Thursday, November 29, 2012

Readings for Advent

It's that time of year when I admittedly start feeling a bit frazzled. There seems to be so much to do as one prepares for the holiday season. Whether it's the gifts to purchase, the cards to write, the flights to book, the party to host, and the events to attend, while each is wonderful and joyful, it can all start to feel a bit overwhelming. One way to shift the focus back to where it ought to be is by celebrating Advent. For our customers who share our faith, we want to share some thoughts and resources to help your family mark this wondrous time of year.

Advent means coming and is the season of time marked by the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Traditionally celebrated with an Advent wreath, candles, and appropriate readings, it is a time that one sets aside each day to anticipate the coming of the Christ child. I love this tradition because it makes me pause in the middle of all the hustle and bustle and remember the true gift of Christmas. It also takes me back to those feelings I had as a child, the longing for Christmas morning, the anticipation of the arrival of the baby Jesus and it reminds me of the longing of the world for our Savior.

One more aspect of Advent that I love is that when we celebrate this wonderful tradition, we are joining with millions of other believers, actually acting out the command to be united in our faith. Catholic and Protestant, Orthodox and Pentecostal, people in home churches and those worshipping in cathedrals, believers of every nation, tribe, and language are joined in their remembrance of what an incredible miracle we celebrate each Christmas. 

Celebrating Advent with your family is a wonderful tradition as many of you can attest to. If you have not participated in marking this season with your family, I would encourage you to consider it this year. It truly transforms the season from one so easily marked by excess consumption and consumerism to one that is more thoughtful, more meaningful, and truly celebratory. 

We Light the Candles: Devotions Related to Family Use for the Advent Wreath
This is a great resource for families who want to incorporate an Advent wreath into their family devotions. The readings are set up for each day making the celebration of Advent very easy. 

The Advent Jesse Tree: Devotions for Children and Adults to prepare for the coming of the Christ Child and Christmas
The Jesse Tree is another form of Advent calendar and involves daily readings and the creation of an ornament to place on a tree. Each ornament is symbolic and relates to a specific reading from the Bible. This is a wonderful way for the entire family to participate in Advent and provides readings from the Old Testament attesting to the expectation of the Savior! 

The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean
This title would be great to use along with the one above as it is beautifully illustrated and would help younger children understand the activities taken from The Advent Jesse Tree. McCaughrean's text tells the story of a little boy who enters a church while a carpenter is working on constructing the Jesse Tree.  In lovely prose that would appeal to children of all ages, the stories of the Old Testament are outlined and the meaning of Christmas is related. 

God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Bonhoeffer's Christmas meditations have quickly established their place in the Christian tradition for good reason. His understanding of the joy and gravity of the incarnation causes readers to see how truly marvellous Jesus is. This is an excellent resource for families with older children and for adults who want to add Advent readings to their personal devotion time. 

Advent and Christmas, Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen
I love the writings of Henri Nouwen. His understanding of grace transformed my view of God and this little collection of readings is a wonderful way to be introduced to this humble priest. Each day presents a reading as well as a tip for application, making this a book you can put into action. 

Watch for the Light, Readings for Advent and Christmas
This is a great collection of meditations from writers like Thomas Perton, Madeleine L'Engle, Dorothy Day, C.S. Lewis, Bonhoeffer, Philip Yancey, and many more. For those of you who want to add something to the traditional Bible readings of Advent, this would be a great addition and provides enough readings to take you right in to the new year. 

If you are interested in purchasing any of these books from Beautiful Feet, just give us a call at 800.889.1978 and we'll be happy to help you.

I also wanted to share some online resources to help you with your Advent celebrations:
There are about a million other resources available online and many other great Advent books, but I hope this gives you a start. Please share your favorite resources by leaving a comment below so all our readers can benefit. And we wish you all a wonderful Christmas and holiday season.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How we help you save

We thought it may be helpful to let you know about the offers that are always available on our website. We're committed to providing the best books and history curriculum to you and keeping it affordable. As home educators ourselves, we know that making this educational choice is a sacrifice for many families and we want to make it easier for you. So, we offer the following discounts and savings every day on our website.

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Lowest price guaranteed on all our Jumbo Packs. If you find a Jumbo Pack listed for less, just let us know and we will happily match the price AND give you a $10.00 credit on your order! This allows you to shop with confidence. All our packs are discounted to save you money and make it easy for you to build your library. Choosing one of our history packs ensures that you have all the materials required to complete your history course making it easy and saving you time. 

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You can also shop with confidence knowing that all books and products published by Beautiful Feet Books are produced here in the United States.
Be sure to check out these other posts with more information on our products

Friday, November 23, 2012

Ideas for Gifting

We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and were able to celebrate with family and friends. We at BFB love Thanksgiving and appreciate that we begin the holiday season with a day set aside for gratitude. And now the lead up to Christmas begins so we thought we would share some of our ideas for Christmas gifts.

Gifts for Little Ones (Ages 3-6)

The Obadiah Trio, only $18.95 for all three beautiful books. 

The Billy and Blaze Set, a beautiful collection of seven books relating the adventures of a boy and his beloved pony. Only $36.95

This beautiful collection of books contains many classics and titles that are sure to become family favorites. Each is beautifully illustrated and your family will be able to spend hours reading each story over and over. 

Gifts for Children (Ages 7-10)

The Landmark Collection Give your voracious reader hours of entertainment with this collection of 26 titles. Characters well known and obscure come alive in this series featuring the biographies of Alexander the Great, Abe Lincoln, Sacagawea, D-Day, the Barbary Pirates, Amelia Earhart, and many many more. 

The d'Aulaire Collection, a must for any family library these gorgeously illustrated classics will be pored over for hours. The engaging text, personal details, and impeccable research ensure that these historical figure will come alive. 

The Teaching Character Intermediate Pack will introduce your student to the fairy tales of Oscar Wilde, Chaucer, and the well-loved Little Prince. You will also delve into the world of Hans Christian Andersen and enjoy Newbery award winners. 

Family Read Aloud Classics

The Ralph Moody Collection will move you, make you laugh, and bond your family together as you endure the trials and challenges faced by the Moody family. You will laugh at the antics of cowboys and trick riders, cry with the losses of a family struggling against all odds, and learn a lot about a piece of American history rarely covered in textbooks and classrooms. These are a must for every family who loves to read together. 

For more ideas, check out our blog entries on read-aloud favorites for all ages:

Family Read-Alouds Part II

Family Read-Alouds Part III

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Struggling Student? Here's food for thought

The other day I was running errands and had the radio on in the car when I heard a story from Morning Edition. It made me stop in my tracks (or at least sit through an entire green light) because I think that it addresses a very important issue and highlights the need for an educational perspective shift. 

In my years of working at home schooling conventions, talking to educators and parents, it is inevitable that I will encounter teachers with students who "struggle" with one subject or another, or maybe even have a hard time with the whole school thing altogether. This is invariably expressed as a negative thing. Teachers and parents with students who "struggle" can be frustrated, saddened, or disappointed but they are rarely happy. And this has a lot to do with our cultural understanding of intelligence. If you are smart, things come to you easily. Those who struggle to comprehend subjects and concepts taught in school are often shifted to remedial classes or fall through the cracks. I've spoken to many homeschooling parents whose child was failing to learn in a traditional classroom and so they made the decision to bring them home where they could help their child learn in an environment that was more conducive to his or her learning style. Often times the student make great strides following this change, but that is not always the case. Some students simply find academics more challenging than others. In the radio program, Jim Stigler an educational researcher, argues that this should be embraced more.

Stigler, a professor of psychology at UCLA has studied teaching and learning around the world. In this research he has noticed a very different approach to struggle in Asian cultures. "I think that from very early ages we [in America] see struggle as an indicator that you're just not very smart," Stigler says. "It's a sign of low ability — people who are smart don't struggle, they just naturally get it, that's our folk theory. Whereas in Asian cultures they tend to see struggle more as an opportunity." Isn't that fascinating? In the radio program Stigler relates a story that has to be heard! You can listen by clicking this link. While much is made concerning the widening educational gap between US and Asian students, I'm not so much concerned with that in this entry as I am with how differently our cultures value struggle. 

Stigler goes on to say that he thinks Asians teach their children something that I'm not sure we communicate very well to our students: "They've taught them that suffering can be a good thing," Stigler says. "I mean it sounds bad, but I think that's what they've taught them." And what a valuable lesson. While our Facebook pages, Pinterest boards, and boardroom walls may be littered with inspirational quotes about overcoming struggle and triumphing, how many of us incorporate struggle into our curriculums? Are we embracing the challenge posed us by struggling students and children? Are we willing to give those students to whom things come easily assignments that are too difficult in order to teach them the value of tackling a problem head on and not quitting until it's solved? I know that this is a lot to consider. When faced with a struggling student, it's hard to see this as an opportunity. It's difficult and it requires more time, more effort, more energy, and for your average homeschooling parent, these are commodities already in short supply!

In my education, most subjects came pretty easily to me until I got to high school when algebra, geometry, and biology rocked my confident little mind. In my algebra and biology classes my teachers had no time for someone like me who struggled with the topics. There was no encouragement, no guidance. I struggled alone and did poorly because these teachers devoted all their energies to the students who quickly grasped the subjects. I remember feeling as though I was drowning under an avalanche of incomprehensible material. This feeling was entirely new to me and I did not know what to do with it! I did not want to admit struggle because I equated that with failure. 

My geometry teacher was different. She did not write off students who found the material challenging. She embraced the students who struggled and worked with us until we understood the concepts. And I can tell you that the A- I earned in that class meant so much more to me than the other classes I sailed through.

And yet, even in my own experience, I never equated struggle with something that was fundamentally important. Academic struggle has been devalued in our culture and I think it's to our detriment. Struggle has many benefits, not immediately seen by young students in the midst of the difficulty. Those who struggle and triumph gain a confidence that will take them a long way. It can also create empathy. If you have never struggled to grasp a concept, it's difficult to feel for those who do. And, I believe that struggle, academic or otherwise, creates a fortitude of person. Of course, these benefits only come if a person is able to work through that struggle and come to a successful end. If the problems placed before a child are too difficult and the struggle is futile and this experience is repeated on a regular basis, this can be severely damaging. As with most things, it's in the balance that one finds the benefit. So, I would love to hear from you! Are you prone to minimize any struggles your student may encounter? Do you embrace it? At what point do you step in and limit struggle? For students who are naturally gifted, how do you challenge them so that they can experience the process of struggle? Do you think our culture will ever be able to adapt a more Asian perspective on struggle and incorporate that into our classrooms? And in case you haven't clicked it already, here's another link to the radio show and here's a link to the transcript in case you'd rather read it. 

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Photo Credit: greenbaychic

Monday, November 12, 2012

Remembering Veterans' and Armistice Day

Across Europe and the US, November 11th is a day set aside to remember those who have served in our armed forces and have paid the ultimate price in the defense of liberty. In the UK the day is informally known as Poppy Day and in the weeks leading up to November 11, people pin poppies to their lapels in remembrance of the armistice that ended World War I on the western front. The poppies, of course, are in reference to Lt. colonel Joh McCrae's beautiful and haunting World War I poem, In Flander's Field

Poppy wreath left at a World War I memorial in Edinburgh, Scotland

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Originally known as Armistice Day, November 11 was proclaimed a holiday by President Woodrow Wilson:
"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."
On May 13, 1838, a Congressional Act made the 11th of November a legal holiday stating it was "a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day'." 
The American Cemetery in France

In 1945, Raymond Weeks, a World War II veteran lobbied for a change in the holiday. Instead of being known as Armistice Day, he advocated a national day to recognize all US veterans. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower supported Week's cause and in 1947 the first national Veterans' Day was celebrated.
Across America there will be events commemorating the men and women who have served our country in the armed forces. It is often customary to set aside a moment of silence at 11am to mark the end of the first world war and many of you will live in towns where you will be able to attend parades, listen to speeches from veterans and elected officials. 
Following the divisive election, it is a good reminder to set aside a moment to remember we are all united as Americans and we owe much to those who came before us. Today is a day to honor those who serve us, to pray for them, and to pray for an end to all war. 
In case you missed it:

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Friday, November 09, 2012

Thanksgiving Resources

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is uniquely American (well, Canada also celebrates it making it uniquely North American!), and I am excited to be spending Thanksgiving stateside for the first time in several years. Celebrating with fellow Americans while abroad was always a special time and it made me very aware of how meaningful this day truly is. Our nation, through presidential proclamation, sets aside one day each year to express thanks to God. While it may have become nothing more than an opportunity to overeat and watch football for many, it is still a time for many people to come together and recognize the incredible blessing we have been given by our Creator.

While the setting aside of a day for thanksgiving had been a tradition in many states, particularly in New England, it was Lincoln who declared that it be made into a national holiday. Here is is proclamation:

By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln

You'll notice that this was established in 1863, the same year that President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The country was bitterly divided by a civil war and of all the times to give thanks, this probably wouldn't be the most apparent. Yet, it is telling that in a time of national suffering and trial, there was a recognition that gratitude was still in order. What a fitting reminder for our nation now coming on the tails of a divisive electoral season. 

In order to help you learn about the establishment of Thanksgiving, I want to share some excellent resources for you and your family to explore together. 

The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh
The Thanksgiving Story "is the only really distinguished book we have on that holiday. Miss Dalgliesh has told the Pilgrim story simply from the point of view of the Hopkins family whose little Oceanus was born on the Mayflower; and Miss Sewell has made wonderful full-color pictures. A beautiful book." -The Horn Book

The Pilgrims of Plimoth by Marcia Sewall
When the pilgrims set out for America, they brought with them a dream for the future. Sickness, hardship, and heartache stood in the way of that dream. But the pilgrims worked hard, keeping their dream close to their hearts, until they were finally able to make it come true. Marcia Sewell's text draws on journal entries from the Pilgrims and recreates their lives in striking detail. Beautiful illustrations accompany the text.

The Landing of the Pilgrims by James Daugherty
In England in the early 1600s, everyone was forced to join the Church of England. Young William Bradford and his friends believed they had a right to belong to whichever church they wanted. In the name of religious freedom, they fled to Holland, then sailed to America to start a new life. But the winter was harsh, and before a year passed, half the settlers had died. Yet through hard work and strong faith, a tough group of Pilgrims did survive. Their belief in freedom of religion became an American ideal that still lives on today. Based mainly on William Bradford's personal diary, this is a must-read for all who are interested in knowing more about the Pilgrims.

Pilgrim Stories by Margaret Pumphrey
This 1910 publication has been newly edited and expanded to include a horizontal history of the world of the Pilgrims of the early 17th century. This replaces the formerly titled Stories of the Pilgrims used in our Early American History Primary Study Guide. Now children will learn not only the faithful saga of the Separatist's struggle for religious freedom, but also that young Rembrandt was just learning to walk when the Pilgrims arrived in Leiden, that Galileo was fighting his own battle for religious and scientific freedom, and that William Brewster served as clerk to Queen Elizabeth's secretary until the ill-fated execution of Elizabeth's half sister, Mary. Historical figures from around the world will see the Pilgrim's heroic struggle in a more meaningful context. With whimsical illustrations by Christen Blechschmid, children and parents alike will see the world as the Pilgrims saw and lived it.

Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla
An ideal introduction to this important segment of the Pilgrim story, This account is among the best we've seen it tells the amazing story of Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe, who went to London with some of the first English explorers, was sold into slavery in Spain, and finally returned to America where he befriended the Pilgrims when they landed.

Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness
A beautifully illustrated book which relates the personal story of the Allerton family from the perspective of young Bartholomew, Mary and Remember. These elaborate watercolors with detailed maps, time lines and tender depictions of Pilgrim life will be a treasured addition to your family library.

One tradition my family has included in our past Thanksgiving Day celebrations is the reading of the poem Five Kernels of Corn. Each person would receive five kernels of corn on their plate and we would take a moment to read through the poem and consider the depravation the Pilgrims experienced during that first winter in the New World. During that period half of the Pilgrims died from starvation, exposure, and disease. It was following this terrible period of tragedy that they gathered together to give thanks. Reading this poem before Thanksgiving dinner is a meaningful way to mark the history represented by the meal you're about to partake of. 

Five Kernels of Corn
by Hezekiah Butterworth
'Twas the year of the famine in Plymouth of old,
The ice and the snow from the thatched roofs had rolled;
Through the warm purple skies steered the geese o'er the seas,
And the woodpeckers tapped in the clocks of the trees;
And the boughs on the slopes to the south winds lay bare,
and dreaming of summer, the buds swelled in the air.
The pale Pilgrims welcomed each reddening morn;
There were left but for rations Five Kernels of Corn.
Five Kernels of Corn!
Five Kernels of Corn!
But to Bradford a feast were Five Kernels of Corn!

"Five Kernels of Corn! Five Kernels of Corn!
Ye people, be glad for Five Kernels of Corn!"
So Bradford cried out on bleak Burial Hill,
And the thin women stood in their doors, white and still.
"Lo, the harbor of Plymouth rolls bright in the Spring,
The maples grow red, and the wood robins sing,
The west wind is blowing, and fading the snow,
And the pleasant pines sing, and arbutuses blow.
Five Kernels of Corn!
Five Kernels of Corn!
To each one be given Five Kernels of Corn!"

O Bradford of Austerfield hast on thy way,
The west winds are blowing o'er Provincetown Bay,
The white avens bloom, but the pine domes are chill,
And new graves have furrowed Precisioners' Hill!
"Give thanks, all ye people, the warm skies have come,
The hilltops are sunny, and green grows the holm,
And the trumpets of winds, and the white March is gone,
Five Kernels of Corn!
Five Kernels of Corn!
Ye have for Thanksgiving Five Kernels of Corn!

"The raven's gift eat and be humble and pray,
A new light is breaking and Truth leads your way;
One taper a thousand shall kindle; rejoice
That to you has been given the wilderness voice!"
O Bradford of Austerfield, daring the wave,
And safe through the sounding blasts leading the brave,
Of deeds such as thine was the free nation born,
And the festal world sings the "Five Kernels of Corn."
Five Kernels of Corn!
Five Kernels of Corn!
The nation gives thanks for Five Kernels of Corn!

To the Thanksgiving Feast bring Five Kernels of Corn!
I have heard of some people using the kernels to add additional meaning to the meal. You can pass a cup around the table and as it passes by each person they add one kernel to the cup and list something for which they are thankful. The cup is passed around until everyone has added all their kernels. 
Do you have any special Thanksgiving traditions? I would love to hear about them. Share them with our readers in the comment section below! 
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Thursday, November 08, 2012

Introducing Samantha

I am so excited about this new section on our blog. At the beginning of this school year we had the pleasure of getting to know Samantha Lam. She's a homeschooling mom of three boys and this year saw her making a shift from a classical approach of teaching to a Charlotte Mason approach. She began using our Early American History for Primary curriculum and is going to be blogging about her experience. She'll be providing snapshots throughout the year and I know her experience will speak to many of you. So, without further ado, I am going to let Samantha take the floor:

My name is Samantha Lam and I am a homeschool mom of three amazing boys; Josh and Jordan who are seven-year old twins, and Jacob who will tell you he is “super three”. My husband Jonathan and I have been married for 10 years this December.

I had seriously considered homeschooling when the twins were two after reading Marilyn Boyer’s book Home Educating with Confidence. But as my boys turned three, Joshua was diagnosed with Autism. Overwhelmed and confused, I was convinced by psychiatrists and specialists that Joshua needed to be in the public school system where he would get the expert care he needed. After two weeks at our local program, I knew something wasn’t working. I was not willing to continue to subject my sweet boy to an environment where he was clearly miserable. I pulled him out and placed him and his brother into a private preschool. We were so fortunate to have a wonderful and amazingly loving teacher who took great care of my Joshua his first year. But by his second year, at age 4, I was being pressured to allow the teachers more control over any emotional issues he was having. After the first half of his second year, we made the decision to pull both of the boys from preschool and have them home with me.

I was extremely fortunate that there was already an established homeschooling group in my church. Many of them had become part of a national classical group that was very structured and “all laid out,” making the transition easy for me. Not to say the first year was easy. I had a perfectionist on my hands, an autistic child, and a new baby. I was just plain tired.

For two years, I was grateful to have the support and structure of this wonderful classical group. Many of the women in this group had been long time friends. We had been single together, been in each other’s weddings, and entered into motherhood together. And now what a joy to be homeschooling our children together. Our group met together once a week and followed the outlined structure of this classical program. We put on plays, had picnics and field trips, the kids built great friendships and we had it all laid out for us. It really left little to research. I added language arts and math, and we were complete.

Over this past summer, a portion of this group planned to attend the local homeschool conference. I actually wasn’t planning on attending the first day, but God seemed to have a different plan. Convinced
by a friend we should go hear a particular speaker, we headed out Thursday afternoon to hear Rea Berg. The title of her talk was "Homeschooling with Creativity and Passion". As I had heard many different talks on homeschooling thru the years, I was a bit surprised how much this talk had an effect on me. There was something in the way she talked about education and  connecting with our children thru great literature that really moved me. We spent most of the afternoon and evening on the exhibit floor at the Beautiful Feet booth, picking at both Russ and Rea’s brains. What an amazing opportunity, but it was also a bit unsettling. I had known what I was doing in the fall already. I had a plan, a roadmap, and all my friends were already doing it too. I had no desire to change. None, whatsoever! But something was tugging at my heart and I felt the spirit leading me to be open to more than what I already knew.

Over the next few months, after much reading and research and prayer, I made the decision to make a major shift in my homeschooling philosophy. I had read Susan Schaeffer Macauley’s For The Children's Sake, and Karen Andreola’s Charlotte Mason Companion. I had purchased a number of the study packs from Beautiful Feet at the conference and had been reading many of the books with the boys over the summer. I was amazed by the way it affected them. We all know those days when all the children seem to have a hard time being “nice” to one another. Unkind words fly through the house like little weapons aiming at desired targets and causing havoc and tears. I would pull all the kids in to snuggle on the couch with a book and read. First I need to say this was a very different tactic than my usual “You kids need to be nicer! Stop acting that way!” speech. But the way these stories opened their hearts and truly changed the atmosphere in my home was amazing! And all without a mommy lecture!

We are now in the throes of what has started out as a wonderful third year. We have officially switched from a classical approach to a Charlotte Mason approach. I have begun a small group in my home where we have eight kids going thru the Early American History (Primary) pack. What an amazing time we all are having studying these historical figures.

I am so grateful to the Berg’s and the sharing of their hearts! It has changed my path and helped me to hear the call God has for me. I can’t wait to share more of my journey with you all! Come back and see what God continues to show me and how he plans to change me and my family!

Thank you Sam, it's going to be exciting to follow your experience throughout this year. For those of you interested in learning more about teaching history through literature and the Charlotte Mason approach, check out these previous blog posts:

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Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Election Day

Today we choose our president and the legislators who will govern us for the next two or four years. It's exciting and I loved being able to line up with fellow Americans to exercise this right. Earlier we shared some resources for explaining the election to your students. You can find those here.

Of course, every eye is on the outcome of the presidential election and I've come to realize that it isn't just every American eye. Living overseas has allowed me to see how our votes affect those around the world. When I was abroad in 2008 Europeans were very much tuned in to the election and it was fascinating to discuss their opinions about American government, elections, and presidents.

Today I thought it would be fun to share some resources on the presidency. The video below does a great job of explaining the history of the presidential residence, the White House. has a great introduction on each of the presidents and their wives.
The interactive tour of the White House is also very interesting. Did you know they have their own flower shop?

And, since we're book people, we thought we'd list some of our favorite biographies on our very first president:

George Washington by Ingri and Edgar d'Aulaire

George Washington's World by Genevieve Foster

And if you want to get to know President Washington in his own words, you have to check out this book. It's a treasure and provides a window into Washington's thought process as well as the time in which he lived. 

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