Monday, July 06, 2015

The Role of Beauty in Learning

At Beautiful Feet Books we believe in the power of story. We also believe in the power of beauty to communicate truth, awaken imagination, and inform. Oftentimes the importance of beauty can be ignored in the pursuit of knowledge but we have found through years of experience that beauty can grease the wheels of education, especially when it comes to illustrations. Whenever we are considering the publication of a book, especially one for youngsters, one of the key criteria is the quality of the illustrations. This is one of the reasons we loved being able to reprint the d'Aulaire titles. Ingri and Edgar's superbly, and painstakingly, rendered illustrations helped shape generations of children's images of Columbus, Leif Erikson, Pocahontas, Benjamin Franklin, Buffalo Bill, and other key historical figures. Combined with their impeccable research and passion for American history, the d'Aulaires understood that when good history is combined with gorgeous illustrations, children will enjoy learning about the past.

In this month's issue of The Old Schoolhouse, Karen Andreola shares a story about her family's study of the Vikings and Leif Erikson. You can access the article here. I loved this quote: 
During rare moments when a busy home teacher is able to sit comfortably somewhere, she is likely to be found on the sofa with a picture book in hand, her children close beside her. Cozy and sweet? Yes, it is. These cozy times, however, should not be underestimated in their power to train children in the habit of attention. And picture books, or storybooks, have a wonderful way of introducing a subject, especially history.
Over thirty years of working with home educators we have seen the truth of this time and time again. Parents whose children had hated history tell us stories of their children now begging for "one more page" as they read through the d'Aulaire books, or Pilgrim Stories, or James Daughtery's lusciously illustrated classics. 

This is important to keep in mind as you choose books for your young children. If the illustrations are cartoonish or drab or farcical, those images will influence their early perceptions of historical characters. A bobbleheaded George Washington may not be what you want your child to think of when they consider the father of our nation. Of course we don't want to present perfect pictures of mere mortals and that is where accurate historical representations become so important. Balancing accurate history with inviting illustrations is what authors like the d'Aulaires do so well! 

Our new 2015-2016 catalog is now available! If you want to view it right now it's available online 
here. And if you would like to request a hardcopy, click here.

We would love to hear what you think! Chime in below in the comments section and share your thoughts. Don't forget to check out our Facebook and Pinterest pages.  To learn more about Beautiful Feet Books, click here.

And if you've enjoyed this, please feel free to share using the buttons below! 

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Happy 4th of July!

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

John Hancock

Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross

Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple

Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery

Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott

New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

Thursday, July 02, 2015

4th of July Resources

Independence Day is just around the corner! We hope you all have plans to celebrate with cookouts and fireworks. Independence Day is a wonderful time to look back on our nation's history and remember the principles upon which she was founded. 

Here are some resources to help you do just that!

A More Perfect Union by Betsy and Giulio Maestro

America's Paul Revere by Esther Forbes

Online Resources

We at BFB wish you a celebratory 4th of July! We'll leave you with John Adam's great words on celebrating this day:

John Adam's famous words regarding this special day:
The fourth day of July "will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. you will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even although We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not." (The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784)

Our new 2015-2016 catalog is now available! If you want to view it right now it's available online here. And if you would like to request a hardcopy, click here.

We would love to hear what you think! Chime in below in the comments section and share your thoughts. Don't forget to check out our Facebook and Pinterest pages.  To learn more about Beautiful Feet Books, click here.

And if you've enjoyed this, please feel free to share using the buttons below! 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Homeschool Veterans: Meet Helen!

Today I'm excited to introduce you to another veteran homeschooling mom! I have actually known Helen since I was a little girl and she's one of BFB's very first customers. Helen has homeschooled eight of her own children and now those children are beginning to homeschool their kids. What a cool legacy. Helen brings a great perspective on how homeschooling. Enjoy reading her story!

BFB: What originally drew you to homeschooling?
Helen: Many of my friends were, and had been, homeschooling for a number of years–it was the beginning of the homeschool revival. I began first with just my oldest daughter when she was in 7th grade, just to see whether or not I could handle it, and what were the benefits and possible disadvantages. With three preschoolers and three others in public school I felt like I was testing the waters. My daughter Carolyn did fine but I mostly checked in to see if she was completing her assignments or needed help, not totally involved in what she was learning. It was a little frustrating to me but I could see benefit in the process despite my lack of total commitment. She decided she would rather go back to school when the next year rolled around. My next attempt was with my son Bobby in 5th grade. I knew he was struggling with school and soon discovered he has a form of dyslexia. Working with him really brought to light the benefits of homeschooling and after that I began pulling out some of my other children to homeschool.

BFB: How long have you been homeschooling? 
Helen: I have been homeschooling for 22 years. Now that my children have grown I am tutoring homeschool children–I just can't get enough! My son Stephen, and daughter-in-law, Faith, will begin homeschooling this fall, so I am very excited about that!

BFB: What is one thing you wish you had known when you began homeschooling? 
Helen:  I really wish I had known that I could teach my children - all eight of them - all the way through high school. I didn't have enough faith in myself, enough support, or encouragement back then. It has taken a lot of years and experience for me to realize that it is not only possible, but the best way to go.

BFB: What has been your greatest joy and greatest challenge of homeschooling? 
Helen: I think my greatest joy came first in finding a true love for learning. I grew up with textbook history lessons...boring! When I began teaching with the BFB program I discovered that history is really interesting! Who knew? This fueled my fire for learning and teaching. Now I can say that my greatest joy is to work with a child and see "the light go on" when he/she understands something and becomes excited about learning. One of my greatest challenges was to overcome curriculum confusion–there is so much to choose from! I think it's something you have to grow into, or out of, depending on how you look at it. Pay attention to the BFB philosophy! The next challenge would be in figuring out how to teach a child with a different style of learning and reach their understanding. It is a process and a goal to achieve. 

BFB: How did you discover BFB? How has the philosophy behind BFB influenced your teaching in other subjects? 
California History Through Literature
Helen: I discovered BFB upon it's inception. Russ and Rea were living here in our county, Tuolumne, and attending the same church as we were. Rea and I were involved in several groups together and so I naturally was drawn to her vision behind teaching history through literature. I first used the California History Pack, fell in love with it, and have just about all of the packs in my library. I feel that the philosophy of BFB has affected by teaching in giving me the insight and ability to pull subjects together and make a more cohesive structure to total learning. I use Spalding Language Arts (The Writing Road to Reading) which fits in really well with BFB; I love how one subject overlaps into another, how you can teach writing and reading structure with what you are learning in history, or history in reading, etc. Making math problems out of time periods, or really any information read, is another way to expand thought. There are so many ways to weave your lessons that it is amazing.

Thank you so much Helen! If you have any questions for Helen, just leave them below in the comments! We're going to be checking back in with our veterans over the next few weeks with your questions–this is such a great opportunity to glean wisdom from these women who have walked the path before us!

Our new 2015-2016 catalog is now available! If you want to view it right now it's available online here. And if you would like to request a hardcopy, click here.

We would love to hear what you think! Chime in below in the comments section and share your thoughts. Don't forget to check out our Facebook and Pinterest pages.  To learn more about Beautiful Feet Books, click here.

And if you've enjoyed this, please feel free to share using the buttons below!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday Wisdom and Fun Links

I have been reading through the biographies of some amazing people as I select books for our updated History of Science program and I loved this quote from George Washington Carver. Isn't that what we're all wanting for our children–generous hearts backed up by a diligent character?

As it's summer and summer is for fun and reading, I wanted to share some links I found interesting. They're all related to reading and fun and summer. Enjoy!

How the United States became a nation of readers.

Useful Employment: Summer Reading

Dear Children: Let Me Explain This Thing Called Summer

Prioritizing the Arts over Test Prep

Can Reading Make You Happier?

A Cure for Hyper-Parenting

Enjoy! And have a great weekend.

Our new 2015-2016 catalog is now available! If you want to view it right now it's available online here. And if you would like to request a hardcopy, click here.

We would love to hear what you think! Chime in below in the comments section and share your thoughts. Don't forget to check out our Facebook and Pinterest pages.  To learn more about Beautiful Feet Books, click here.

And if you've enjoyed this, please feel free to share using the buttons below!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What parents are saying...

"I used your Ancient History, Medieval History and U.S. and World History courses for my son who homeschooled for 6-9th grade and daughter who homeschooled for 6-8th. They are now back in public high school, attending a supposedly a very academically challenging school. Not only have they aced their World History course (they would only allow the U.S. and World History to count as either US or World History in their transcripts) but on the California standardized test for History my son got 100% of the questions correct in 3 out of 4 sections. In the 4th section, he told me "Mom, I know I missed 2 and I know which ones. They were wrong. They were looking for the accepted answer which is incorrect if they really knew their history". What can I say? Your product is phenomenal. Your selection of quality literature and the vocabulary they garnered from it probably explains why they scored in the 98th percentile of the PSAT. Thank you. I am now starting my Kindergardener and 2nd grader on your Early American course." 

J. Lynch, WI

Our new 2015-2016 catalog is now available! If you want to view it right now it's available online here. And if you would like to request a hardcopy, click here.

We would love to hear what you think! Chime in below in the comments section and share your thoughts. Don't forget to check out our Facebook and Pinterest pages.  To learn more about Beautiful Feet Books, click here.

And if you've enjoyed this, please feel free to share using the buttons below!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Meet Melissa!

Melissa with RyleyAnn and Ruben
Today we are going to be chatting with Melissa, an eight-year veteran of home schooling! She is going to be going through our new Modern American and World History study over the next months and will be sharing her experience at her blog, Reflections from Drywood Creek.

She has already reviewed our History of California and our History of the Horse. You can read those reviews here and here.  She also just reviewed our Western Expansion guide - read that review here. Melissa also writes about using the Charlotte Mason method and I know many of our readers will thoroughly enjoy her thought-provoking entries on the philosophy behind the educational philosophy. Check those entries out here.

BFB: What originally drew you to homeschooling?
Melissa: Right from the time RileyAnn was in my womb, our first birth child, I knew I didn't want to send her to public school. I felt fortunate to have a parochial school education through 8th grade in our rural farming community. I felt strongly about small class sizes and one on one instruction. I also felt strongly about parental involvement and less government control. We weren't sure we would send our kids to a parochial school, but I hoped for some other option aside from public school.

When our older girls, Jennifer and Angel, came to us as foster kids, they attended public school because that's the nature of the beast here in WI. You cannot homeschool foster kids. Theirs was not initially an adoptive placement so I had not thought a lot about other educational options for them. However, once the adoption was finalized, as time went on, I started to wonder if public school was the best place for them. Jennifer was in special education and Angel struggled socially right from day one. So much so, that by the time she reached 6th grade, it was unbearable. A month into the school year, I decided to pull Angel from public school. It felt like a rash decision at the time because I had no plan B. I was also a member of our public school board, which was more than a little awkward.

That week, I met with teachers at the parochial school and even borrowed their books to take home and study. I made some phone calls to teaching friends and homeschool acquaintances. After a week's worth of prayer, study, and networking, it was decided I would homeschool Angel for the rest of that year. Jennifer was just starting public high school. She was a gifted athlete who did OK academically and wasn't struggling socially so she stayed and eventually graduated from public school.

At this same time, RileyAnn was attending a Christian preschool two mornings per week. It felt like I had a foot in every door. Because Riley has a early September birthday, she was almost a whole year older than most kids at preschool giving her an edge in every area. At the semester change, with mixed feelings, it was decided to move her up to the 4K room, which was two full days per week. I will never forget the end of the first week, when I picked her up and asked the teacher how it went. She stated Riley did better than most of the kids that had been there all year. Part of me was flattered and part of me was saddened, seeing a huge red flag go up.

Many days I remember dropping her off and seeing wild chaos. Little boys running and wrestling. Kids crying in the corner. After a short time, Riley also began crying every morning that I dropped her off. She just wanted to stay home with me. Though it broke my heart, I've always been of the mind that you should finish what you start. I struggled greatly with this because I already had Angel home and technically Riley didn't belong in school yet anyway. The only thing she learned that year was bad behavior. We were both miserable. Long story short, by the end of the school year, we decided it was in Angel and Riley's best interest to proceed with homeschooling.

I have learned a great deal over the years of homeschooling and continue to learn daily. At this point, I LOVE homeschooling and can't imagine it any other way! I enjoy being with our kids on a regular basis. It's a gift to watch them grow and learn!

BFB: How long have you been homeschooling? What ages are you children?
Melissa: I am just finishing up our 8th year of homeschooling. Jennifer is now an adult public school graduate, Angel is an adult homeschool graduate, RileyAnn is an 11-year old 5th grader, Ruben is a 10-year old 4th grader, and Levi is soon to be 3 years old.

BFB: How did you discover Beautiful Feet Books? Has the philosophy behind BFB influenced how you teach other subjects?
Melissa: I've always been a huge educational junkie so as soon as the homeschool ball was in motion, I started researching curricula. During our second year, I stopped at a thrift sale in which a veteran homeschooling mom was selling her books. She had the complete set of D'Aulaire books and the BF Early American Primary guide for sale, which she told me was one of her favorite programs. I thought the picture books were absolutely beautiful so I bought them and set them on the shelf.

Meanwhile, as mentioned above, I networked with other homeschooling moms, one of which, mentioned Beautiful Feet. This led me to further research, particularly in our 3rd year, as it was decided Angel would continue homeschooling through high school. I had acquired a couple other BF guides and started asking questions on our local homeschool forum about the program. Of course, there were a couple of moms who thought it would be a great supplement, but not "rigorous" enough for high school. Initially, their comments overruled the one mom who used BF for high school and loved it, so we started homeschooling high school with another program. However, after Angel's 9th grade year, I started looking at BF more seriously and decided to give it a try as a supplement to her 10th grade world history study.

Angel actually really enjoyed BF, slightly better than the other program we initially started with. She felt the BF guide questions were more thought provoking than what she'd been using. From there, we continued her 11th and 12th grade years with BF and I've since been using other guides with our younger children. At this point, I'm utterly convinced that BF is more than a supplement and is definitely rigorous enough. Beautiful Feet's philosophy fits nicely with the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling, which is our preferred method.

BFB: What has been the greatest joy of homeschooling? The greatest challenge?
Melissa: The greatest joy of homeschooling is seeing our kids learn and grow on a day to day basis. You know the euphoria you feel when your child takes their first step or says their first word, I'm blessed to experience that feeling with many more firsts on a regular basis. I also treasure my relationship with my children as well as their relationship with each other. The time we spend together has created an extra special bond.

My greatest challenge in homeschooling is modifying curricula to meet each child's need. Our children have dyslexia, so finding methods to help them learn and retain has taken extra effort on my part.

Thank you Melissa for letting us peak in to your homeschool world. We are looking forward to hearing about your family's experience in using our Modern American and World History program. For more info on our newest guide, click here.

Our new 2015-2016 catalog is now available! If you want to view it right now it's available
online here. And if you would like to request a hardcopy, click here.

We would love to hear what you think! Chime in below in the comments section and share your thoughts. Don't forget to check out our Facebook and Pinterest pages.  To learn more about Beautiful Feet Books, click here.

And if you've enjoyed this, please feel free to share using the buttons below!