Sunday, February 9, 2020

"The Tower of Lon-geon"

Proud Charlotte Mason mama moment: 

When your daughter, during free time, creates a “Tower of Lon-geon” (London + dungeon) out of Lego, complete with 2 hangings and Good Queen Bess locked inside! Also, it is a working candy dispenser!! 

High marks for creativity and historical content. 

Overheard the same afternoon:

J: Is that Queen Mary?
A: Yes.
J: Are you going to hang her?
A: No. Well, actually yes.
J: Yeah, she's Bloody Mary.
A: Actually I'll put her in the Tower. ... This is Good Queen Bess over here. 

Why I can't get this kind of detail in required narrations I don't know, but it's heartening to know it's in their brains somewhere! :D 

Saturday, February 8, 2020

A Large Room: Reviving Neglected Corners

This blog has been on my mind lately. I've neglected it, due in some part to lack of inspiration or purpose. Many days I have the urge to share an aspect of our home education journey, or capture a small moment of our home life. I haven't known what to do with them, or perhaps how to frame them.

When I first started this blog, I was a newlywed, living in a tiny apartment over a clothing store on a historic Ontario mainstreet. The name "Little Hearth" came from my desire to kindle a meaningful and beautiful home life, no matter how small our space.

Once we moved to Prince Edward Island, got a bit of land and a big old house, had a few kids, and started homeschooling, I expanded the name to "Little Hearth and Homestead." We were trying our hand at some basic homesteading activities - chickens, gardening, pigs. We enjoyed those things, but I find our focus has now shifted. The "Homestead" part of the name didn't fit into my big picture in the same way, at least in terms of blogging. "Little Hearth" on its own didn't quite do the trick either.

What next?

Well, I've been reading Karen Glass' book Consider This, a treatment of Charlotte Mason's place in the tradition of classical education. Today I read in Chapter 5 about Mason's "science of relations," which has to do with her "captain idea" of synthetic thinking - the ability to place things and thoughts within a wider picture of the world. It's all about the student forming relationships within an interconnected, ordered whole.

Glass quotes a paragraph by Mason which I've read before, but which met me today with a certain freshness. This is it:

"Children make large demands upon us. We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests. 'Thou has set my feet in a large room,' should be the glad cry of every intelligent soul. Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking - the strain would be too great - but all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest. We cannot give the children these interests; we prefer that should never say they have learned botany or conchology, geology or astronomy. The question is not, - how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education - but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he find his feet set? and therefore, how full is the life he has before him?" 

(Charlotte Mason, School Education, p. 170-71)

This is what captured me - the large room. What a beautiful picture for the goal set before us. As soon as I read it, I scribbled a note in the margin of the book: Little Hearth & Large Room.

Little Hearth - I am still one small woman, striving to kindle and tend the flame of our home life. A life sparked by God's own love and goodness, a life which provides warmth and cheer for our family, a life that may bring light to others.

Large Room - This is the spacious place God has, in his grace, given us to roam. This is what education is all about - preparing and inviting our children to participate in the fullest life possible. This is our humble effort to implement the universal principles Charlotte Mason was so adept at expressing.

So it is with these thoughts in mind that I am reviving this corner of the blogosphere. It is a continuation of what has gone before, with hopes of sharing more living yet to come.

"He brought me out into a spacious place; 
he rescued me because he delighted in me."
Psalm 18:19

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Spring at last

Spring is late coming this year. We usually see our first dandelion pop up on the south side of the house sometime in April, but this year, we had to wait till May 2!

I bought my very first watercolour set not long ago. I'm trying it out in my nature notebook. I really have no clue what I'm doing when it comes to painting, but I'm having fun with colour. This is a robin I copied from Bateman's Birds of Eastern North America.

All the green things bursting out stir a great wonder and longing in me, and when these are turned toward God, I believe it is prayer.

I desire the the fountainhead of life.
I desire the breath behind the wind, the green that kisses the new blades of grass, the master of the robins' symphony.
I desire the heat of the eastern sun, and the whisper that sends the kingfisher north again.
I desire the gravity that pulls the world toward spring.


Thursday, March 21, 2019

Snap Joy :: Early Spring Wonder

My littlest wonder gazer.  💗

~ Lindsey

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

February Nature Study Plans

I am presenting our plan for February Nature Study in retrospect, so you can see what we actually did, and not just what I hoped to do. :)

Getting Outside

February is cold here, and I don't even try to spend hours outside everyday! Though I do make a point of getting the kids out at least once a day (if they're not sick). We've had a fair amount of snow, and that makes it easier. Snow is fun! They've been sledding down our little front hill and building various forts. They are spending an average of half an hour outside mid-morning, and some afternoons they go out to play again. I confess to letting our  morning school schedule slide on days we've had a good snowfall and they want to stay out. I figure an hour outside on a winter's day is just as good for them as anything else on the schedule! Some days I'll make up the time in the afternoon while the littlest one has her nap.

I personally have not done a stellar job of "taking them out." I probably make it out 2-4 times a week right now, usually for 10-15 minutes. Once a week I am making an effort to go out for longer to play with them, lay in the snow, or walk around the yard making observations. I'm not scheduling that in, because it really is weather dependent.

Nature Journal

This month I determined to get myself in the habit of daily nature journalling. I've been studying up a little bit on Charlotte Mason's method of nature study and journalling. Right now I am focusing more on keeping a written diary of observations and occurrences. Jotting something down is easy! Drawing or painting takes a bit more time and thought, which means I often don't get around to it.

Perhaps it's ambitious to try to implement this in the middle of winter, when we have fewer opportunities for extended outdoor time, but I figure, why not give it a try?! I planned 2 things to help us all get into the habit of more regular journaling.

1. Bird feeder

I bought more birdseed! So easy yet so rewarding. The bird feeder is right outside our dining room window. I had the kids make a page for February Birds, and they have been writing down every bird we see this month, whether at the feeder or elsewhere in our travels. It's making us more attentive to the birds in general. I keep the binoculars and the bird book handy beside the window.

2. February Moon Chart

Our "special studies" this term is astronomy. I saw an idea somewhere about keeping a moon chart, and thought that would be a great way to observe the night sky and also have something to enter daily. We made a calendar-like grid spread over 2 pages, one box for each day. Most days we are looking outside after supper. Somedays we actually go out to look, and some days we are just looking out a window. In each box, the kids are recording their observations, including:

  • The shape of the moon (drawn)
  • Location of the moon (direction it is rising, or which window we see it from)
  • Other notes about weather and temperature 
If there is no moon, or it's overcast, we're recording that too. If we miss a day, we simply write "unobserved" and pick up where we left off. Some evenings the kids make their entries then and there. Other days we've left it till the next morning. (To be honest, there have been days when I've only remembered about the moon after they are all ready for or even in bed. Those days I've got them up to look out the window, then we record in the morning. It doesn't have to be perfect to be valuable!) 

I'm not sure what we'll do for March to keep things going on an almost daily basis. Any ideas?!?! 

Special Studies: Astronomy

We are using two books right now to go along with our astronomy theme. (We generally follow AmblesideOnline's nature study schedule.) We are focusing mainly on the moon and stars, though we are also getting an overview of space in general and our place in the universe.

Exploring the Night Sky by Terence Dickinson

Scheduled once a week. While this book is slightly dated (Pluto is still a planet, for example), we've been enjoying it. We're not attempting to do the whole book. We average a page or two a day, skipping around where I see fit. 

Find the Constellations (2nd Ed.) by H. A. Rey 

Scheduled once a week. We are moving more slowly than I had anticipated (quite a few sick days this month!), but it's still good. This is the one the kids ask for. The layout is simple. I had envisioned the kids drawing the constellations right into their nature journals, but for some reason they were resistant to that. 

So instead, we've done a few other things. We've made the constellations by poking holes with needles into a piece of black construction paper. That was fun! The kids also asked for a special book to put their astronomy related things in. I had some basic exercise books, so I gave them each one of those. They've been drawing some of the constellations in there, and other things from the books. I'm not really requiring anything in particular, but just letting them put in what interests them.

We'll keep going with astronomy as a special study till the end of March. 

Nature in Community

So far this term we've gotten together twice with another homeschooling family to do some activities related to our special study. (They are following the AO schedule as well.) We picked a few out of this book:

It was a lot of fun to get the kids together and share in our astronomy study. I loved when they were all sitting around the table after our activities drawing and writing in their nature journals. Seeing others' nature journals inspires them in new ways too!

All in all, February was a good month for nature study. The kids got sick toward the end of the month, and some of this fell to the wayside. Many days of the moon journal were missed. But we picked up where we left off. It doesn't have to be perfect to be worthwhile, I tell myself, when things don't go as planned.

Nature study is doable, and fun, even in February!

~ Lindsey

Monday, March 11, 2019

In March

In March
the clouds break
for half an hour or so
spilling bright blue ink over pale snow

In March
the creeks begin to run
melt and mud and mess
down old man winter’s tin shed roof

In March
the children rush
laughter echoing the sun’s
into water higher than their boots

~ Lindsey Gallant

Friday, January 25, 2019

A good January school day

Maybe it was the sun shining after so many days of cloud and storm, but today felt like a good school day. There was nothing particularly special about it, and we didn't even get to everything on "the list." But we took life as it came to us and made the most of the learning opportunities around us.

First off, with the sun breaking through the clouds, the girls got started with their morning paper...

For school this morning, we brought out the Cuisenaire rods (part of our regular math program) and Base 10 blocks to build number bond towers, increasing in height with every level. I got the idea from this video. Jack got his all the way up from 1 to 10!

Meanwhile, Ivy worked happily on puzzles while Arden did her geography reading and map drills. (She made her own tower later.) It was just a peaceful yet productive time.

This afternoon, during Ivy's nap, Arden and Jack and I went outside. After a lovely snowy January, we just had a big rainfall. I have mixed feelings about these January thaws, since they seem so out of place. And yet, they uncover some of that world waiting for spring.

We checked what the swollen river washed up after the rain and thaw, and took a general walkabout to see what we could see. As always, the little details bring the most joy - green ground cover that smells like a field of ripe summer grasses, tiny larch cones, and taking time to stop and smell the oak leaves...

Every single time I make time to go outdoors, I am glad I did. Every single time we make the time to observe and delight in nature, I am glad we did. I can't help thinking it's worth reordering our lives (and even school schedules) to make sure these connections with creation are being made.


Monday, November 5, 2018

A new school year!

We got off to a late start this year, but for all the best reasons. For most of September we were travelling and visiting family in the Northwest Territories! Our first day of school was actually Thanksgiving Monday.

Here are some shots of our first few weeks.

First Day Excitement

The littlest scholar!

Grade 3

Excited for Grade 1!

Nature Study

Learning about mushrooms

I love this picture - Kids running off with the school bus in the background!

Autumn tree study nature journalling 

Of course, she needs her own nature journal!

Afternoon nature walk

An ordinary day

Colouring along with natural history

Practicing handwriting!

"My math!!"

Note the missing teeth!

Pumpkin Day!

We experimented with whether pumpkins sink or float (and why), studied the cross section and seed pattern of both big and small pumpkins, did drawings, baked seeds, and baked the fruit.

Of course, there was carving too! This year the kids went with a starry night theme.

All lit up...

We're off to a great start!

This year, we're trying something a little different. Instead of following/modifying Ambleside Online, we are trying out another Charlotte Mason curriculum, A Gentle Feast. This program combines more subjects for the kids, and I liked the idea of doing our main work together as a family. We'll be journeying through early Canadian history this year. It will be interesting to compare to AO as we go along. There are some aspects of the new curriculum that really fit our current season of life and make things a little easier for me, but I also still feel like an Amblesider at heart!

Whatever the curriculum, I'm looking forward to our shared learning, exploring great books and ideas, and experiencing our big wonderful world!

~ Lindsey

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