Friday, December 10, 2010

HD Crash

Our Hard Drive crashed the other day, so I'll be busy for a bit gathering resources again.

Hope to post again in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Unexpected Nature to Study

So with winter, we haven't been getting outside as much as I'd like, and we haven't really done a proper nature study since before Golf was born. Delta and Echo have asked when we would do a Nature Study....

Well, we haven't done much but we did get a surprise opportunity to observe some nature from out window.

On Thursday, Delta looked out our front window and said "there is a deer in our yard!" It didn't stay very long, but we all got a good look. Now, deer are often in our neighbourhood, especially at night - but we don't see them very often during the day. So I'm figuring - what are the chances? Well, on Friday - there was a deer in our yard again. It didn't stay long but we did get a quick glimpse. On Saturday, we saw 2 run through the yard. And today? Well, I was at church, but Delta and Foxtrot were home with dad because they were sick - and apparently there was one in the yard again today.

Delta had the chance on Friday or Saturday to be outside for a while, and he observed their tracks (apparently at some time - probably at night - a deer came almost right to our living room window.) Delta has also observed their "scat" in our yard.

Ask and ye shall receive?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Suzuki Update

I seem to be having a big drought of wonderfully insightful ideas to share with everyone, so I thought I'd share how Suzuki violin has been going with the Maple Hill Academy recently.

We just had our Winter concert, and that went quite well. Delta played in about 7 or 8 of the songs, including Minuet 1 which he had just gotten passed off by the teacher to play in the concert. Echo played in 3 of the songs. And I've discovered that my camera doesn't have enough space to tape all their songs anymore. It has the biggest SD card it can use, and that size card is so small that you can't find them to buy more. Oh well, I guess I know what is on my wish list.... but I don't think that wish will be granted for a while.

Delta has gotten a lot better with practices now. I had seen an improvement before, but the last couple of weeks he has really improved (although he still sometimes gets upset when it is time to start.... but then works hard.) I think he has seen the relationship between practice and progress. And he is in a group class now that is all boys about the same age, and all in the last few songs of book 1... and a couple seem to progress a bit faster, and he wants to play more songs.

Then, the last 2 weeks, I changed a bit of how we are doing the practice - giving him a little more input into things. The changes are based on things that I've read on the internet at various places.

First, I found a chart for handling review songs a bit better. Before we had been trying to do each review song once a week - but that just didn't always work. Now we have categorized all the songs he can play. A songs are ones that he doesn't feel he could ever forget. B songs are ones that he feels really confident on. C songs are ones that could use a bit more work, or more polishing. D songs are ones that really need work - either recent ones, or ones that he forgot. We will categorized the songs every 2 weeks. A songs are played once in the 2 week period. B songs twice. C songs 4 times, and D songs are done each day. A couple of the D songs are chosen to be specifically worked on. I let Delta decide where each song was categorized, and over-all I think he did a pretty good job. This was part of his input.

Then I took our basic checklist type practice sheet for the week. The list now seems a lot more manageable, as things are grouped together more. Basically, his list this week was: Tonalizations, Review Songs (he needs to do 3 to 4 a day to handle the A-C lists over the 2 weeks), His "Lick" assigned by the teacher (or any other assignments from her), his "D-list Songs", His "Name" song (will discuss below), his Reading practice, and his new song. He can pick which order he does these (and if he is going to do it all at once or break it up into a couple of different practice sessions in the day.) He also is selecting the review songs... sometimes he just chooses, sometimes he spins a spinner we have, and sometimes he draws from cards I made up with all the songs. If he picks one randomly that he has already practiced enough for the 2 week period, he just picks another (until they have all been done - then he can pick whatever.)

For the D List songs, we are playing the game from the "I love to practice kit" for the song we want to focus on most days, although that depends a bit on our time etc. We have only owned the kit for a few months, and the first few times we used it, he didn't seem to like it so much - so I put it away.... but he seemed happy to try it again, and when he saw how quickly he pulled together Minuet 1 from barely able to play through it to playing it well in just a couple of days, I think he is "sold" on it.

Now - the new incentive/progress tracking thing.... the "Name Songs". This also will tie in nicely with the "AAA club" that is new to our Suzuki program here. That is the Anytime, Anywhere, for Anybody club. Basically, there will be some recognition for students that have 10 songs that the teacher and student has signed as being able to be played with a skill of 10/10, and could be played anytime, anywhere, for anybody. However, the Name Songs is a little different, and was an idea I found on the internet. I used Word to make a sign that has my son's name and the words Book 1 on it. So it would say "Delta Book 1". I picked a nice font for it, and setup the format of the font to "Outline" so that the words can be coloured in. Then I took the printout, added a few lines to break the words up into 22 parts for the 22 songs in book 1, (6 twinkle variations, and 16 other songs) and then I numbered them lightly with pencil. For each song, there will be 2 stages.

The first stage, Delta will play the song CORRECTLY at home 25x in a week, not missing any days. (He is doing about 6x each day, to allow for the odd day when practice might be cut short and he can only play the song once...) Correctly means correct fingerings, correct bowing, but not necessarily with the dynamics. They can even stop-place-play if desired. Oh, the 25x correctly don't have to be in a row, but any incorrect playings don't count. Once he has played the 25x correctly, he gets a small sticker on the number on his sign, and moves to stage 2.

The second stage, Delta will continue to practice the song each day as much or as little as he feels necessary to polish in items like the dynamics and timing. Once ready he will ask the teacher to "test" him for the song for the AAA club (if we didn't have the AAA club, he would just ask to be tested on the song being polished). Once that song has been accepted as a 10 by both him and the teacher, he will get to colour in that part of his sign.

We just started the "name songs" a week and a half ago, and he has been working hard on the twinkles. Of course they are easy songs for him, but it is great to see him eagerly working at getting 25 repetitions in for the week. And it is creating a good habit of really working at repeating a song correctly that will aid him with the harder songs. I am looking forward to seeing him get to colour in his sign. The making of this sign has also made him notice how close he is getting (in the number of songs) to the end of book 1.

Now all that said, Echo hasn't been at all interested in her name sign, and has not wanted to work on her "name songs" at all. In fact, she doesn't seem to interested in practice at all, and isn't liking the "I Love to Practice Kit" still.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Handwriting Review

A couple of years ago, I started to worry about what I would do for handwriting for my kids. I felt it was important, because I didn't want to keep switching what we were doing on them. With research, I found some articles on teaching cursive handwriting first. It made sense to me. There were a LOT of reasons, which I'm not going to go into here - basically the ones that really stuck for me was that people usually revert to writing what they learned first, and that cursive is actually easier.

With more looking, I started out with a program called "Cursive First". It was designed to be used with a reading program by the same company, but could be used alone. When Delta started Year 1, we started up with the Cursive First.... which seemed to take us a long time. In the spring of last year, I had some reservations. His handwriting was 'ok' when we were doing handwriting - but any other time - even writing his name - he used an untaught print. Of course, it doesn't help that anytime anyone writes anything for kids, they print. But on top of that, he had to have the model of what he was to write right above him, and it was slow!

So - I did more research, talked to some people, and got more recommendations. And, I found "Peterson Directed Handwriting". I also happened to find this right as Echo started begging for writing lessons. Oh yeah - she is left-handed!

Peterson Directed Handwriting uses a different concept than most handwriting programs. Instead of tracing dotted lines with a pencil, or other means of tracing - instead you talk as you write to use a different part of the brain, and to create muscle memory.

Peterson does have a manuscript print option, and then courses to transition to cursive - but they also recently added in a learn cursive first option. They also now have PDF lessons that you buy so you can print your own lessons. This is what I used. Oh, the cursive is designed so that you can do a cursive print if you want.

For Echo, I put her into the Cursive Step 1 program. It is designed for a K or grade 1 student. I also found some information on their site on doing it with a K student. (I also found information on teaching a left-handed student, how their paper should be turned, etc.) So far she has learned about 5 letters. The Step 1 program has the pages in alphabetical order, with the idea that you just teach them in the order used by your reading program... but Echo is reading already. We are doing it in the order used by Step 2. Oh, btw, did you know that almost all the lower case letters can be made with a combination of 4 simple strokes? So, I must admit that Echo's writing is not very ledgible so far... but then again, she is only 4. When she wants to write something..... well, she does something vaguely resembling print.... and she tends to write from right to left.... is this common for left-handed kids? The only thing I don't like is that the practice sheets have both the capital and lower-case letter on the page, and I want to focus on just the lower case. sigh.

For Delta, he is in Cursive Step 2. You don't have to have done step 1 first, but I do use the Step 1 sheets to introduce the letter, then he does the step 2 sheets for actual writing. He is now about 4 letters away from knowing all the lower-case letters, and I'm impressed. The letters are organized by how easy it is to use. He is at a stage where he has a page to learn 3 or 4 letters at once.... then the next day he has a page of words using those (and previous) letters.... then maybe another day of words.

One other thing I like though is periodically, there is a fluency test..... the student is given 1 minute to write, and then you count how many letters were legible. So, I can see the progress. Also, when he is copying words right now - the words are written at the TOP of the page, smaller than he writes them. This to me is a good step towards writing more independently. I know that in a later lesson, the words he will be writing are just typed above - not in the cursive font. At that point, copywork should be easy to do.

There are later steps in the program - either done by people who are just starting out at an older age, or to further refine a student's writing. They introduce the letters again (at a faster rate) and work with smaller lines, and eventually changing the proportions of some of the letters to create a better look. I plan to use those in future years. There is also a couple of PDF's of master-words used to help you increase fluency in writing.

I have been thrilled with this program! The makers were VERY helpful when I had a few questions, and it is inexpensive. They do have a CD with their font(s) you can buy, but that was out of our budget. That is the one thing I wish I had - the font to make copywork or better practice sheets for Echo (as step 1 doesn't have any words either) - but I know that Delta will soon be writing copywork without having to have it in a cursive model.

A Simple Thing

The other day, I did something really simple. I took a map that I printed a year ago of the world (it is on 6 pieces of paper taped together), and taped it to the wall near our kitchen table. The kids had seen the map before on occasion, we own a globe, and often use Google Earth. Yet, this simple action has been a big hit. The kids have ON THEIR OWN gathered around the map pointing out the various continents, and countries that mean something to them. Some place will be mentioned on the TV, and they will run to point it out on the map (not always correctly, mind you).

I'm sure the novelty will wear off at some point, but in the meantime they are getting a better understanding of where things are in the world. And when the novelty HAS worn off, I can always change it for a Canadian map.......

[I would post the link from where I printed the map.... but the link listed on the map doesn't work anymore. It was somewhere on the National Geographic Site...]

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lest We Forget

In Flanders Fields, by John McCrae

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.


As like every year, we went to a Remembrance Day Ceremony. Delta, at the ripe old age of 7, has been to 8. His first, he was a babe in arms. Likewise, Echo has been to 5 in her 4 years. I have always felt it important for the children to go, so that they will understand in time what freedom costs, and the price that has been paid. Yes, at times I have had to take out a fussy child.... but as I was watching my children behaving quite well and being quiet when they should, and clapping during the March Past (and Delta even marching in his spot), I know it has been worthwhile. What really makes me feel that the message is being heard happened later this evening. We turned on the TV, and the replay of the National Remembrance Day Ceremony was just starting. And instead of playing, Delta sat and watched it.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Scouting Plan

In Canada, I recommend using the BPSA Scouting Program. However, Scouts Canada, or Girl Guides of Canada also have good programs. Note that both BPSA and Scouts Canada can be co-ed.

For each Age, I've put in recommendations of which badges to work on. Note that your leader may want to do things differently! You may also work on more badges. If you don't join at the earliest age, you will want to try to earn the badges mentioned for earlier ages as well.

Although I am listing badges for each age, for Otters (in BPSA) and Cubs (in SC), the main program badges (paws, or stars) each cover a specific type of activity, like outdoor activities or handicrafts, etc. To keep things balanced, you should do a few activities from each main badge every year.

BPSA (see alternatives below)

Age 5 - Otters

Investiture Badge
Safety Badge
Plant a tree and look after it for a year for the Green Paw
A Field Trip should occur to go towards the Service Badge
A few nights of camping to go towards the Camping Badge

Age 6 - Otters (Alternatives - Beavers or Sparks)

Blue Paw (Activity)
Red Paw (Helping)
Tan Paw (Handicraft)
Plant a tree and look after it for a year for the Green Paw if you haven't already
A Field Trip should occur to go towards the Service Badge
A few nights of camping to go towards the Camping Badge

Age 7 - Otters

Green Paw (Outdoors)
Camping Badge
Service Badge
Swimming Otter Badge

Age 8 - Timber Wolves

Investiture Badge
1st Star
Life Skills
- other badges as interested

Age 9 - Timber Wolves

2nd Star
First Aid
- other badges as interested

Age 10 - Timber Wolves

Leaping Wolf
- other badges as interested

Age 11 - Timber Wolves or Explorers

Age 12 - Explorers

Age 13 - Explorers

Age 14 - Explorers

Age 15 - Explorers or Senior Explorers

Age 16 - Senior Explorers

Age 17 - Senior Explorers

Age 18+ - Rovers

Scouts Canada

Age 5 to 7 - Beavers

Beavers has no badges

Age 8 - Cubs

Investiture Badge
- other badges as interested

Age 9 - Cubs

- other badges as interested

Age 10 - Cubs

- other badges as interested

Age 11 - Scouts

Age 12 - Scouts

Age 13 - Scouts

Age 14 - Venturers (or Scouts)

Age 15 -
Venturers (or Scouts)

Age 16 - Venturers

Age 17 - Venturers

Age 18+ - Rovers

Girl Guides of Canada
The Guiding program has changed significantly since I was last involved, and I no longer have up-to-date information about the badges.

Age 5 to 6 - Sparks
Age 7 to 8 - Brownies
Age 9 to 11 - Guides
Age 12 to 14 - Pathfinders
Age 15-18 - Rangers or Cadets or Junior Leaders (Senior Branches)

Otter Hike

We have been having rather warm weather for the season so far this fall, which was nice for our Otter Hike the other weekend. (If you aren't sure what Otters are, it is scouting in Canada for ages 5-7 through the World Federation of Independent Scouting. (not Scouts Canada).

We hiked about 3km on a nearby nature trail. The kids had a great time.... and we even saw 3 deer!

We planned to pick-up litter on the trail to do a trail clean-up.... but there wasn't any litter to pickup.

On another topic - Golf is doing well, and is sleeping through the night. Mind you, she seems to eat ALL morning to make up for it, but it is nice to be able to sleep at night.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

MEP Notes and Errata

I am writing this to make notes of any errata in the MEP program, and to clear any confusion. This page will be updated as items are found.

(Some of these were found by people on the mep yahoo group)


  • A textbook is mentioned - but is not really necessary. You can do the program without buying it.
  • When you print any pages out with measurement questions - make sure that you have Adobe set to NOT stretch/scale to fit the page, or your measurements will be wrong when you measure the items. I set it this way in general - I lose the page numbers and have to handwrite them in - but it saves the problem. (This problem is caused by the pdf's being made for the standard European A4 paper, which is a little longer than the American standard letter sized paper.)
  • Don't worry about converting the pounds and pence questions, just mention that they use different money, but it works the same as dollars and cents.
  • If you are from the states - don't convert all the measurements from metric. Metric is base 10, and very easy. It helps with the concepts of place value in earlier years, and is used in most of the world, and in science. If day-to-day life isn't giving enough american measurement practice, buy a cheap unit from the store on measurements to work on that one item.

One other area that can cause confusion is the numbers within a > or <> where the 1 is little and inside the > sign means ONE more than. If there was a 2 there, it would mean TWO more than. Same with the <> ? the only right answer is 4, whereas 5 > ? has answers of 4,3,2,1,0 (,.....)

Reception Year

  • Lesson 2, Activity 2. Question asks "How many cars did you not color in?" Answer is shown as 2. Answer should be 1.
  • Lesson 39, Activity 2. Question asks "How many animals are there altogether?" Answer is shown as 8. Answer should be 9
  • Lesson 41, Activity 2. Question asks "What is beside the scarf?" Answer is shown as Umbrella and Pine-tree. Answer should be Umbrella and Flower
  • Lesson 43, Activity 2 (Game 7) - Game is impossible to win as printed. As you can move up and down only with even numbers, you need an ODD number of rows (as you don't count the row you start on....) But there are an even number of rows in the grid, so you can never get to the winning row. ALSO, my kids found this game too frustrating, as they would roll a number that to move they had to move away from their goal... So we quit this game early.
  • Lesson 48, Activity 1 - Very last line in the activity - in the Explanation - Says Three and two and five make nine altogether... the five should be four.
  • Lesson 53, Activity 1 - There are 4 triangles, and 5 circles. Partway through it asks "Which are thee more of, triangles or circles?" (Circles) "How many more?" - Two more circles than triangles. Obviously should be ONE more circle than triangles.

Year 1

  • Some of the early practice pages have questions that are never mentioned in the lesson - ?
  • Posters - they were misnumbered - but might be fixed on the website?
  • Note that occasionally you do some practice pages further in the book than you are - these seem to be some writing practice pages.
  • Note that on occasion the student can choose which question out of a few to do.... let them!
  • Lesson 25 Q2. - This is not a typo, this question introduces the concept of negative numbers. Get out the number line with negative numbers and have a go with your child. It is fine if they don't "get it" - but many children do, and it is a nice intro.
  • Lesson 34 Activity 5 - Lesson plan says to Take 12 from 3. Should be take 1 from 3.
  • Lesson 73 Activity 1 - On the lesson plan, it says to write on the BB: 9-3=7.... this is obviously wrong...
  • Lesson 73 Activity 2 - Says the question is "Each plate had 8 pears on it" but the question book says "Each plate has 9 pears on it" - should be 9.
  • Lesson 93, Activity 2 - Says to use calendar from lesson 91 to figure out answers - but questions show year 1999, and calendar on pg 91 is from 2001. Change the 1999's to 2001 to match.
  • Lesson 100 Q3 - Note that you can change the operation sign too, not just the numbers!
  • Lesson 126 Activity 3 - Minor one... title is Pictures of 14, and says to look at the pictures of 14.... should be 15.
  • Lesson 139 Activity 1 - Count down by 4's. Says 17, 13, 8, 5, 1. Should be 17, 13, 9, 5, 1

Year 2

  • Lesson 174 Q5 - We think the answer should be 1 apple = 36 bananas not 9 as in the LP.

Year 3

  • Lesson 10 Activity 7a - (extra activities) - The last numbers in the table are 8 with a 6 under it. Either change the 8 to a 2, or just clear out the 8 and let the student work out that it is a 2. (8 is definitely wrong!)
  • Lesson 54 Activity 4 - Says 89 divided by 0 = 0. Answer should be undefined.

Year 6

  • Lesson 2 Activity 1 - 177 is not a prime number. Should be 277.

Year 8

  • Unit 1, Lesson 5, Critical Path Analysis, Problem #4 - Float time for B might be 17, not 7. Float time for G might be 27, not 20. This is unconfirmed.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Parable of the Wolves

A long time ago there were 2 wolf packs. Each wolf pack was very small, each consisting of one Alpha male, a "mother" wolf, and their cubs.

Although the two packs were fairly far away, the 2 alpha dogs would occasionally get together to talk about how things were going.

At this time, the cubs were very young, and were not skilled at hunting. They played at it a lot, and would always be asking to go. As the Alpha wolves were talking, the one said "The cubs can get pretty annoying. They are always wanting to go hunting with me, but they are so young that I know they can't hunt. Besides, they would slow me down and I wouldn't be able to catch anything as they would scare it all away." The other wolf said "Yes, they can be annoying at times. They do tend to scare game away, so sometimes I do hunt on my own.... but most of the time I take them with my anyway. It is harder, and we catch less. It is tiring, but I think it will be worth it. Each time I try to show them something about hunting.

A couple of years went by before the Alpha wolves met again. The cubs were now young wolves. This time, the first one said "Boy, our young adult wolves are sure lazy! They sit around and won't help me hunt but expect me to do everything! I am getting old, and it is getting harder to hunt, but they expect me to do all the work. On top of it, some are getting into trouble. The other wolf said, "Hm, that is strange. Many of our young adult wolves are getting to be very good hunters. They hunt along side me, and when I was injured a month ago, they took care of everything."


This was a story I learned a number of years ago when I took training in being a Scout Leader. It is one that I took to heart while I was a Scout Leader and later a Guide Leader. Generally when I was in charge of a new Troop, it was hard work. For instance, teaching several patrols how to cook over a camp stove was much harder than having a few adults or leaders cook for everyone. But after a couple of years, the troop would be working well, and the older Scouts or Guides would even be teaching the younger ones. I remember how my Guides (9 to 11 yo girls) would be camping - cooking their own food, chopping wood (not all), fetching water, doing dishes, putting up their own tents, etc - while I mainly helped any minor problems.

I have to admit that this concept was easier to implement with Scouts and Guides (ie, other people's kids) than it is with my own kids.... especially since I am teaching them ALL of life skills and not just a select portion of skills in one stage of life like it was in Scouting/Guiding. I hope I succeed, as I really think it is part of the idea of Charlotte Mason's concept of Habit Training. I hope that at some point I will have my "smooth and easy days".

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Do Kids grow up too Fast?

I've been doing some pondering the last couple of days, for no apparent reason, on whether kids (in general) grow up too fast. It seems like it is a common comment among adults, yet when I look at history, I'm not sure that they really are. In fact, I think that maybe it is the opposite. Kids are being stopped from growing up. I think that what is being complained about really is that kids are being sexualized too fast.

I'm not claiming to be an expert in history. In fact, it was probably one of my worst subjects in school. (I expect to learn a LOT about history while homeschooling using Charlotte Mason methods!)

That said, I look at what a child 140 years ago, or even 100 years ago would be doing. Again, I'm talking generally, as certainly social class, location, etc would make a difference. Farm children would be working hard taking care of livestock, looking after crops, chopping wood, and otherwise doing important work. Girls would be cooking, baking, watching after little ones, as well as looking after chickens, horses etc. Children in a city might be apprenticed, working in a factory, or being a maid or manservant. And this is young children. 6, 7, 8.

When I look at children, I see that there is really one thing they really want. They want to be adults (or at least older than they are.) Unless the desire is stiffled, that is usually shown by wanting to..... WORK. What happens when you are cooking? The 2 year old is right there wanting to cook too. So is the 4 year old. And the 6 year old. If you are sweeping the floor, they want to too.

Of course, what is frustrating to parents is that they mainly seem to want to do it only while they can't.... once they can, and especially if you now require them too - they aren't as interested.... because they now want to mow the lawn or do some other work that they aren't ready for or at least you aren't ready to let them.

This desire to work seems to go away for a lot of kids..... but I think it mostly goes away when we don't let them do it. If we keep saying "No, you can't do that", then eventually they stop asking.

Delta (6) and Echo (4) washed, dried, and put away the dishes tonight. They felt like it was a real treat as it was the first time they ever did them all. Oh, and Foxtrot (2) was busy cleaning up the booster seat, and holding the dustpan while I swept. Yes, the counter got wet, and so did the floor. But they also knew that they were making a difference.

So, what does this have to do with kids being sexualized too fast? Well, here is my theory. Kids are driven to become adults. When we don't let them become adults by having responsibilities in the household - they are going to find other ways. Add the availability and display of sexual content (be that a Bratz doll for a 4 year old, or Cosmo magazines for a 14 yo), and in some cases peer pressure.... and I think you get the results that are so common in this world. Well, it is a theory anyway.

I am not saying to over-burden your children (especially young ones) and not give them time to play and explore. What I am saying is that children NEED to feel like they contribute to the family, that they are important, and that they are big enough to help. That means responsibilities and chores.

Next posting....... my "parable of the wolves"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Year K

See the Updated Version Here

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Kindle Book Links

Another person has been working hard at getting the Ambleside Online booklist setup with links to Kindle-ready books (mostly free.) Many of the links are to Amazon, but there are other sources as well.

Although Maple Hill Academy isn't following AO directly, a lot of the books are used, just in different years.

I really appreciate the work this other homeschooler has done. Even if you don't own a Kindle, you can download a free Kindle for PC program (or one for MAC, or for some mobile devices).

Hope this helps someone!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Link to Book of Centuries Article

I just read a good article on how to do a Book of Centuries, which is different from what most sites mention, yet seems to be more of what CM had in mind...

Although we aren't to that point yet, it looks like what I'd like my students to do, as it seems simpler, yet has more significance for them.

Book of Centuries Revisited

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Just wanted to announce that there is a new baby in our household. Little Golf made her appearance very recently, and weighed 8 lbs 8 oz.

As can be imagined, it has been very busy in our household. The computer has been relegated to the background for a while.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Artist Index

*Updated 07 Dec 10*

As mentioned in other posts, I recommend at first starting picture study by picking artists with pictures you feel might interest your children, and then continuing to other artists work - possibly following the lists from Ambleside Online or other sites. I also provided a few online museum websites to find pictures you can use.

I'm adding in the links to the Ambleside Picture Study groups as a great place to get pictures. Thanks so much for the wonderful people who have provided that resource to us!

Sites in Index

The Year 0 site (an unofficial AO site, great no matter which year you are in)

AO 8.5x11 format A - (1999-2008 rotations)
AO 8.5x11 format B - (2009 + rotations)

(same pictures in other sizes)

Angela Zimmerman's Version of AO selections - an unofficial (I think) site - has all the selections for a year in one pdf. Note that the naming of the files vary, and may have more than one artist in a file, so you do have to look carefully. In index - denoted by (AZ)

Non AO Websites

How to use the index
Here is a list of the artists that currently are on these sites. This is subject to change. This list is alphabetized by the last name.

  • The numbers at the end indicate the official AO sites. They indicate which year it was used, to help you find them on the sites.
  • Year 0 means the unofficial year 0 site.
  • (AZ) means Angela Zimmerman's site.
  • (N1), (N2) etc. means a non-AO site, as listed above.

If an artist has been done more than one year, or is in more than one site, check all locations, as there maybe different pictures and resources, or the quality may vary. If you don't know what the artist's style looks like, I would download the file from Angela's (AZ) site first, as you can quickly see several pictures. (Or you could do a search in google images to see a sampling of thumbnails.) This can help you decide if you do want to do that artist.


  • Robert Bateman [Canadian] - Note - pictures will still be copy protected. Sites given are to give ideas of what his pictures are like. You will probably need to find a book, or just look at the pictures online! (N1)
  • Giotto di Bondone (04/05), (AZ)
  • Alessandro Botticelli (00/01), (08/09), (AZ)
  • Pieter Bruengel the Elder (06/07), (AZ)
  • Michelangelo Buonarroti (05/06), (AZ)

  • Michelangelo Merisi da Caravagio (99/00), (10/11), (AZ 2 files)
  • Mary Cassatt (Year 0), (04/05), (AZ)
  • Paul Cezanne (01/02), (AZ)
  • Frederick Edwin Church (02/03), (AZ)
  • Thomas Cole (02/03), (AZ)
  • John Singleton Copley (02/03), (AZ)
  • Camille Corot (03/04), (AZ)
  • Gustave Courbet (03/04), (AZ)
  • Jasper Francis Cropsey (02/03), (AZ)
  • Michelangelo Merisi da Caravagio (99/00), (AZ)
  • Leonardo da Vinci (07/08), (AZ)
  • Jacques-Louis David (03/04), (AZ)
  • Pieter de Hooch (01/02), (AZ)
  • Edgar Degas (02/03), (AZ)
  • Andrea del Verrocchio (00/01), (AZ)
  • Eugene Delacroix (00/01), (10/11 *not there as of 7 Dec 2010, but should be there soon), (AZ - 2 files)
  • Giotto di Bondone (04/05), (AZ)
  • Asher B. Durand (02/03), (AZ)
  • Albrecht Durer (99/00), (10/11), (AZ - 2 files)
  • Jan van Eych (07/08), (AZ)
  • Jean-Honore Fragonard (00/01), (AZ)
  • Caspar David Friedrich (08/09), (AZ)

  • Thomas Gainsborough (Year 0)
  • Paul Gauguin (01/02), (AZ)
  • Theodore Gericault (00/01), (AZ)
  • Vincent van Gogh (08/09), (AZ)
  • Winslow Homer (04/05), (AZ)
  • Pieter de Hooch (01/02), (AZ)
  • Sir Edwin Henry Landseer (Year 0), (AZ) [the AZ prints were not an AO selection]
  • Sir Thomas Lawrence (Year 0)
  • Edouard Manet (02/03), (AZ)
  • Henri Matisse (AZ) [not an AO selection]
  • Mauve (AZ) [not an AO selection]
  • Claude Monet (Year 0), (09/10), (AZ)
  • Pierre-Auguste Renoir (Year 0), (01/02), (AZ)
  • Rembrandt van Rijn (07/08), (AZ)
  • Auguste Rodin (01/02), (AZ)
  • Peter Paul Rubens (03/04), (AZ)
  • Jacob van Ruisdael (01/02), (AZ)
  • Raphael Sanzio (09/10), (AZ)
  • John Singer Sargent (09/10), (AZ)
  • Georges Seurat (01/02), (AZ)
  • Gilbert Stuart (02/03), (AZ)
  • Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) (06/07), (AZ)
  • Joseph Mallord William Turner (06/07), (AZ)
  • Diego Valazquez (03/04), (AZ)
  • Jan van Eych (07/08), (AZ)
  • Vincent van Gogh (08/09), (AZ)
  • Rembrandt van Rijn (07/08), (AZ)
  • Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) (06/07), (AZ)
  • Jan Vermeer (05/06), (AZ)
  • Andrea del Verrocchio (00/01), (AZ)
  • Leonardo da Vinci (07/08), (AZ)
  • John William Waterhouse (05/06), (AZ)
  • Jean-Antoine Watteau (00/01), (AZ)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Happy Canada Day

Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Canada Day!
Sorry I haven't posted much - "Golf" is overdue, so I've been fairly busy waiting on this little baby.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Presentation Evening

My good friend Kate, from Milestones Academy, recommends that families have a Homeschool Presentation Evening near the end of the school year.

The idea is that this gives the opportunity for people interested in your homeschooling journey can come and see what type of interesting things you have done. A part of this is an opportunity for the children to play their instruments or sing or recite as well as having displays.

I think this is a wonderful idea, but haven't been up to doing it with the baby coming. Also, a lot of our work this year has been oral, so there isn't a lot of nice notebooks or maps or things to show. I'm hoping next year to find a few homeschooling families to have a joint presentation evening.

However, I have filmed a violin song from each of my children. I filmed one from Delta last year, and it is interesting and exciting to see the progress! I recommend anyone doing any musical instrument to make a point of doing a filming each year specifically for this.

The first film is Echo, playing Lightly Row. This is her first official year doing Suzuki Violin. She can play the Twinkles, and is working on learning Song of the Wind.


This video is Delta playing Perpetual Motion. This was his 3rd year doing Suzuki Violin. He knows how to play Allegreto and Andantino which is past Perpetual Motion, but doesn't feel confident enough for filming of them. He has just started learning Etude.


And this is a video of Delta from a year ago, playing Lightly Row. I am amazed with the amount of progress he has made in a year!


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Canadian History Plan

Please see the new version
This version has been kept for those that would prefer to use it.

It has taken quite a while, but I have a basic plan for Canadian History for the first few years of homeschool

Year 1 - A Pioneer Story by Barbara Greenwood. (also called A Pioneer Sampler???)

Although not in a chronological order, this is a nice gentle book to ease the student into thinking about the past, without worrying about any real historical details.


A Child's History of the Life of Christopher Columbus by Josephine Pollard

Year 2

- Great Canadian Lives: Portraits in Heroism to 1867
Available online here - not sure how with copyright

Basically covering from before 1600 to 1713 (A New Found Land, Settling the Land, and about 1/2 of The Great Days of New France)
(stop at "The Colony at Peace" - this gives about 60 portraits to do over the 36 weeks of school)

- My First History of Canada - by Donalda Dickie & Rudiger Krause First 9 Chapters. (Same time period as above)

Year 3 - continuing in Great Canadian Lives and My First History of Canada

Basically covering from 1713 to 1830 (1/2 of The Great Days of New France, After the Conquest, 1/2 of Danger on All Sides)
(start at "The Colony at Peace" and stop at "Building the Future" - this gives about 60 portraits to do over the 36 weeks of school)

Ch 10-13 of My First History

Year 4 - continuing in Great Canadian Lives and My First History of Canada

Basically covering from about 1830 to 1867 (1/2 of Danger on All Sides, From Sea to Sea)
(start at "Building the Future" and go to the end of the book - this gives about 60 portraits to do over the 36 weeks of school)

Ch 14-15 of My First History

Additional Reading:

The Last Safe House: A story of the Underground Railroad - Barbara Greenwood - add during the North to Freedom section.

Year 5 - My First History of Canada - other resources unknown at this point

Ch 16-19 + about 1/2 of 20

Covering from 1867 to about 1939.
Topics include, but not limited to:


Gold Rush

Halifax Explosion

Famous 5 (women's rights)


Additional Reading:
Gold Rush Fever: a story of the Klondike, 1898 - Barbara Greenwood
Factory Girl - Barbara Greenwood

Year 6 - My First History of Canada - other resources unknown at this point

2nd half of Chapter 20, chapter 21

Covering from 1939 to present
Topics include, but not limited to:

Japanese Internment
Gov't help - UI, CPP, Family Allowance, Medicare
FLQ Crisis
Quebec Nationalism / Referendums
Canada Act


Great Canadian Lives is unfortunately out of print, and can be expensive. Because it is used for 3 years, it may be worthwhile to purchase, especially if you have multiple children that will be using it. I will be using the library until I can find an inexpensive copy (our library has several copies). Update - there is a copy online here but as copyright is still in effect, not sure how they have it there....

However, if you can not find this resource in a manner that fits your budget, please feel free to replace it with seperate biographies of a few people within the various periods of history! (If you have any recommendations, please share!)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Question for you!

I was wondering if people wanted me to change the schedules for Year 1 for the new changes, and make schedules for Year 2 and the 2nd Rotations?

I know that schedules can be helpful, but I have to admit that I am not keeping to a schedule like I did at the start.... I found that I was "behind" in some areas, "ahead" in a few, and that it just made things more difficult.

I have been using the Organizer at Simply Charlotte Mason, and just review where we are about every 6 weeks to decide if I need to do some subjects more often, or make other changes.

However, making a schedule wouldn't be a big deal either, if it would help someone.

If I don't make up the schedules, I would setup some notes for each subject on what chapters to cover (if not all of a book), and about how much would need to be done each week.

What would help other people???

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Year 2 Modifications

This is the Modifications for the Year 2 booklist, for children that did the older version of the Year 1 booklist.

(modified because the student read Burgess Bird Book in year 1, and didn't read the Christian Nature Reader Book 1)

* Handbook of Nature Study - Anna Botsford Comstock - used for several years. 1911 version available here
* Wild Days - Karen Radcliffe
* Pocket Full of Pinecones - Karen Andereola

(1) Christian Nature Reader Book 1 by Julia Write
(2) Christian Nature Reader Book 2 by Julia Write
(3) Christian Nature Reader Book 3 by Julia Write
(tbd) Pagoo - Holling C. Holling

Family Science Rotation


remove Charlotte's Web, replace with The Boxcar Children

Canadian History

add in
A Child's History of the Life of Christopher Columbus by Josephine Pollard
if you can.

Year 0 Philosophy

Here is my Year 0 philosophy - written in words so much better than I could ever have written (and believe me, I have tried!)

Are Speed and Ease Our Only Goals

Year 2 Booklist

[updated 25 July 2010]

This is the Year 2 booklist for Maple Hill Academy. Thanks to all the sites and curriculums that I have used as a base to form this list!

Term numbers will be denoted by the number before the title as such: (1) Bookname. If there are no term numbers, the book is used for the entire term. (or has not been determined)
* denotes the book/resource is for the parent (at least mostly)

(note - links need to be checked...)
Family Rotation using Penny Gardner Storied Scriptures
Scripture Memorizations
Reading from Church Magazines
Singing Primary Song (Select 1 per month. Can also sing in Foreign Language or ASL)

Mathmatics Enhancement Programme - Year 2 (or appropriate level for your child)

Reading Instruction (as needed)
see Year 1 list, and how to articles

If your child does not yet read fluently, be patient. Read books aloud as needed, and do buddy reading (where you each take a turn).


* Handbook of Nature Study - Anna Botsford Comstock - used for several years. 1911 version available here
* Wild Days - Karen Radcliffe
* Pocket Full of Pinecones - Karen Andereola

(1,2) Burgess Bird Book for Children (download available...)
extra resource -
(3) Pagoo - Holling C. Holling
Christian Nature Reader Books 2 & 3 by Julia Write
Family Science Rotation

History - Family
Learn about Grandparents, events they remember, places they lived, etc.
(if a Grandparent is not available due to death or other reason, the parent should share any rememberances, pictures, etc)

History - Canada
Great Canadian LIves: Portraits in Heroism to 1867 (Chapters 1-3) - Karen Ford, Janet MacLean, Barry Wansbrough
(stop at "The Colony at Peace" - this gives about 60 portraits to do over the 36 weeks of school)

My First History of Canada - By Donalda Dickie & Rudiger Krause (Chapters 1-9)
(Note, read the 2 history books together, so you are covering the same time periods together)...

History - World
(1) Thirty More Famous Stories Retold - James Baldwin (available as download)
(2,3) Fifty Famous People - James Baldwin
Family World History Rotation

General Map Reading skills using map of our city (if child hasn't done it yet)
(1,2)Tree in the Trail - Holling C. Holling
(2,3)Seabird - Holling C. Holling
Locate History and (if appropriate) Literature locations on Map
Family Geography Rotation

Cursive First or similar program if child hasn't learned cursive

Simple Copywork - select short passages from current literature books or scriptures. At least a few should be chosen by the student.

(Read one poem a day - memorize 1 each term)

Note that these choices are also used in Year 1. Pick poems that were missed the first time, or favourites - or see alternative option below, or select your own choice of poems.

(1) A children's Garden of Verses - by Robert Louis Stevenson
(2) Now We are Six - A.A. Milne
(2) When we were very young - A.A. Milne
(3) Oxford Book of Children's Verse [if Available - very expensive] or other poem book


To Be Determined

Read Aloud Literature
Pilgrim's Progress: Book 1, Christian's Journey (audio book available)
Any books under Literature that the student will not be able to read on their own

(Suggested to be read by student alone and narrated)
Beginning or Slower readers, choose fewer of selections and read less per day - do the others as read-alouds. Buddy Reading is also a possibility (where you take turns reading)

(1) Understood Betsy - Dorothy Canfield Fisher (download available)
(1) Five Little Peppers and How They Grew - Margaret Sidney (download available)
(1) Charlotte's Web - E. B. White
(2) The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (download available)
(2) A Bear Called Paddington - Michael Bond
(2) The Story of Doctor Doolittle - Hugh Lofting (download available)
(3) Stewart Little - E. B. White
(3) Levi's Life - Kathryn Louis
(3) Just David OR Pollyanna - Eleanor Porter (download available)

Canadian Literature
Canadian Wonder Tales - Macmilliam

Additional Literature
(No narrations are required - can be family reads, or read during spare time.)

Pied Piper of Hamlin - Robert Browning (download available)
Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales (download available)
Farmer Boy - Laura Ingalls Wilder
Homer Price - Robert McCloskey
Sarah Plain and Tall - Patricia MacLachlan
Skylark - Patricia MacLachlan
Little House on the Prairie - Laura Ingalls Wilder

Family Rotation
(using Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare - Edith Nesbit)


To Be Determined

Basic Observation Drawing - some resources

Picture Study
some info
Family Rotation

will vary due to interest... suggestions (for both boys and girls)

Any from Year 1 (continue any that interest the student!)
Sew on Buttons, Simple Hemming
Simple Needlework
Woodworking (free days at many renovation stores)

(read how-to) [note this How-to is on Milestones Academy]
Recommended - Violin, Piano OR Recorder (inexpensive) OR other similar instruments

Suzuki Violin [we do this with an instructor ]

Suzuki Piano - taught by parent (combined with the following)
continue My First Piano Adventures, or if finished, move to Piano Adventures, appropriate level

if just starting Piano
use Primer Level of Piano Adventures (Note, you will need the 4 main books!) Use the Online Teacher's Guide!

option for a very inexpensive music alternative, or for the parent that is too uncomfortable trying to teach something like Piano keeping just a few lessons ahead...

Nine-Note Recorder method [note, we haven't tried this yet]
You can do the "Beyond Nine-Note" book too if you get to this point.


Similar instruction in another instrument. (ie, Suzuki Cello)

Foreign Language - German (make similar choices for your language)
If just starting, see Year 1...
(why German)

First Step auf Deutsch (Note, this is available in French and Spanish too) - continue where you left off, or review
Find 3 German story books with Audio Tapes
Transcribe Sentences from the German books
Translate small passages into English orally
Find more German songs online
Optional: Practice Primary song of the month in German

Polite Moments - Gary Maldaner (selected sections)

(extra badges may be worked on as desired)

complete any badges not finished in Year 1
Otters - Green Paw (Nature) -note, plant your tree right away if you didn't in year 1!
Otters - Service Badge
Otters - Swimming Otter Badge (kind of a graduation badge)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Blogger Annoyance

On some of my posts, in compose mode, I have indicated a new paragraph, but when posted, it isn't putting the spaces in for the paragraph. I don't know how to fix this (I have even tried to fix the HTML....)

There are similar problems with the font. Occasionally something will be in a different font size from what I see.

I'm sorry if this is distracting!

Reading Instruction

You may want to start by reading my thoughts on Reading Instruction.

Reading Instruction before Year 1 should be very gentle, and should not intrude on outdoor time and free play. It should only be done when the student is in a good mood and wants to play the reading games involved. Lessons should be very short, and stopped BEFORE the child wants to stop. And they are optional.

Year 0
Use lessons from "Teach your Baby to Read". If your child is at least 2 years old, you can also use lessons from "Teach your Child to Read in 10 minutes a day". I recommend using both by that point.

Year K/1
Combine Phonics Instruction with Sight Reading. Charlotte Mason had reading instruction by doing some phonics work one day, and the other day working on sight reading with words chosen from a specific story. The words should be interesting to the child, and with different lengths and shapes. After the words are known out of order - the child would read a page or stanza of the story.

I recommend using flashcards in the style of "Teach your Baby to Read", and phonics instruction from "Teach your Child to Read in 10 minutes a day". Create books for your child that are specific to them - probably featuring them. As an alternative for phonics instruction, this site has a free resource.

You can also start with the Dick and Jane Primers and Readers. The Primers have been reprinted in a treasury. The Readers are only available if you happen to find a used copy. If you can't find them, move to the Treadwell/Free readers.

In Year 1, starting around term 2 or 3, if your child is ready they can start to read 1 book from the readings. (I have suggested books in the Year 1 information.)

Good Readers for more practice
Bob's Books
Little Bear series
Frog and Toad series
Flicka, Ricka, Dicka series
Snipp, Snapp, Snurr series
Billy and Blaze series

Later Years
If your child is not reading fluently yet, don't panic. Don't let your student know that they are not doing as well as you would like - you don't want them to get discouraged. Continue work with the resources I've mentioned in the earlier years at your childs speed. Do "Buddy Reading" - where you read one page, paragraph, or even sentence, and then the student reads one. Use quality audio recordings of some of the readings, with the student following along in their book.


Not Free
"Teach your Child to Read in 10 minutes a Day" - Sidney Ledson
"Teach your Baby to Read" - Glenn Doman