Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Check this out!!!

Read Aloud Revival is hosting another New Year Read Aloud Challenge and it looks and sounds fantastic. In fact, I'm going to sign up my three-year old. That's right. It's open to children ages 1-17 and its about them reading aloud, not you!

Check out all the details here!

We love everything Sara does to encourage families to spend time reading together and this is not a sponsored link. It's just something we at BFB think is pretty awesome and wanted to be sure all of you knew about it!

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Have a glorious and sacred Christmas

As we at BFB gather with our families and prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior, we are thinking of all of you, our wonderful friends who have made this a wonderful year for us. We've loved connecting with you at conventions, on the phone, over at Instagram and Facebook. You are each appreciated and valued. Thank you for being the best customers in the world! You inspire us to continue in our mission and we love seeing your homeschool and educational experiences enriched by great literature. 

We would love to share this Christmas meditation by our Rea Berg here.

The Vulnerability of a Virgin

“Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel, God with us.”  Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23
Image result for tanner mary painting
The Visitation by Henry Ossawa Tanner
This is the season of Advent.  “Advent” comes from the Latin–ad venire–meaning “to come to” and denotes a sense of anticipation or heralding the arrival of something.
For Mary, the arrival meant an unplanned pregnancy, the potential loss of everything–her home, her family, and possibly her life.
To be “found with child” before marriage (and during a betrothal) was a complete disaster in Ancient Hebrew culture. It was a tragedy with dire consequences.  Deuteronomy. 22:20 says, that if a man marries a maiden who claimed to be a virgin, and then finds out that she is not, “they shall bring the girl to the entrance of her father’s house and there the townsmen shall stone her to death.”
And Deuteronomy. 22:23 says, “If a man has relations within the walls of a city with a maiden who is betrothed, you shall bring them both out to the gate of the city and there stone them to death.  But if they were in the open fields, “the man alone shall die,” [because] the betrothed maiden may have cried out for help but there was no one to come to her aid.”
Mary’s unplanned pregnancy made her extraordinarily vulnerable. Vulnerable denotes being susceptible to being wounded or hurt–and what could possibly be more vulnerable than a young maiden with child?  Mary was susceptible to being wounded by her family, her community, her betrothed.
Vulnerable also means being open to moral attack, criticism, or temptation.
“Look! A young woman, a virgin, shall conceive and bear a son!” Yeah, right. Mary was vulnerable to contempt, scorn, to malicious mocking, to pure logic, to reason, to laughable disbelief, to the wagging of heads, the rolling eyes, the knowing smirks.
C.S. Lewis says of vulnerability:
To love at all is to be vulnerable.  Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.  If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal.  Wrap it carefully with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements.  Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change.  It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
Mary allowed herself to become vulnerable–to bear the potential shame, rejection, misunderstanding, disbelief, scorn and contempt that came as an unexpected outcome of her love and obedience to God.
The opposite of vulnerability is to be unbreakable, impenetrable, defensive, oppositional, intractable, insensitive, incapable of empathy or compassion.
Unwittingly, Mary carried within herself the King of Vulnerability.  When the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace, took on human form–and not only human form, but the most vulnerable–a tiny helpless babe, he demonstrated the power of becoming powerless, the majesty of laying aside all majesty, the honor of becoming the lowliest.  When the King of all eternity, the maker and sustainer of life, the genesis of all beauty, goodness, truth and light, came into the world he came stripped of everything but vulnerability.
Imagine the scene: the Eternal God has left the beauty, glory, and splendor of heaven–where “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man”–the wonders there, to be born of blood and water in a stable, dark, dank, cold, spread with urine-soaked hay, surrounded by the warm breath of animals, and their dung, and then wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.
Matthew Henry says of the “swaddling clothes” that they signify
“rent or torn . . . his very swaddles were ragged and torn.  His being born in a stable and laid in a manger [reflects] the poverty of his parents–had they been rich, room would have been made for them in the inn–being poor they must shift as they could. [The precious lamb of God] was born into an age of the corruption and degeneracy of manners–that a woman of virtue and honor should be used so barbarously  . . . if there had been any common humanity among them, they would not have turned a woman in travail [labor] into a stable.”
In this scene we see the vulnerability of Mary and the vulnerability of this precious infant.
Five-hundred years before Christ, the playwright Aeschylus wrestled with the fate of the perfectly just man–the man who loves justice for the beauty of the thing itself, and not because being just brings worldly blessings.  Plato recorded the thoughts of Aeschylus:
The perfectly just man must not be just merely for the love of justice, and not on account of worldly blessings that might accrue from  its practice.  Therefore the perfectly just man will be tried, will suffer all kinds of ills on account of his justice, and finally be crucified.  Plato–The Republic II
The King of glory chose the way of vulnerability fully, completely, and without reservation  Having perfect foreknowledge he knew what to expect from broken humanity.
We are called to follow the vulnerable One.  We are called to follow Him, who “made himself of no reputation.”  Becoming vulnerable is painful.  We open ourselves to an unknown future, one we don’t have foreknowledge of.
Bryan Stevenson in his book, Just Mercy says the following:
Paul Farmer, the renowned physician, who has spent his life trying to cure the world’s sickest and poorest people, one quoted me something that the writer Thomas Merton said: We are bodies of broken bones.  I guess I’d always known but never fully considered that being broken is what makes us human.  We all have our reasons.  Sometimes we’re fractured by the choices we make; sometimes we’re shattered by things we would never have chosen. But our brokenness is also the source of our
Image result for just mercy bryan stevensoncommon humanity, the basis for our shared search for comfort, meaning, healing.  Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion.  We have a choice.  We can embrace our humanness, which means embracing our broken natures and the compassion that remains our best hope for healing.  Or we can deny our brokenness, forswear compassion, and as a result, deny our own humanity” (288-289).
I want the compassion and empathy spoken of here, to be a reality in my life.  I know my love for those I ought to love best is often conditional, harsh, strained.  I am so often selfish, prideful, quick to anger, and quick to judge. This is the confession of my own brokenness that in reaching for the light, I might find hope for the darkness in myself.
“Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Emmanuel–God with us.” Our God made himself vulnerable in order to be the God that is with us. He does not stand afar, but stands with us in our sin, our pain, and our brokenness, to bring healing, light, and redemption.  That is the message of Christmas.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Modern American and World History

One of our newest programs in our Modern American and World History for grades 5-8. This literature-rich study picks up where our Early American History for Intermediate grades leaves off and has been very popular from it's introduction. Karyn from Teach Beside Me has been using it with her 6th grader and recently reviewed it here. A couple of highlights from her review hit right at the heart of what we want to accomplish with our literature approach to history programs. Here's a couple excerpts:

"I have been using the Modern American and World History curriculum with my 6th grade son. He is so happy with it and has really been thriving with this literature set. He is loving each and every book...He often forgets that he is supposed to only read certain chapters each day and reads beyond the assigned amount...His thoughts on the program are that it is simple and to the point. It makes history come to life and is making him think about how much the decisions we make matter in everyday life...He thinks it is the best way to learn history that we have ever done! He loves how the books are all related to each other, but each one has its own style and direction with new things to understand."

"In my discussions with a few other homeschool parents who have used Beautiful Feet Books, I have heard a few people talk about getting the books alone and not needing the literature guides. I have to say that I disagree completely. I was trying to do that in the past,  but never felt like there was enough structure and consistency to it. The Literature guides help with book order and guide you through it in such a wonderful way!   They are an amazing addition to this literature-rich curriculum."

Thank you Karyn for your kind words. Please read the complete review and check out Teach Beside Me for other great reviews and homeschool resources. 

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Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Ancient History Update from Melissa

Melissa at Reflections from Drywood Creek is updating us on her daughter's journey through our Ancient History, A Literature Approach. Check out her beautiful notebooking pages! Here's Melissa:

Riley is just finishing up week eight of her Beautiful Feet Intermediate Ancient History study and is loving it. So far, she has been reading from the Book of Genesis, Streams of Civilization, Tales of Ancient Egypt, The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, and Pyramid. She's enjoying the books, as well as the activities.

Riley's completing two lessons per week. The lessons are a bit long so we've split each lesson into two days, giving her a total of four days per week for history. I am including photos of Riley's notebooking pages below in order to give you an idea of the types of assignments included in the guide. Aside from reading, there are bible verses to copy, essay questions, map work, illustrations to draw, and topics to research.

Continue reading about Riley's experience and see more pictures here

Thank you Melissa and Riley for sharing! We look forward to seeing more. If you have questions about teaching history through literature or want to learn more about our study guides, check out our website or give us a call at 800.889.1978.

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Thursday, November 03, 2016

Aspirational Greatness

by Rebecca Berg Manor

There are few feelings like those experienced at the beginning of a great musical performance. Sitting in a grand opera hall, the velvet chairs clicking as well-dressed people take their seats. The gorgeous discordance of the orchestra tuning up. The hush that comes over the crowd as the curtain lifts. Anticipation. And then, the first notes of a great composition break through the hush and you are transported to another place. This is exposure to greatness. It inspires. It motivates. It allows you to experience beauty.

Seeing great art provides the same experience. I remember standing in front of Rembrandt's masterpiece Return of the Prodigal at the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg and being so moved I had tears running down my face. Not one for public displays of emotion, I was surprised at my response but knew that being able to see such greatness in person was one of those moments that would impact me for the rest of my life.

Witnessing greatness plants seeds of humility in our hearts. When we sit and watch an orchestra play a classic masterpiece we are struck not only by the talents of the composer, it is the painstakingly cultivated skills of the performing musicians that bring the piece to life. We are reminded that achieving such a proficiency in any area requires discipline, years of training and practice, and inspiring amounts of hard work. In an era that measures success in material terms, one can lose sight of what is truly great. While magazines give awards in categories of beauty, financial success, and fame, the arts and history provide a counterpoint to these surface-y accolades. And history provides an antidote to the entitlement that is so pervasive in our culture of instant gratification and 2-day shipping. As a culture we have settled for measuring greatness by shoddy standards and our history suffers for it. When textbooks either portray a historical figure as nothing more than an accomplishment (Columbus and his voyage to the "New World" or George Washington becoming the first president of the United States) we cheat ourselves and our children of the inspiring aspects of their stories. In the instance of Columbus, we fail to see the years he devoted to pursuing his dream. We fail to see George Washington as a man who did not want to be president and governed with humility and sought advise from those he respected. On the other hand, when history is reduced to hero-worship we forget Columbus' greed and the brutality his men showed to the native people they encountered. We forget or whitewash George Washington's punting on the issue of slavery. Full-colored history provides aspirational portraits of greatness along with warnings we would be wise to heed. The great stories of the past allow us to dive into them, to mull over their many-faceted details, to provide a model of growth. Great art inspires, gives us a glimpse of what is possible should we devote ourselves to hard work and discipline. Its countercultural today to admire the greatness that results from hard work and discipline, but it may be one of the antidotes to the entitlement and celebrity-seeking narcissism that seems to be increasing at an alarming pace.

I would love to hear about your encounters with greatness. Has a piece of music, a performance, a painting, an encounter with a personal hero provided you with a model by which you've grown and matured? Share in the comments!  

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Our Favorite Books for Thanksgiving!

by Rebecca Berg Manor

Where I live in south Florida the change of season is marked by subtle changes and there is no anticipation of "winter" but the shorter days signal the coming of snowbirds, more traffic, slightly cooler temps, and the holidays! I have just noticed that it's getting darker earlier and it makes me think, "Christmas!!" But before the holiday arrives with it's sweet anticipation, we have Thanksgiving to look forward to. Time to visit the library and check out some of these wonderful titles or purchase them to add to the family library. Here are some of my favorites.
Giving Thanks edited by Katherine Paterson
This is an essential title to add to your family library. Not only are the cut-out illustrations brilliant, the collected poems, prayers, and songs are applicable all year long. Perfect for opening your Thanksgiving meal, this beautiful book would be great to pull out each day in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving to nurture a grateful spirit, encourage gratitude in your children, and prepare hearts for the holiday season ahead. It's perfect for Poetry Tea Time, morning breakfast readings, post-dinner reflections, and just staring at the intricate artwork. 

Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Nostalgic, celebratory, and festive, this is a great book for creating excitement around the traditions of Thanksgiving. 

Feast For 10 by Kathryn Fallwell
While not technically a Thanksgiving book, this lovely story captures the excitement and labor that goes into creating a feast for family and friends. It's lovely illustrations communicate family affection, excitement and joy.

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 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.

William Bradford, Pilgrim Boy by Bradford Smith
This book will tell you all about the brave man who led the Pilgrims in their quest for the freedom to worship God in the matter they saw fit to. Orphaned at a young age, William Bradford was formed by forces which were providentially preparing him for the great call upon his life. Follow his life from his boyhood in Scrooby, England through the years when he led the Pilgrims as the first governor of Plimoth Plantation.

As you get closer to the big day, it may be fun to do some research on the lives of the Pilgrims and Native children who lived in and around the Pilgrim village. To do so, check out Pilmoth Plantation's website. There is a whole section of activities for kids including gamesrecipes, a chance to investigate the first Thanksgiving, and much more.

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. 

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Raising Creative Kids

by Rebecca Berg Manor

Homeschooling today looks so different from when I was growing up in the 1980s. In the early days of the movement when I was young, there was a lot of fear of failure and fear of state interventions. It was new territory and so most home educators duplicated a classroom environment and schedule at home. There was an emphasis on academic performance and producing good test results because this movement needed to prove itself. Now I see this generation of home schooling parents enjoying the freedom allowed by being part of a movement that has reached maturity, proven itself, and been found to be a legitimate option for many people. This generation of homeschooling parents, many of them second generation home schoolers, have embraced a more free and open education for their children. Movements like "Wild and Free" and an emphasis on character over curriculum, embrace the individuality of each child and allow education to be driven by curiosity, interest, and exploration of nature. So, when the above video popped up in my Facebook feed, I thought I'd share it here because it reinforces the importance of many of the things you all are already doing!

Between the growing popularity of poetry tea time, nature exploration clubs, creativity based education, and an emphasis on character, you're encouraging the free-thinking that is fertile ground for non-conformist thinking and problem solving. Bravo!

I loved the part about addressing life questions through book characters. When your child's education is chocked full of great literature, you are giving them rich fodder for creative thinking. So, toss out those boring textbooks, and reach for stories. We're here to help you do just that! And continue on in the good work you're doing! We're approaching the mid-semester mark and the new shine is wearing off, but be encouraged by this, you are investing in lives in ways that truly matter.

We Would love to hear what you think! Chime in below in the comment 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
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Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Again...and again...and again. The value of repetition.

by Rebecca Berg Manor

I'm in the middle of the endless rereading of favorite books with my two-year-old. Last night my husband read Lost and Found three times, after which our son brought the book to me for a fourth reading. Every parent knows this ritual of childhood. It's equal parts endearing and mind-numbingly boring. It's a rare book that can weather the storm of toddler-demanded repetitive readings without becoming somewhat annoying to the person tasked with the reading. Each Peach, Pear, Plum  is one that I still enjoy reading despite months of repetition.

As we have all been through this with our children, it comes as no surprise that one of the questions parents often ask us, is why do you repeat some of the books in your early American history programs? And should I follow the Early American History for Primary Grades with the Early American History for Intermediate Grades. Our answers are mostly, yes and yes!

Between the Primary-level and Intermediate-level Early American History studies three books are the same, d'Aulaire biographies on Columbus, Pocahontas, and Benjamin Franklin. These books are the best biographies we are aware of on these figures and as students progress from the primary level to the intermediate, they will be able to read these books on their own, adding a new experience to familiar material. We find that this is encouraging to students as well as empowering.

In terms of repeating the time period studied in both programs, it's important to remember that not only are students learning history at this level, they're learning how to study history. They're also learning what history is: the stories of people like them! The ability to immerse oneself in a time period grows with repetition. Just as children request to hear the same stories over and over, taking the time to repeat the study of our nation's history gives them the ability build a strong foundation for understanding not just that time period, but how history works, how our world is affected by ideas and action, and how that relates to our lives. Kim John Payne, in his book Simplicity Parenting,  observes that "Repetition is a vital part of relationship building for children. By repeating experiences and scenarios in play, as well as in storytelling and reading, kids are able to incorporate what they learn. Repetition deepens the experience and relationship for a child; it helps them claim it as their own...The consistency and security of such repetition is very soothing for young children."

We've found this to be true. As a student becomes comfortable in a time period, she begins to explore more, to ask more questions, to follow rabbit trails. This is especially important in the younger years. So don't be nervous about repeating a time period (or books!) in those first years. It's comfortable for the child and will help them gain a strong foundation from which to branch out and study other eras, cultures, geographies, and more.

We would love to hear what you think! Chime in below in the comment 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
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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

#backtoschoolwithBFB Winners!

So, we're a day late in announcing our photo contest winner because we simply could not choose only one from the amazing photos you all sent us! We absolutely loved seeing your beautiful families, your lesson plans, peeks into your student's notebooks, glimpses at how wonderful books are impacting your family. It was a joy to get each entry. And even though we said there would be only one winner, we decided to award two more prizes! So, here they are.

3rd Place 
$25.00 gift certificate to BFB

In 3rd place, we loved this table scene, chock full of works in progress, beauty being created, and learning happening. Congratulations Jenlovesaqua!
And the messy homeschool table has returned ❤️. We dove right into American history today learning about Jamestown, Capt John Smith and Pocahontas (the non Disney story) and about the difficulties the colonists faced along with the moral issues claiming land that indians already lived on. And they loved it! Also my boys take advantage of any excuse to draw sailing ships ⚓️

2nd Place
$50.00 gift certificate to BFB

I think we all fell a little bit in love with this scene. The orange, the globe, the knitting. And then we read the caption and realized these sweet boys were returning to last years study because they remembered they enjoyed it. Hooray for raising life-time learners! Congratulations farmhouse_schoolhouse!
They finished their @beautifulfeetbooks science study this morning and I told them they could have free time. I walk into their room a few minutes later and find them with one of last year's @beautifulfeetbooks. "What are you guys doing?" They smiled at me, "Just remembering our adventure with Columbus and doing more research and imagining, it's our free time right? You said we could do whatever." They are always reminding me that learning should be delightful and fun. So for those asking recently how we loved the Early American History study? I think this quick capture says it all! They loved it so much, they go back for visits with their old friends. πŸ˜‚πŸ’•πŸŒŽπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

1st Place
$100.00 gift certificate to BFB

Not only to we appreciate that eight subjects have chosen a favorite title from one of our many history through literature studies, we also appreciate the logistical effort that must have gone into creating this endearing picture. And then we realized even the animals in this family read, and knew this was the entry. Check out those goats reading Augustus Caesar's World. Congratulation meteorsandmeadowlarks!
The goats know that September brings falling leaves, crisp apples, and great literature. Everyone has a favorite book from Beautiful Feet Books

Thank you to everyone who entered! We will do this again. And keep adding those pictures of your family using BFB. Just use #beautifulfeetbooks or @beautifulfeetbooks so we can find them.

Winners, give us a call at 800.889.1978 to claim your prize!
We would love to hear what you think! Chime in below in the comment 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
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Monday, September 19, 2016

When should I stop reading aloud to my children?

Rebecca Berg Manor

Although the question is always framed a bit differently, we often encounter some form of the above question. "If my student is reading independently, can she do this curriculum on her own?" "At what point should my son start reading these books on his own?" "Is this curriculum supposed to be read aloud even in junior high/high school?" It's easy to understand why parents ask this. Often they're teaching multiple children, and/or balancing a job, running after toddlers, fulfilling social responsibilities, and much more. Reading aloud is time consuming and many home school parents look forward to the time when their youngsters are able to read independently.

We have found that the value gained by reading aloud does not cease when a student becomes an independent reader. In fact, we believe, along with Doug Lemov, author of Teach like a Champion and co-author of Reading Reconsidered that the time when your student is able to read independently is the very time you should amp up the read-alouds. This excerpt from the article linked here, explains it wonderfully:
Kids should pick books they love, and read what they want on their own. Agency is key. But there is a popular perception that to get kids to love to read, we should make it easy. That way they can make it through, build confidence, and ideally, start to love reading on their own...Lemov has more faith in kids, as long as they can harness the help of parents or other caregivers to help them along. 'Because challenge is far more engaging in the long run than pandering,' he writes.

When using literature to teach history, reading aloud also allows you to introduce more complex
stories and concepts. It's one of the many reasons our K-3 level history programs contain books that are written at a 5th or 6th grade reading level. These books add a richness to the study that would be missing if the curriculum were limited to books written for 2nd graders. Children are often able to comprehend so much more than we realize and using that ability to introduce them to a varied and challenging smorgasbord of story, literature, poetry, and myth will enliven their minds, whet their appetite for more reading, spark their curiosity, and provide great fodder for discussion. You probably noticed that the language employed in the previous sentence is language usually associated with food and eating. I believe there is a parallel. Studies have shown that breastfeeding mothers who eat a varied diet expose their babies to more flavors via their breastmilk leading to less picky toddlers. When we wean our babies we don't stop introducing food when they're able to spoon feed themselves bland cereal.We continue to challenge them with new flavors and textures. we introduce chopped bites of avocado, banana, chicken. The same should hold true for reading aloud – don't stop challenging your children when they're able to read. It's just the beginning of a whole life-time of experiencing all the literary world has to offer. And keep reading aloud until they leave home. Family read-aloud time never goes to waste. It's a gift that family members can give to one another. Don't forget that sharing stories is a human tradition that goes back to the very beginning of human history. It is something we never outgrow.
Don't forget to enter our Back-to-School with BFB contest. Details here.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Back to Home School!

Is today your first day back to (home)school?? In the midst of the fun, don't forget to enter our photo contest! Post a pic with your BFB books/guides/timelines/maps on our Instagram and Facebook page. We've received some amazing entries and can't wait to see yours. Post your picture on Facebook or Instagram and be sure to add #backtoschoolwithBFB for a chance to win a $100.00 gift certificate to use at Extra points awarded for creativity! Make sure to tag it with #backtoschoolwithBFB to ensure it gets entered in the contest and follow along for inspiring and adorable pics from other BFB families. Deadline for entries is September 25, 2016. We'll announce the winner on September 30, 2016.

Full terms and conditions here.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Discipline (and Joy) of Notebooking

by Rebecca Berg Manor

Back in 1984, when Beautiful Feet Books was just starting out, there were very limited resources available for home educators, so we had to start from scratch. One tool that we always found to be a reliable standby was the humble composition notebook. It served students as a creative outlet, journal, portfolio, and much more. In the past 32 (!) years we've never strayed from recommending that students keep notebooks as they progress through our studies so when I came across this quote on Instagram, I had to share it.

"No other learning tool has more purity of approach than a blank notebook. Like the artist's canvas, it has the creative potential of becoming anything the author wishes to portray. It's natural form makes it adaptable to any task or learning situation. The content, rather than being dictated by a pre-set curriculum, is determined by the family, meeting their unique and individual needs. When the development of learning tools becomes the focus rather than merely gaining content, then the family is free to use all of life as their curriculum." Marilyn Howshall

Thank you so much kinderfarm homeschool for sharing that quote. It perfectly sums up what we have believed all along. Now that we live in a more fast-paced time and our students are drawn more and more to "interactive" media, the discipline of keeping a notebook can seem rather old-fashioned and maybe even pointless. We do hear from parents whose children find the notebooking activities suggested in our guides to be less than thrilling, and we understand the tension between teaching the disciplines of education and the desire to make learning fun in every way. Here's some tips for combining the two.

First, just as Howshall so eloquently states, notebooks are tools. We never offered worksheets for our
notebooks because we believe in the freedom and promise of a blank sheet of paper. Our guides all contain writing prompts to help you begin and carry on the notebooking process but it's important to push aside the workbook/worksheet mentality while notebooking. This begins with the notebook itself. Choose one that your child likes. Many people use a sewn-bound notebook and only put their best work in it. This approach results in a great portfolio of the student's work. Others prefer a spiral notebook. This can be useful for removing pages if necessary. I love these notebooks pictured to the right. Moleskines, three-ring binders, they're all great! Use the format that works best for your child.

Secondly, we provide free print-outs for many of our study guides (available here) and these are great for adding color to student notebooks along with mapping activities to incorporate geography. When using these printouts, let your children's creativity go wild. If they prefer using water colors to colored pencils, or if they want to draw their own illustrations, these assignments are opportunities for your children to exercise creative license! It can be so tempting to want our children to create brag-worthy portfolios but these are their projects and should reflect their aesthetic.

Third, notebooks are for recording. After your student has had fun creating/drawing/painting/sketching, this is the time for labeling and recording. Study after study shows that writing things out by hand reinforces memory and information processing. So, while your student may not find this to be his favorite activity of the day, it is important. This activity incorporates handwriting, composition, and reasoning, so remind your students that their accomplishing a lot in these assignments. If your children are very young, feel free to label the pictures for them until they are proficient enough in writing to do it themselves. While it is important that written work be done, it's also good to make it as enjoyable as possible for children who find it challenging. "Short and simple" is the key for children who find this extra challenging. Some students will love writing in their notebooks, others will not. Do not worry too much about the students who don't find it enjoyable. As their appreciation for story and language grows through exposure to great literature, their abilities to write will expand.

Last, provide good materials. When a student is creating, it's very helpful to have colored pencils that blend and aren't so hard that they make everything look messy. It's wonderful to have watercolors that are saturated with color and good paper to use them on. It makes for a much more pleasant experience if your students have tools that facilitate creative expression, not hinder it.

For inspiration on notebooking, check out these blogs: Jodi Mockabee, kinderfarm homeschool, and our Instagram (where we're constantly posting pictures from homeschooling mommas!).

We hope your students enjoy the creative outlet provided by notebooking and grow in the critical reasoning and processing that the discipline fosters. And we LOVE seeing your children's notebook pages, so snap a picture and post it on our Facebook page or Instagram. And tag it with #backtoschoolwithBFB for a chance to win $100.00 to spend on our website.

Notebook photo credits: Reflections from Drywood Creek

Don't forget to enter our Back-to-School with BFB contest. Details here.