Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Blog Wrap-UP

This year of blogging looked a lot different than in years past. Even with that I managed to post 19 Curriculum Reviews and 2 Author Interviews, along with 3 Series- The Virtual Curriculum Fair, the Working Woman's Guide to Homeschooling and 5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials, as well as severeal posts on Classical Conversations. Please let me know if you have ideas for other series or posts, questions about homeschooling, memory work or why to memorize a timeline!

Virtual Curriculum Fair
Godly Patterns in Homeschooling- How to teach Math, Logic and Patterns
Word Nerd Love - Language Arts
World Exploration- Social & Physical Sciences
You Gotta Have Art- Teaching Beauty

Golden Grasses: 20 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Homeschooling
By the Numbers
5 Ways Classical Conversations Rocks
5 Simple Steps to Memorize Effectively
7 Reasons You Should Blog if You Homeschool
20 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Homeschooling

Golden Grasses 5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials- Program #homeschool #education #goldengrasses
5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials 
Get With the Program

Golden Grasses Working Woman's Guide to Homeshcooling #workingwomen #homeschooling #beextraordinary #workhomeschool
The Working Woman's Guide to Homeschooling
Your Compelling Reason
Just 4 Things
Be Extraordinary
Flow, Grow and Tools
October 2014Golden Grasses: Classical Conversations during the rest of the week #classicaled #homeschool #classicalconversations
Classical Conversations
CC During the Rest of the Week
CC During the Rest of the Week- What's Mom Got to do with it? 
CC Review Games
5 Ways CC Foundations Rocks
Scientific Discovery
CC Community Day
Copywork as a Tool

Golden Grasses: A Midsummer's Night Dream #classicaleducation #Shakespeare #homeschool #theater
Joeseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat
Midsummer's Night Dream

How to Create a Unit Study
Virtual Field Trips List

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Why Memorize a Time Line

Four years ago I wrote How to Memorize a Timeline. This has been one of my best read blog posts, which makes me think that there is real interest in HOW to memorize a timeline. Love that.

Recently, however, I ran into someone decrying the use of memorizing a timeline, because, they argued, it would make history dry and boring. It would detract from the learning they hoped to depart.  They put forth the belief that the student must find interest in a subject area to learn it and that we should not bore them with facts or dates or memory work of any kind. They equate, somehow, that enjoying a subject equals learning a subject.

But look, no matter how much I enjoy gymnastics, I can not do a flip or a handstand, or some days even walk, without falling down. We all know that the enjoyment of a thing does not equal being educated about a doing a thing. Imho, this is a dangerous educational philosophy and a dangerous theological assumption.

I, and others, equate memory work with real learning and believe that real learning and the satisfaction of the hard work required to experience real learning bring enjoyment at such a deep level that it will cause the students to hunger for the fruits of it as often as possible. Hard work, which long term memory acquisition is, allows a person to own the material, and to know it in such a way that they can manipulate it, own it, toy with it, make connections, think strategically, form conclusions, teach and be a powerful influence because of it.

I believe this to be true: 
Memoria est mater studiorum 
Or, in the vernacular: 
Memory is the Mother of Learning

If you don't have something memorized, you really don't KNOW it. You might be familiar with it, but you don't own the knowledge. If I go in for heart surgery, I sure don't want my surgeon to be familiar with the cardiac system. I want them to have it memorized and know what it's capable of doing and know what they are capable of doing. I count on their long term memory to carry them through a complicated process and keep me alive. Would you really trust your heart surgeon with your heart as long as they knew "where to look it up" or which books to consult mid-surgery?

Back to memorizing a timeline. Why do it?

  1. A timeline is like a map. It orients you to time and place. It is not a boring black line on a piece of paper with a few  illegible names scrawled along it occasionally - a bleak picture indeed. A timeline is a living, breathing thread of humanity that runs the course of History. A time line is prisma- color, full of places and people that have their own languages, smells, tastes, beliefs, foods, atmosphere, life span, education and level of comfort. 
  2. Memorizing a timeline is foundational to understanding history, geography, politics, economics and so much more! A timeline is to history as maps are to geography. Your window to understanding expands with the more you know about the people and places on a timeline. 
  3. Memorizing a timeline allows us to avoid one of the most egregious errors of our post- modern time, and that is the error of judging the past and people of it by our culture, standards and understandings. Memorizing a timeline allows us to immediately place people, dates, maps in context.  When I say Persia to my 20 year old and the 14 yo asks where we mean, the 20 year old goes to Iran and starts drawing boundary lines around what used to be Persia, depending on the time period I am talking about. When I say the Austria-Hungarian Empire to my kids, they automatically think pre- WWII and a big chunk of Europe. They have a basic understanding already in place, which allows them to have a more experienced understanding. Without the basics, they can't advance. They are forever stymied.
  4. Memorizing a timeline allows us to gain a deeper and broader understanding of Christ and His place and purpose in History. There is not time without Christ, nor is there purpose without Him. To truly understand Church History and the importance of Salvation in it, we must understand people and places throughout the world who are devoid of it and the redemptive power of Christ to ourselves and others at our time and place in History. Christ and His Redemptive love is the one thing that transcends time, place and people groups. 
Do you memorize timelines? Why or why not? 

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Monday, December 29, 2014

7 Reasons Why You Should Blog if You Homeschool

I had a couple of goals for blogging when I started back in 08'- to write more regularly, to be part of a broader homeschooling community than I have locally, and to have a creative outlet that was less messy and expensive than scrapbooking. What I didn't expect was exactly how many opportunities and challenges would be available to me through the world of blogging. If you are looking for a fun new challenge for the New Year, why not add blogging to your list? Below are 7 compelling reasons to do so:

1- Reflection
Blogging, like scrapbooking, gives you the opportunity to reflect on what you've done. Hindsight is often 20:20 and when you write a weekly report, or a book review or a post about your summer vacation it allows you to think deeply and carefully about what you've done, what you haven't done and what you hope to get done.
In the same vein, blogging helps one express their reflection in varied ways. I wrote a book review, very tongue in cheek, a bit too cavalier, and the author commented. This author is a world class, best seller. How on earth did she find my little review? But she did, and it was not that kind, even if it was funny. I was focused too much on getting a laugh and not enough on the fact that there was a person who had put their heart and soul into something. I apologized and changed the review but it caused me to reflect, once again, the power of words, and the power of kindness.

2- Visual Memory
 Writing, and therefore blogging, about a book, movie or curriculum  forces me to think about the content in more robust and dynamic ways . Rather than a simple descriptive re-telling of a book, movie or curriculum, I want my blog to examine themes, content, quality and value. My readers might not agree with me, but I want to at least add to the discussion and prompt people to think.

 My original goal of being part of a homeshooling community beyond where I live has been met and exceeded by far. I have met homeschoolers and bloggers on every continent who have the same victories, struggles, hopes and dreams as me.
I have participated in amazing blogging challenges and communities (stay tuned for the 5th annual Virtual Curriculum Fair-taking place every Monday this January) that have broadened any opportunity I could have found in my small corner of the world.
I have been able to chat with curriculum writers and suppliers and have the privilege of reviewing some world class products, all because I blog.

4- Create Personal Momentum
 When I write a weekly report, if forces me to realize what we've done- what we haven't done, what we could have done. I see the holes in our schedule, the places where I am far too draconian and pitfalls to be avoided. I'm challenged by blog challenges, by weekly reports, by Christmas decoration link-ups. I see places and opportunities, I rub shoulders with others doing more, and I am encouraged to go beyond what I think I can do. There is a synergy that comes from blogging.
 Is it that important that I blog about our Christmas decorations? Not really. What is important is that we came together as a family, we laughed, sang Christmas carols, talked about memories and favorite traditions, shared moments together. I'm often encouraged by others, and hope that my blog/our life can encourage others to live life together, instead of in front of  a screen, that families are challenged to talk about their faith, the books they've read and that education becomes an intentional transmission of culture instead of a haphazard one.

5-Peer Review
If you've homeschooled for any length of time, perhaps you've discovered that it can be a lonely path. And yet, the world wide web allows us rub shoulders with others traveling the same narrow path. In other words, even homeschoolers have peers.
Sometimes this will garner you criticism, trolls or snarky comments. Learning to deal with troublemakers is all part of the show and a skill set unto itself.
But more often than not, you will discover your tribe on-line and it is seriously gratifying when that happens. The friends I have made, the amazing, touching, wonderful comments that this blog has given someone hope, caused them to laugh or call their sister have made my day. Comments that folks are praying for us, are encouraged by our testimony, that they've been challenged to re-think their expectations, or even just their math curriculum encourage our entire family.

6- Raise the Bar
Hitting the "publish" button is immediate. Spell check is a part of my life- though it is not fool proof, grammatical construction is really a fantastic tool and synonym finder is my friend. Having the potential of a world wide audience has raised the bar, as it should.

7-Creative Expression
If you are a closet artist, like myself, blogging is a fantastic and cost effective form of expression. Photography, writing, graphic design, vlogging and more- there is plenty of room to grow and expand. There are plenty of free tools on-line,  making it actually cost effective for anyone with access to a computer and a creative turn of mind.

If you blog, what are some of your reasons for doing so? If not, jump in, the water's just fine!

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!'

Sunday, December 28, 2014

New Goals New Year

To say that this year has blown by is a serious understatement. This time last year I was kind of drowning in computer training on a slow-as-molasses, decrepit, overly-loved laptop and kind of wondering if I was really up to working in this brave new world of computer everything. Last spring went by in a blur. Feeche took over my co-op class, I resigned from the TOS Crew, quite doing reviews, stopped reading, did nothing on the house or DIY, threw homeschooling at the kids and made some difficult decisions about not re-joining the co-op we've been part of for 5 + years. 

Enter a new season. 
This past fall we started an in-home class day, joined the local Classical Conversations, got much more familiar with work (even though we've changed computer systems at least twice), re-applied to the CREW (Hi Crewbies! I missed you!), did a ton of different trainings, got my head above water
taught writing and poetry, which I L.O.V.E.
It seems I've finally hit a spot where I can think about next things, instead of just what I haven't gotten to of late. 
Love that! 
And so, goals for the New Year.
(You can read my basic goals up top)

Here's a chance for you to set some of your own goals: 
Come back and link up so we can stop by and read yours!

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

What's Ahead for 2nd Semester

I'll be posting a year end wrap up soon but we're already scheduling January so first up is a "What's Ahead."

Beginning next week we'll begin our One Act Play Practices. This is the 9th year we've participated this local festival for area homeschool high-schoolers. I have a great play picked out, a terrific bevy of kids and am already thinking costumes, including how to dress some kid-sized bees. We'll do two a week practices all through January, throwing in tubing and ballroom dancing after as many practices as possible.

Also, next week, a small group of kiddos from our local CC group is going to get together for Memory Master review. Flower has been listening to the CD's, but beginning next week we'll get really serious about a schedule of review and add in weeks 21-24 as suggested over at Haf-a-Hundred Acre Woods (which has a great weekly cycle link-up for those interested).

Another Bridgeway Student Learning Lab session begins next week, too - Flower is going to take a Computer class and Cub is going to take Myths and Legends. Frankly, he is a myth and legend aficionado already, but it's his reward for sticking with Chem Lab. I'm hoping Flower learns enough to teach me a thing or two. Like all of the kids we've graduated so far, he'll have about double the English and history credits required to graduate, along with a plethora of theater and Shakespeare. Did I mention that I love that?!

Cub is also going to be taking some classes at Schoolhouse Teachers- we're focusing on credit worthy subjects, of which there are many. I am loving the new organization of the site, making each class easy to understand, at a glance.

I would like to fit in TeenPact this year for Cub and the 1-day Camp for Flower. If the moons align and they get there, you'll get a full report!

Classical Conversations starts mid-January and our weekly class day begins at the end of the month.
We're making some small changes- like dropping an outsourced class and adding in some music and math tutoring. We are done with our Cultural Studies class (which was amazing!) in our co-op and are going to do art (water color- which also promises to be amazing!)

Feeche continues college full-time and has a serious academic load this spring. FAFSA forms are getting filled out coming and going and by next year we hope to have a couple of kids in college ALL at once.

I'm working and learning yet another CRM, along with me doing reviews for the Schoolhouse Review Crew, Tutoring Foundations, teaching Grammar of Poetry and adding in some speaking for CC- what is classical ed and how CC can be part of making it happen in your house. I slipped and fell on water in a store and my damaged knee and tendons again, which is not in keeping with my busy schedule!

Dr. Dh is the hard working backbone of the program and continues to do re-build projects along with his day-job and Study Group. We now how towel racks and hooks in the bathrooms- woot! They are shiny and beautiful!

Air Hockey is going to be our sport of choice, I can see it now. We are competitive Germans at our house, which means it's an active, break a sweat kind of game. Total fun! @Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas @Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

5 Ways Classical Conversations Foundations Rocks

This is our first year back in a CC Community after a 7 year break. Ah, it's good to be back! CC Community can't be beat for a couple of simple, profound reasons:

1. The Tutor Tutors, the Parents Teach
Foundational to a CC Community is parental involvement. My role as a Tutor in the program is NOT, I repeat NOT, to teach the kids. I am teaching the parents and drilling memory work as we go. What am I teaching the parents? How to train their kids brains to retain, mnemonics, tips and tricks of the teaching trade. As a Tutor my goal is to fill the parents toolbox to overflowing so that they can teach their kids despite and because of their learning styles gifts, abilities, challenges.

2. Tools for the Memory Work Toolbox
We drill and drill and drill some more- the old kill and drill routine. But that drill is not boring. It can take the form of movement, call and response, copy work, kids leading, singing, etc. 7 subject areas recited 7 times in a 1/2 hour. There is no time to be bored! At home the kids drill memory work in the same way. oOur school doesn't look that text-booky but my kids sure learn a whole lotta stuff every year.

Kids ages 4-12 get over the #1 fear in life- that of public speaking- by getting up once  a week and  doing a 2-3 minute presentation. For the younger kids it's more show and tell. For my Master's class we talk about what makes a good presentation, what makes a good listener, applaud effort, ask questions and stand amazed at how much 2-3 minutes a week of concentrated effort contributes to self confidence and personal presentation.

4. The Scientific Method
The Scientific Method is presented to the kids over and over again. They realize that good science is re-producible and that solid science is not the same thing as a scientist demanding that their opinion be listened too. They begin to understand the importance of good note-taking (or picture drawing, depending on how old the kiddo is), they realize that good questions are a valuable piece of the inquisitive, creative life; they see that logic is useful and that directions -good or bad- can change everything. They get that good science can take place in their bedrooms, kitchens and million dollar labs. When kids show up during presentation time with science experiments they've created and implemented on their own at home, you know something profound and important has taken place.

5.  Art for Everybody! 
Foundations overviews art technique, music theory, great artists and the orchestra. What's so great about that? Kids are naturally creative. At the same time that they are memorizing history and math facts, Bible, Latin and grammar - filling their brains with non-negotiables- they are learning methods and techniques that allow them express their knowledge and take part in the great conversation of others who have expressed their knowledge, faith, love, hopes and dreams through the ages via art and music. Foundations gives our kids the grammar of artistic expression.

Of course there are other reasons to participate in Foundations, like MapBlobbing, Sack lunches and playtime in the gym, Human Tic-Tac-Toe, Mental Math, Speed Zap and much more, but you'll just have to visit your nearest community to find all that out for yourself!

 @Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Michael Jr Comedy Christian Church Comedian


@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

We laughed. We cried. It Was One of Those Weeks!

This week heralded the semester's end of both o our co-ops, both Classical Conversations and our small in-home co-op. Classical Conversations was a blast and went fast. We put Our Bodies together, went over week 12, played human Tic-Tac-Toe and then focused on Math games for review. I was gifted with wonderful presents by my sweet kiddos and their amazing parents. We are loving CC (come back tomorrow for 5 Ways CC's Foundations Rocks!)

Our co-op at home- all of the kids wrote a poem- trochaic or iambic or something with a rhyme scheme- stop by for more, because I'll be posting them! Everyone brought sumptuous snacks along with homemade presents for a gift exchange. The kids (ages 4-15) all drew a name and then had to create an item for their secret pal. It was...sweet, endearing, touching, precious. The kids were creative, generous and grateful. Then lunch, more food, playing, talking, laughing. I love this group. We all love this group and just stand amazed at how much the kids enjoy being together and how much we love being together. The kids are learning, but its almost a side benefit. And everyone loves my house. I love people who love my house. Yes, I am that shallow.

That is the sound of my finishing a massive project at work. What a week. The age of computer everything- oy vey. My grits are cooked but after a 15 hour day today to knock that baby out, I can focus on my actual job again.  (And yes, there are still some pesky little details to wrap up, but the bulk of it is ovah!)

Image result for tim hawkins image
Two words: Tim Hawkins. We laughed. We cried. O.k., we laughed until we cried. He is funny and weird. Our kind of people. Today we streamed Tim's YouTubes all day long as we sat across the living room from each other, working on computers. Laptops are wonderful things. So are Christian comedians.
The kids have been speed reading Wings of Fire. Speed reading, outloud, to each other. 3 books in a matter of days. Thank goodness for downloadable kindle books. A $5.38 download brought my kids so much joy you would have thought they won the lottery.


Map blobbing has been one of this falls hidden gems. Flower drew the U.S. map, above, complete with every state from memory today - as in NO Looking at or referencing  a map. Not bad for an 11 year old! Love that! Hats off to Classical Conversations. Kabam!

Have I mentioned I'm back on the Crew? As in the Schoolhouse Review Crew! Woop! Love my fellow Crewbies!! Stay tuned for more great reviews and awesome products coming soon!

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Carnival of Homeschooling- The Christmas Edition

Welcome to the 465th Carnival of Homeschooling! 
Carnival of Homeschooling

My sincere apologies for being a day late with the Carnival of Homeschooling- it's been one of those weeks that has tried my patience, tested my tenacity and caused me to cry, pray and laugh (albiet, at times, hysterically!). Oh, the joys of multi-tasking, working from home, technology and homeschooling.
Christmas on line - Christmas baubles

At the end of the day, though, despite the frustrations and the many, never ending tasks, I hope you can say, even if your day or week has gone like mine, that homeschooling is worth it. I hope that you are finding joy and fulfillment in these years of investing in a person.
Christmas Baubles Line Up
During the holidays, or really any season, it helps if we can just  R is Roll with It. Kym writes about how to make it happen, despite the season or your schedule!

Raventhreads shares at Homeschool Essentials: Praying for Peace and Love

Mom's Toolkit for a Peaceful Home

Taunna shares a great printable as well as a Toolkit for a peaceful home:

HomeMaking Organized brings us a terrific, chock-full post about creating A Schedule for Children at Home
Colorful deluxe glassblown baubles for Christmas and other celebrations
Years of homeschooling has given Henry Cate a unique perspective. Go here to read his advice to a New Homeschooler

Books are intergral to homeschooling! Susan R shares How to Create a Home Library 
Christmas Nutcracker Drummer

Those of us who raise kids or teach know how exciting a break-through can be for our kids! Christine shares Reading Progress 
Christmas in the country

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission to the next Carnival. And, as always, thank-you to the Cates at Why Homeschool for keeping the Carnival going.

Entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christmas all through the House

I promised a whole post Christmas decor and here it is. Above is the outside of the house. Yes, looks like a frosted 3- tiered cake. Have I ever mentioned that we live in a 4-story 4x4 farmhouse?

The big Christmas Tree in the living room. Almost every window has a garland over it. The one in the living room has little snowmen perched in it. 

Another view of the tree.

This is one of my favorite spots in the house. It's an odd little corner in the kitchen, with tons of light, that we've turned into a little coffee/tea corner.

Here's the garland above the glass block window. I have a paper garland beneath that
 says, "Peace," "Merry Christmas" and "Joy." I found the printable here. 

An alpine tree, decorated in a copper, cowboy theme. 
Found the metal "Believe" sign on clearance somewhere. 

Moms' tea cup collection surrounded by jingle bells and Father Christmas, 
stitched 20 years ago by my dear friend, Michele. 

On the buffet.
I stitched the creche in NM.

This picture does not do the cute-factor justice here. This is the periwinkle blue off-the kitchen bathroom. The window is from one of the decrepit sheds, embellished with burlap, copper bells, berries and greenery. 

Christmas books, with a "Calvin" tucked in, sitting on our antique school desk turned end table. 

Another free printable, which you can find here.
I printed it out and popped it into a perfect frame. 

On the bookshelves. A chalkboard I painted years ago.

A Christmas quilt we were gifted the year after our house fire.
 It is warm and snugly.

Here's the view from the stairs. Garlands and more trees. 

I hope you enjoyed our Holiday Tour! 
Wishing each of you a blessed Holiday Season! 

Stop  by Tuesday, I'll be hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling! 

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!