Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Oh, A Garden Linkup!

Today, just exactly today, I was taking photos of my spectacular zinnias.  I was compelled to take such photos because truly the only thing singing in my garden this year is the zinnias.  The last two springs, we have been away for a month, HERE and HERE.  And it was awesome and it is looking ever so much like the new curriculum for the next ten years.

But anyway.  The garden does suffer so when one is away in the spring.

Neglected though they were due to a lag in playing catchup from being away from the garden and frozen in my ability to do anything but socialize this summer...well, here are the photos of the only really lovely part of my garden.  Captured forever as though I had worked really hard at it.  

And then I come across a lovely garden link up at Clan Donaldson.

My boundless joy!

More Resources that I ADORE

Classics on the Catholic homeschoolers bookshelf, my friends:

Christ the King, Lord of History

Christ and the Americas  both by Anne Carrol

While these books are effective as "textbooks" for lack of a better word, I think they bridge the gap really well between reading history through living books and an actual textbook.  I've not used them as a "history course" per se, but as another amazing resource book to complement and clarify what we are reading together.

I've done that in two ways.  One is to just look up topically whatever we are reading about and read those sections, paragraphs or chapters, that go along with our novel.  The other is just to read five minutes of the book, covering the chapters I've chosen to use, covering the "before and after" of an era or event to set the stage and provide some context and food for thought (for example, if we were studying the American Revolution, I'd probably read the sections from early settlement to post-war developments, such as the setting up of a government and the French Revolution).  If we were covering a larger time period, such as the Middle Ages, I'd probably read several chapters, for five minutes a day, right before whatever literature we are reading for the whole year.  Again, I'd cover some "before and after" information, such as the Fall of Rome to the beginnings of the Renaissance.

They have review questions and projects, at the end of each chapter which can be helpful to build discussion, but I've also used them for developing essay topics with high schoolers.

Five minutes a day.  Drip.  Drip.  Drip.

Both of these books have become supplementary reading for my older kids, as well.  Because we want to draw the whole family into a study, I supplement up and down as needed.  So I give a section for olders to read so they can go a little deeper.  I also choose story books that draw the youngers into a study.  They take in what they can. The story books often create context so that even the littlest understand a higher level book more thoroughly.

And here is one of the resources that I've used extensively.  It is a list of history resources ordered chronologically and cross referenced with other great resources.  Wow.   I'm not even gonna talk about it, just LOOK at it:

Reading Your Way Through History

I always print this resource out, and mark out my additional resources and keep them in a binder.  I add in audio tapes, movies, novels, articles...anything that fits and I love.

I've had a chronological list of saints from the first century to present day that I printed years ago, and is apparently not available any longer.  But in searching for it, I found this list, it's bigger, it's better:

Timeline of Saints

Again, this is something I would print out, for handy reference.

For Saint information, great biographies and links, I have used SPQN extensively.

If I think of any not-to-be-missed resources, I will add them to this little series.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Teaching History, using resources well

When we read together, learning is fostered primarily through discussion and example.

Most frequently asked question at our table..."What do you think?"
Most frequent comment..."Let's look that up."

Our go to...every single day, several times a day...are the encyclopedias.  They are the most direct route to concise information and a guide to gathering further information.  Often, something we look up, we just read a paragraph about.  Sometimes I skim an article to find the relevant information on a topic.  Sometimes we read the article, it's complementary articles on related topics, the recommended reading.   Encyclopedias give us an opportunity to take an interest as far as is desired or necessary.

And to share and discuss our varied interests.  Best reads ever are the ones where there are half a dozen encyclopedias scattered on the table, and everyone is looking at what the others have discovered.  There are some other resources we have found incredibly helpful when studying history as a Catholic family. 

A Catechism of Church History by Father Robert Fox is an amazing book.  It has chronological entries on the Church's history, and involvement in world history as well as commentary on common misconceptions and perceptions of the Catholic Church.  The entries are all short, like an desk encyclopedia, a paragraph to a few paragraphs. 

The Pocket Catholic Dictionary by Father John Hardon is also a resource book we would never be without.  It has dictionary entries of all things Catholic, so that words or ideas can be instantly accessed to aid discussion and also to help with the context of the story.

One other recommendation that I'd like to make is a beautiful book of saint's quotes.  They are organized by virtues and vices, so it can be an opportunity to bring the saints on board in an easy and natural way by looking up what THEY had to say about certain actions, sacrifice, temptations...

More resources next post.