Monday, April 14, 2008

What's the difference between onions and textbooks?

Most people don't cry when you cut up a textbook!

I'm not even sure where to start in talking about the homeschool expo that I attended this weekend. I was only there one day and got so much information that my head is still swimming! And most homeschoolers were there to buy curricula as well! At least I got to skip that step - I can't even imagine trying to decide between the thousands available.

Exhibitors lined the halls and rooms of a THREE story bigger-than-life church. The only church I've visited that was larger was my brothers in AZ and people would literally walk in there thinking it was a shopping mall. ;)

I started Saturday with a speaker from our homeschoolers lobbyist group, FHE. As well as entertaining us, she gave us information on MO homeschooling laws, examples of log sheets and some information about different methods of homeschooling. Yes, she did mention unschooling! The other major methods she talked about were
1. Traditional - (think "school at home") This is the idea most people have in their heads when you say 'homeschool' - it's filled with worksheets, curriculum and lesson plans. These people usually have school for set hours each day.
2. Classical - This method is heavy *heavy* in reading and teaches things according to age and mental readiness.
[excerpt from the above link]Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium.
Check the link for more info.
3. I think the other they mentioned was Charlotte Mason style - This woman believed that kids should explore other areas outside of reading, writing and 'rithmatic (she lived in the late 1800's/early 1900's). She thought they should explore art and music as they had interest to do so. This method relies heavily on having the children notebook what they're learning. From writing a sentence or two about it (or for younger ones, they can draw pictures or have an adult write what they dictate), to collecting items from nature...anything you can imagine in a scrapbook! There are CM curricula out there but I'd venture to say, in my humble opinion, that she probably wouldn't like that too much, from what I've read about her. ;) Think "learning through living books". What's a living book, you ask. Well, I'm glad you did. A living book is something that gives you a real sense of the subject in a personal matter. A living book could be Tom Sawyer, Little House on the Prairie and Swiss Family Robinson as opposed to a non-living book like the encyclopedia or classroom textbooks that give information but don't give much feeling or mood. Admit it - how much more thought have you given to the movie, Titanic, than the couple of dry paragraphs you read about the disaster in school? I hated history in school. But after we read The Diary of Anne Frank, I wanted to know more about WWII.
4. Unschooling - and you're figuring out what that is. :)

To my local homeschooling friends in MO and IL, I'd highly recommend getting a copy of their book, "First Things First". It goes over all the above as well as record keeping, transcripts, homeschooling support groups in MO, and so much more! You can get it on CD at the link for $5 or in book form for $10.

After that session was over, I started out in the Notebooking session. This would appeal greatly to CM homeschoolers but I think Rose would especially love to do this so I ran in to get the basics. But I got a good idea of where she was going pretty quickly and looked through her kids notebooks that she brought with her. I stepped out about halfway through and ran downstairs to the other session I wanted to see that hour. [That's the only problem with these things - I want to see every session and can only pick one an hour!] I stepped into Diana Waring's History Via the Scenic Route. WOW. Can that woman TALK! She's so fast that you're afraid to laugh at her jokes because by the time you stop to breathe, she's 10 sentences past you. Filled with more energy than I could ever EVER imagine, she sped us through some major history and did it so well that hers was the only booth I actually bought something from that day. Can you imagine? Me, who detested history, bought a history CD...for ME. LOL Not for my kids but for me ('course I'll be nice and share if they ask)!! (My title joke is hers, I must admit)
She talked about anchoring history on itself. Why does the year 1776 stick out in your mind? Did it ever occur to you that Mozart was creating music abroad that year too? History was taught to me in groups of events instead of chronologically; I think I would have preferred the latter.
She talked about things you can do to make history come alive for your kids...Take the Roman Empire for example. Read The Robe (living book), Caesars Gaelic War, build a roman arched bridge, map and study the size and changes of the Roman Empire according to ruler, make anise cookies. Anise is an herb that smells like licorice. Roman rulers used anise to scent their linens. So, stick a licorice stick in your child's pillowcase and let them think about being a powerful Roman. You can also make Joseph and Mary puppets going to Bethlehem. Yes, Joseph and Mary.
Luke 2:1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
This was the reason that Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem and the reason that Jesus was born there. Remember the whole Marc Antony/Cleopatra/Julius Caesar story?? Caesar Augustus was adopted by and named after his great uncle, Julius Caesar. When you connect the dots, it makes more sense and now it has a REASON to be remembered rather than dates you memorize for a week until you're tested on it.
I really loved Diana's presentation and am looking forward to listening to her whole series of history audio books.

Expo, part 2 next time. :)

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