likes adding the stickers to it, and seeing which countries are represented and when they began. I'm glad I got the timeline, since it's a good way to see all of history at a glance. The CD ROM has an Excel file that can serve the same purpose.
Historical Fact Sheets: I print one off the CD ROM whenever it's recommended in the curriculum and have her fill it out and add the corresponding sticker to the timeline. So far she's done a Form of Government fact sheet about Sumerian theocracy, and Arts and Architecture about the Pyramids of Giza. Up next, she'll fill out a Famous Men fact sheet on Hammurabi and a Literature and Theater sheet on a Babylonian creation myth.
Color the Western World: we're not really using this, but it'll probably be a good reference when we're done
I also got the four historical novels to use after we finish the whole course. There's a literature guide for the first one.
I also bought the guide on how to write historical fiction based on family stories, since she loves creative writing. 

We're taking a lot of time with this curriculum, since she's enjoying it so much. I've decided to do history this semester and science next semester, since that allows us to "go deep" and not feel like we have to rush through anything to try to get a certain number of subjects done each day.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


The girls are enjoying their gymnastics classes. Here, Audrey shows off how flexible she is. Mary is in the background on top of a big cylinder mat. The kids like to roll in it like a hamster wheel.

Mary is demonstrating the grapevine move on the balance beam. Cross front, cross behind, cross front, cross behind ...

Audrey is doing "ice cream scoops" on the beam. When she gets to the end of the beam, the teacher tells her to land with her knees bent and then do a "ta dah" with her arms.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mary's braces

She's been smiling a lot since the braces went on, not because she wants to show them off, but to keep them from rubbing the inside of her lips.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Studying The Music Man

Last month I went into the Homeschool Gathering Place (a great store in Raleigh that sells popular homeschool curricula and used books and other cool stuff) to get two things and came out with a whole stack. One item in my stack was Movies as Literature. It was something I had seen online a while back and thought I'd have to remember it for later. Well, it's later. The manual gives discussion and essay topic questions for 17 movies. It's meant to be a high school literature course, so most of the movies are over Mary's head, but there are two we're going to study this year: "The Music Man" and "E.T."

We started by attending an outdoor showing of "The Music Man" at Duke Gardens. They've been showing free movies on Wednesday nights all summer, and the theme was musicals.

The gardens hired a company to come in and set up a giant inflatable movie screen. Mary and I drove out to Duke after supper for the twilight movie. We brought lawn chairs and bought refreshments from the popcorn cart. It was a pretty chilly evening, and Mary was pretty sleepy by the time the show ended at almost 11:00, but we enjoyed it. It's a lot easier to focus on a movie in a dark theater, even an outdoor one, than it is at home. All around me, I could hear other movie-goers who just couldn't help singing along.

Mary watched the DVD again at home later that week, with the subtitles turned on so she could catch all the words. Today, I had her read the questions pertaining to a specific scene, then watch just that scene, then discuss the questions. She had to look up some background information to be able to answer some of the questions, like finding an image of "American Gothic", looking up the definition of "legitimate" and so on. We talked about what the couple in "American Gothic" would think if their son rebuckled his knickerbockers below the knees, and memorized jokes out of Cap'n Billy's Whizbang.

I downloaded the soundtrack, and Mary's been borrowing my iPod and singing all over the place, with the headphones on, just like her Grandma. (Finally, something other than "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"!) I ordered some easy piano arrangements of songs from "The Music Man", and when the book comes, she can learn to play them.

I told her she's not allowed to watch the DVD bonus features until we're finished with all the discussion questions.

Here are some "Music Man" links I found:
Music Man Square in Meredith Willson's hometown of Mason City, Iowa
Music Man Glossary in case you weren't around in 1912 and don't get all the references

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lucy's breed

(not Lucy - from the Black Mouth Cur website)

We haven't done any DNA testing, but I'm pretty sure we've got a Black Mouth Cur. The rescue organization woman wrote "lab mix/black mouth cur" on her paperwork, but I thought black mouth cur was a description, not an actual breed. They were bred to be good all-around farm dogs, the kind of dog you'd like to have if you lived in Texas Hill Country in the 1860s. Although Old Yeller was played by a lab mix in the movie, in the book he was a cur dog. Once we get our Lucy trained, we can take her out boar huntin' in the swamps.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Meet Lucy

We met her on Saturday and brought her home today. She came from PetSaverNC.
The rescue operation called her a lab mix. She's got the coloring and head shape of a great dane. You can't see it in this front view picture, but she has the black around the mouth like this guy:

She shouldn't get as big as him, though. We hope.

Oh, and we didn't intentionally choose a dog that matches our floor. But the shedding won't be as noticeable, and not having to sweep as often is a nice bonus.