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Everything posted by Publia

  1. I think you're thinking along the lines of art appreciation/viewing rather than art creating, yes? For viewing, the Riverbend Press prints are really nice: https://www.riverbendpress.com/shop-artist-prints Memoria Press has poster sets that have an assortment of images, some of which correspond to the Middle Ages. We also checked out those large-format art books from the library for more pictures. There are lots of good options for Middle Ages/Renaissance art! My goal for viewing art in elementary is to learn to carefully observe (this is true for the art-creating part too), and to get a feel for different artists and styles and how art movements evolved over time, so our approach is to take a good look over the course of a few weeks at a picture, and perhaps read a little about the artist. We do some attempts at copying elements of the piece, too (occasionally, and depending on the piece we're looking at). Bottom line: I don't think you need a curriculum and it doesn't need to be complicated. Get a handful of great pieces to look at, perhaps some books on the artists, and art supplies if you want to attempt to some copying.
  2. Re: pacing, it sounds like you might be able to cut back on the review portion, but I'll tell you what we did, to give you an idea of one approach. We did more or less one lesson per day as suggested, but sometimes I broke the lessons up into two (this was in the first half of the book). We skipped the first 26, as we covered the basic alphabet prior to starting on the book. Also, we rarely did the two review thing unless there was some indication that the prior lesson didn't sink in. When we did a review, it would be more along the lines of me pointing to a line or two from the prior page and having the child read that line/lines, not re-reading the whole lesson. I preferred to get in the review by practicing with other books, mostly BOB books and really easy readers, at another point in the day. The child read these books aloud and I listened/followed along. I usually just fished around in the box of BOB books or in the pile of books I'd gotten from the library to roughly match up the practice books with the lesson for a second before announcing "It's reading time!", though, so it wasn't always an exact review. But it worked nicely, so I think that a more casual approach to selecting practice books is okay. 🙂 FWIW, it's been my experience that children take longer to work through a lesson in the first half or so of the book than in the second half. We typically fly through the last half of the book. We still only do one lesson per day, but they typically take much less time (and we never did more than 20 minutes of phonics lesson per day to begin with). I did not pay much attention to the grade levels/Lexile designations. Assuming you're seeing regular progress and the child is moving steadily into more difficult texts (and understanding them -- we use narrations and discussions for assessing that), I would recommend not focusing on that. My approach to finding books for practice after we'd exhausted the BOB sets was basically to flip through the easy readers at the library before bringing them home (Gossie, Frog and Toad, Mr. Putter and Tabby, Little Bear, etc. all seem to work fine at somewhere past the half-way point of OPGTR). The Elson Reader series is another option -- you probably want the one that corresponds to the grade that your child would be in. I think you'll quickly get a feel for what would be good practice for your child, without reference to Lexile range or other metrics.
  3. I know this isn’t quite what you asked, but I also highly recommend watching them in the garden. We have milkweed in our garden, and we’ve seen three separate sets of Monarch and Queen butterfly eggs and caterpillars just this year. Finding a chrysalis after they’ve left is tough, but that’s by design. Watching the role the plants play (which you might miss in a controlled habitat) is incredible—the caterpillars strip them clean, flowers and buds and all, and then they grow more. Another advantage of watching them in the “wild” is that you can see how they react to things like changes in the weather. We've watched our caterpillars in wind and rain, etc. It's a live version of the (really good) documentary Microcosmos. One caveat: As I understand it, caterpillars typically pupate a fair distance from their larval plant, and they obviously have to crawl to that spot, so you want to make sure your plant is located in a spot that gives them a good chance to get to an acceptable pupation site. (Right next to a road or a sidewalk is not a good idea, for example, because caterpillars aren’t the speediest critters. And probably best to stay away from grass that is regularly mown.) It sounds like you have a fantastic set-up right in the garden!
  4. These aren't in a single room, but are in various strategic places: - National Geographic World Map - other maps (U.S., state, some individual country maps, some marine maps too) ... we like maps! - a frame through which I rotate the MP art posters and some of these: https://www.riverbendpress.com/shop-artist-prints (I like these better than the MP posters because the print quality is superior and they don't have a crease down the middle, but they're smaller and more expensive) - framed art prints from the National Gallery of Art and other art museums. I can vouch for the quality of the "matted prints" at NGA and the frames they sell to fit those particular prints. They're nicely done and not terribly expensive. - and lots of kid art! Have you seen the south-up maps?
  5. There are a number of comments about how the DIY/design-your-own element of homeschooling seems to be disappointingly shrinking, so I thought I’d address that sentiment from the perspective of a newer HSer. (We’re four years in.) First, I think the posting on these forums might not completely reflect the amount of DIY that’s truly going on in homeschooling today, in part because those of us who are inclined that way are kind of overwhelmed time-wise (I have really young children in addition to my upper-elementary aged child and bathrooms and a kitchen that desperately need to be cleaned, let’s not even think about the piles of laundry!) and mostly looking for the advice/thoughts of those who have BTDT. I particularly value the experience that others have, especially those who are partly/entirely on the other side of it. Got a teenager who writes really well? Then I want to hear how you built towards that! That sort of thing is super helpful in organizing my thoughts. The other things I love here are the posts that have great lists of books others have read and loved (I live for those!), and the ones that explicitly or implicitly remind me that an experimental approach that’s thoughtful is highly likely to turn out wonderfully on all fronts in the long-term. Second, outsourcing/drop-off options, online options, and particularly the idea that you must be an “expert” or somehow “certified” by an external authority to do education well—all of that really does have an impact on the number of parents who are willing to take a DIY approach. (Also, the laundry. Oh, and the noise level that a house full of youngish kids all too frequently reaches, even if they are generally well-behaved, love to read, and have plenty of outdoor time/physical activity.) Yes, some parents simply aren’t that interested in actually putting in the work of HS, but I think many more are just intimidated and fearful of messing it all up. The notion that you need to be a certified expert—as opposed to only thoughtful and willing to put in the effort—to teach is strong, and I think it pushes many parents in the direction of the perceived safety of having someone else’s imprimatur on their educational plans. Anyhow, all that is to say that I want to participate in these types of discussions here, and I guess from my perspective, if the discussions move a little (or even very) slowly, I think it’s more about people taking time to formulate a thoughtful response amidst all the other things they have to do. Which is okay with me, because I think we all stand to benefit from that type of exchange.
  6. I don't know about others, but I didn't sign up/comment because I was pretty sure when we were just beginning that I didn't have much to add that others with more experience (you, for example! 🙂 ) hadn't already said well. My approach to commenting is generally to let others go first and then if I still feel that I've got something worthwhile to add, I pipe up. We're into year 5 of "official" HS now, so while our endeavors are still to my mind highly experimental, I do have at least some experience and not just theory at this point. I don't mind a public forum. I'm not convinced that FB offers substantially more real privacy than what you get here, even if it's nominally private. I do agree FB and Insta are killing discussion on other websites, including probably this one, but I guess the contrarian in me feels the need to resist that. ETA: I do admit that I was disappointed to click into this thread and find that it was about moving conversations over to FB. I was looking forward to discussing designing particular programs of study! I generally agree; I think a well-worded subject line is enough to point people to the idea that you want to discuss designing your own studies in X subject.
  7. This is my case! Maybe a less time-intensive/single-platform option would be to try to designate "DIY" or something similar in the title to posts here? Or maybe the admins can set up another board on the forum for curriculum design discussions? I haven't commented until recently, but I've read here for years and I think it would be unfortunate to drive the thoughtful discussions that take place here on designing curriculum over to FB and also to have a more limited group of discussants. I'm probably in the minority, but I'd much rather chat here than on FB.
  8. I don’t think that “read great works” is ever poor advice, especially not in the context of classical education, which is where I thought this conversation started. Classical education requires that you’re engaging with and discussing ideas. But the the ideas the students and teacher are discussing must be great ideas. Mediocre ones don't cut it. The whole point of the statement we’re discussing is that it’s better to spend even a little time with great ideas than a lot of time with mediocre or bad ones. The reason why they’re called “great books” is because they are a deposit of the greatest ideas in humanity, ideas that many generations of thinkers have determined are worthwhile to think about. To 8FillTheHeart’s question, my oldest is still relatively young and in the middle range of the three you mentioned. We’re spending a lot of time with excellent children’s books and myths/fairy tales.
  9. I think that the important idea here is that quality is paramount and should be the focus when deciding how to allocate one’s limited time. Doing a little serious work with quality books is better than spending a great deal of time on lesser books. (To be clear, this is not a criticism of your Lego books example. Easy readers serve a purpose and I think they fit easily into the paradigm of working toward great books, particularly when combined with exposure to higher quality books.) The reason quality matters is that an excellent quality book makes intellectual demands of its readers—it requires them to think carefully—and practicing careful thinking is an essential component of classical ed. Lesser books don’t make those same demands. If the lesser books model sloppy thinking, then that is problematic. Spending a little bit of time with careful thinking is better than spending a lot of time with mediocre thinking. I think this is particularly important for children, because they tend to absorb the patterns that they spend time with.
  10. I have no knowledge of the context here either, but I think it’s notable that he said “better.” He didn’t say that a superficial knowledge of great books was the ideal, or even acceptable. He said it was better than knowing a lot about slight books. I agree with that. I’m guessing that his rationale was that deep knowledge of “slight” (I’m going to assume that he meant this as a synonym for “junk” and picked this word for stylistic reasons) books actually could be damaging, but minimal knowledge of truly great books won’t do harm. I think that’s consistent with classical education. I don’t think that the end goal of classical ed is slight knowledge of great books, and I’d be very surprised if that’s where he ended up in his talk.
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