Monday, February 28, 2011

Book Sharing Monday - The Pea Blossom

While I still need to update our Core 5 substitutes page with all the wonderful books about Korea and China we've enjoyed in the past few weeks, I do want to share this particularly lovely title for Book Sharing Monday:

The Pea Blossom, retold and illustrated by Amy Lowry Poole
Poole has take the Hans Christian Anderson tale "Five Peas from a Pod" and given the story an Asian setting:

Once upon a time, in a small garden near the great city of Beijing, there were five peans in one shell.  They were green, and they believed that the whole world must be green, for that was all that they knew.

Poole's beautifully tinted watercolors gave us such pleasure that we find ourselves flipping through the book almost daily to view them.  Poole has two other titles we'll be seeking out, as well--The Ant and the Grasshopper and How the Rooster Got His Crown--and we look forward to more books by this artist, whose delight-filled website is here.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

What works for Jazz. . .

Inspired by a question posted on a homeschooling email list I'm on, here is part one of the Winter 2011 version of What's Working at Our House.  I'm finding it a challenging yet heartening exercise.  ☺

By a huge margin, Jazz's most successful curriculum to date is the Michael Clay Thompson Language Arts program.  I feel a bit like a broken record (if you're on the Secular Homeschool forum you've probably already "heard" me blather on about it), but it is really quite amazing to see the amount of retention of material that happens with so little "work."  By work I guess I mean what I did in school for language arts--filling in blanks on vocabulary worksheets (or worse! filling in circles for multiple choice!), reading mind-numbingly boring grammar books, completing meaningless writing assignments, etc.  Jazz gets to learn about the origin of words and word roots, analyzes a few sentences per week, reads about seemingly every aspect of poetry, and completes writing assignments that make sense to him.

He still likes to read, but would read fantasy and science fiction almost to the exclusion of all else if he didn't have a little "assigned" reading for our history & geography curriculum from me.  I choose his books carefully, and if he balks at one of my selections (usually one I didn't put as much thought into) and he has a good reason for not liking the book, I'll find him something else to read.  Usually he ends up enjoying his assignments.  Sometimes they even make it up to his room to be tucked on a shelf next to his bed.

Tucked in his bed, even though he finished reading it for homeschooling, is Joy Hakim's Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way.  I hope we're seeing the beginning of a passion for science here (or a passion about anything not having to do with Jedi Academy, please, please, please).  Next up is Newton at the Center--may it be as interesting to him as the first book!  We did try the Student's Quest and Teacher's Quest guides to go with Aristotle, but didn't enjoy them as is.  In my opinion, the manuals need some serious adapting for successful non-classroom use, and I had neither the time nor inclination to take on the task.  In a co-op setting, the quest guides could help a parent run an excellent study group based on the book, though.

My plan for Jazz for the remainder of the school year: finish his MCTLA level, read and discuss Newton at the Center, get as far across the Eastern Hemisphere as we can (we're almost to Russia), complete the PLATO Physical Science for Middle School program, finish his pre-algebra course, and follow any rabbit trails that appear.  Art will happen with his co-op (a stained glass class), and if we get back on track with composer study a la Charlotte Mason, I will be a happy homeschooler once more.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Poetry Friday - Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)

It was Elizabeth Bishop's birthday on Tuesday (and also the grandfather of science fiction, Jules Verne's), so, to help celebrate both it and Poetry Friday,  here is another work by the Massachusetts-born poet:

Five Flights Up
Still dark.
The unknown bird sits on his usual branch.
The little dog next door barks in his sleep
inquiringly, just once.
Perhaps in his sleep, too, the bird inquires
once or twice, quavering.
Questions--if that is what they are--
answered directly, simply,
by day itself.
Enormous morning, ponderous, meticulous;
gray light streaking each bare branch,
each single twig, along one side,
making another tree, of glassy veins...
The bird still sits there. Now he seems to yawn.
The little black dog runs in his yard.
His owner's voice arises, stern,
"You ought to be ashamed!"
What has he done?
He bounces cheerfully up and down;
he rushes in circles in the fallen leaves.
Obviously, he has no sense of shame.
He and the bird know everything is answered,
all taken care of,
no need to ask again.
--Yesterday brought to today so lightly!
(A yesterday I find almost impossible to lift.)

I posted a poem of Bishop's about music two years ago around this same time of year.  Read that one here.

Poetry Friday is being hosted today by Carol at Reading Is Fundamental.