Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Learning of Charlotte Mason

For quite some time now I have been slowly reading up on some of Charlotte Mason's education philosophy. I've not done any real indepth study, just spent some free time here and there reading and attempting to understand what I can about her ideas of educating.
I have been intrigued by what I have read. Miss Mason was born in England in 1842 and was an only child. Tragically she became an orphan at the young age of sixteen. It was also at a young age that she decided that education would be the work of her life. She would dedicate the rest of her days to understanding young children, they way they learn, how they excel and how best to asisst parents in educating their children to the best of their abilities.
I'll admit that Miss Mason does seem to have been blessed of the Lord when it comes to understanding these precious little ones. Although she never had any children of her own she was able to pour herself in to her "life's calling" in such a way that she resulted in having an intimate knowledge and understanding of children and learning.
Last week I was able to go to a local homeschool used book sale and picked up a book by Catherine Levison entitled A Charlotte Mason Education: A Home Schooling How-To Manual. I have seen this book around and have wanted to purchase it for quite some time but never did. I am so glad that I didn't because I was able to pick it up at the sale for $2.00!!! I also picked up at that same sale last year a wonderful book by Penny Gardner called Charlotte Mason Study Guide.
Although both about the Charlotte Mason education Mrs. Levison's books seems to be a more practical how-to book. From what I can gather by just flipping through the book it seems like it would help me understand how to teach each subject along the CM lines.
Mrs. Gardner's book however seems to go into more details about the actual reasons behind why Miss Mason taught as she did. She simplifies the philosophy for us more so than the first book.
My plan is to slowly read through the following books:
Why don't I just read the books Miss Mason wrote on her own? Well, I might dip into those since I can print them from the web for free but honestly, being a homeschooling Mommy of 4 little ones my time is very limited . I am also highly distractable so I would either a.) do nothing but read through her works or b.) begin and not ever finish!!
I figure that these smaller books are more practical for me at this point in my life. Although someday I do plan on reading through Miss Mason's own writings I don't forsee that happening anytime soon. So in the meantime I will utilize what managable books I do have to the best of my ability.
I would like to warn you however. This little study of mine is not going to be done as many "CMers" would probably do it or approve of. I am a simple lady. I do not believe that I will be tackling any great philosophical anythings and posting about them here! These will just be my simple thoughts and conclusions. Simply McMama!
What I would like to do is blog once a week about what I've learned from my readings. Maybe I'll give it a cute name like....Miss Mason Monday...or Twaddle-free Tuesday...or...I don't know, it's late! I've got nothing else!
Anyway I would like to welcome anyone else who is interested to join in! If you have access to any of the books please feel free to comment on what you are learning as well. Just leave a comment below and who knows, I may like what you have to say so much that I have you blog on here too!!
I am only going to be sharing what the Lord speaks to me about through these books and I would love to hear how He is working in your lives as you learn to be a better "educator" of your children!
As far as a schedule goes, yeah I'm so relaxed that I hadn't really thought about that yet! (This is going good huh??!) I will probably read just one chapter a week in each book. I will try to work on something and post it here within the next couple of weeks.
My official Miss Mason Monday (just decided to call it that! what a great planner I am! Hope I don't scare any of you away!) will begin on Monday, June 7. Hope to see some of you here!!

Lovin' Learnin'


Sometimes I wish that Brother would just let loose and get silly...

...I wish that he would just let it all hang out....

...and maybe just smile a little more!!


Lovin' Learnin'
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Download N Go Review

I have been asked to give a review on Mrs. Bennett's Expedition Australia Download N Go study. But first a little about these little jewels and Mrs. Bennett.

The Product
If you were to read anything about Amanda Bennett you would find that the word "unit study" doesn't follow far behind her name. She has been known for years in the homeschool community because of her pioneer spirit in regards to unit studies. And she has pioneered yet again! She has taken the "unit study" method of homeschooling and turned it into an unbelievably fun and easy way to learn about all sorts of things!! She is certainly the "Unit Study Queen" in my book!

Mrs. Bennett has partnered with the Old Schoolhouse Magazine (read an interview here.) to bring to us Unit Studies and lapbooks as they have never been available before. Each of her Download N Go ebook unit studies are filled with lapbooking activities, complete daily lessons which cover geography, reading, science, spelling, vocabulary, writing, art and more. The studies are beautiful and reusable and printable so that we can teach all of our children (and even our neighbor's children if we want to) for years to come. There are book suggestions included in each study but do not "carry" the lesson so if you can't find them you won't miss anything, The hyperlinks to videos, music, arts and crafts are all built in so you just click and you're there. As if all that weren't enough these little gems are ready to go upon downloading. Whew!! Got all that? Okay, well scroll back up, re-read all the awesomeness and then get back here cause it's time for my review.

My Experience

Starting this Unit Study on Australia was a last minute decision on my part. I decided Friday that I would go ahead and do this with the children and Monday morning I found myself sitting at the table with my laptop open, ready to begin.

I was pretty excited to be honest with you. I had seen these advertised so much and had wanted to try one out but never got around to it. I was now staring my chance right in the face.

We immediately began our lessons and I have to say that I was amazed at how everything really was just "Download N Go!!" I did no prep. Not a bit! I didn't even print out the lapbook items ahead of time! Honestly!! Now normally I would be scrambling for this and that and running to my computer to "find the link to that great worksheet" but it didn't happen this time.

We started day one off with a couple of short videos, and followed that with reading a little information about the continent of Australia, learned about Koalas, found the time zone difference, learned about the Great Barrier Reef and saw some gorgeous videos and pictures of that awesome place, did some lapbooking projects and learned a few Australian words. The kids have not stopped talking about Australia! They have loved this study!!

Their favorite part by far is the videos!! We are all pretty visual here so this fit the learning style perfectly!

I am amazed at how much material Mrs. Bennett has packed into these studies! There is so much I would dare say that you could easily spread this out into a 2 week study. We are actually only halfway through this study-the Homeschool Expo started today so I've been quite sidetracked but am needing to get this review in!! (Hey, on a sidenote, the Expo was WONDERFUL today! It's too late to join but you can still purchase the MP3s here.)

Anyway...like I said, I am going to be spreading this out a bit to ease some of the pressure off during the Expo week but it will work just fine I think.
As with all things nothing is perfect and there were a few little details that bothered me. I was a little dissapointed in a few of the video suggestions. A couple of them were more like commercials for Australia's toursim department than they were informative. They were great to watch but I really did want something more. However since these were on YouTube we had access to many other videos that we enjoyed. I also was only able to find about three of the books suggested at my library. She did link all suggestions to Amazon but I didn't have the time, or desire to purchase any. Thankfully enough these lessons are so meaty that we didn't miss the books at all.

On upcoming days I will change how I approach this study though. What I originally did was sit at the table and complete the whole thing in one sitting-like an hour or an hour and a half. In doing it over I would do it in chunks throughout the day.

The Breakdown
  • No prep work for Mom, literally just open up your computer, click, read, print as you need. Simple.
  • Full lessons!! No skimping here! Kiddos will get a very meaty exposure on the topic.
  • Multiple ages can learn together.
  • A good variety of topics are covered. (i.e. geography of the land, weather, distance from your home to cities in Australia, plenty of animal study, culture study, landmarks study etc.)
  • Lapbooking is included. Yay!
  • Satisfies all learning styles.
  • Access to videos and photos
  • Pre-scheduled books. She suggests different titles everyday.
  • The price! Individual studies are only $7.95 but you can also purchase monthly (4 studies) or get highly planned and purchase a whopping 19 studies.
  • Although I was excited about the book lists I was disappointed that a great majority for this study were not available at my local library.
  • Some of the videos that were chosen were more like commercials for Australia instead of actually being very informative.
  • Being stuck at the computer. (But that my just be me.)
Even with those cons I would still say that these are awesome and definately worth giving a try! I might sprinkle in a few here and there throughout our year next year!! Check check out the Download N Go Unit Studies today!!!

Lovin' Learnin'

A sweet hubby and a cute picture

My super wonderful hubby decided to take the kiddos out to eat tonight so that I could listen to the rest of the Schoolhouse Expo without distraction. What an awesome man is he!! Aren't ya jealous!!

He just sent me this adorable picture of Littlest getting ready to dig into a plate of food with WAY too much food on it!! ;) It's funny, it's so quite I kinda miss the noise!!

Although it's tiring at times I'm thankful for a big family!!!

Lovin' Learnin'
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Friday, May 7, 2010

Spring Recital

Here is a video of Biggest's first piano recital!! She did great! She also got two trophies and a certificate!! She was so shocked and excited!!! She really has worked hard this past year so I have no doubt that the Lord blessed her because of that!

Lovin' Learnin'