Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Bittersweet Magazine and the One Room School

Bittersweet Magazine began in 1973 as a class assignment.  An English teacher found a great way to get her students to write.  They began a project "dedicated to preserving the crafts, lore, legends and personalities of the Ozarks."  And so the students began documenting the culture of the area around Lebanon, MO.

This project is near and dear to my heart because it just so happens that I am originally from very close to the same area.  Several generations of my family lived in this area.  And this same culture is a part of my heritage.

One particular article struck me as I was reading tonight.  This article is an interview with a woman named Lois and she tells about what it was like when she was going to school back in the early 1900s.  I was struck by how very different the school experience is today.  From something as simple as having an hour for lunch and playing to the orderliness of lining up outside according to where you were seated and marching inside.

Morgan School from Bittersweet Magazine

I really found this article in the same issue fascinating.  While the previous article I mentioned is from the point of view of a student in a one room school in the early 1900s, this article is from the point of view of a teacher in a similar school in the 1970's.  He has some really interesting points that I think home educators will be interested in reading.  I was sad to read his hopefulness at the end that perhaps the one room school approach was coming back in vogue.

Another article shows what a day is like for one teacher in a one room school house.  Her lesson plan is shown and her thoughts on how to get eight grades through one day in one room.  Her organization style will be so familiar to any home educator.  Especially one in a large family.  I'd love to pick her brain!

I hope you'll enjoy reading through the issues of Bittersweet Magazine and learning a bit about the Ozark culture.  Tales of a hardworking, industrious people from a time long gone. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Jesse Trees to Benefit World Vision

A friend of mine and her children make Jesse Trees each year to sell in order to raise money for World Vision.  If you would like to use a Jesse Tree during Advent but don't have the time to put it all together she is a one stop shop for the tree, ornaments and devotions.  She will also sell you the materials to make your own ornaments and the devotion book.  If you order right away there is still time to get one and start without missing too many days.  Or you can put it away for next year.  Here is more information from her flyer:

What is a Jesse Tree?

It is a wonderful spiritual tool to help your family prepare for the Christmas season. It is similar to an advent calendar as you daily reflect on a different aspect of Christ for the 25 days leading up to Christmas.

What do I get?

Each Jesse Tree Set comes with an 18" Christmas tree, 25 hand-made ornaments, and hardbound devotional book, "The Advent Jesse Tree: Devotions for Children and Adults to Prepare for the Coming of the Christ Child at Christmas" .

How does it work?

Starting December 1st, you simply work through the devotionals and place an ornament on the tree each day. In our family we even wrap each ornament and place them under our tree. We love the excitement of unwrapping a new ornament each day .

Where do the proceeds go?

We are selling Jesse Trees to benefit World Vision! When we decided to sponsor children through World Vision, we thought that making and selling Jesse Trees would be a great way to meet our sponsorship requirements.

How much does it cost?

Each Jesse Tree set costs $40. Or as another option if your family would like to make the ornaments yourself, we will provide all of the materials plus the book for $25. Remember all of our proceeds go to World Vision.

What if I want to know more?

If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at doyel@everestkc.net.

Thank you and God Bless,

Nathan, Lauren, and Rebekah Doyel

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Today is the first Sunday in Advent, a time of waiting and preparing for the birth of our Saviour into the world.  I like to observe this time as a learning time for my children as well as a way to keep Christ in our thoughts during this season that can all too often can become about the idols of greed and self gratification.  So I have spent some time over the years finding activities for us to use to learn.

One fun way to do that is by making this Paper Doll Creche  browse through the photos in the set to find all four pieces of this.  This is at the Flickr site of one of my favorite blogs Agence Eureka .  This blog is all in French but it doesn't really matter because the point is to share the author's incredible collection of paper ephemera, something that I adore.  Scroll through and find some interesting things from the past.

In the past I've posted about other activities we do at this time.  You can learn about the Jesse Tree and a nice resource for Jesse Tree readings.  There is also a reminder of the most important lesson we can teach at this time. 

Our family has also really enjoyed using an advent wreath with weekly readings during this time and even though tomorrow is the first Sunday in Advent it's not to late to start one.  Just go out and find 3 purple candles, a pink one, and a white one.  Our time each week is simple but something we all enjoy.  We light the candle or candles for that night, read a passage of scripture, say a prayer and then sing a hymn together.  In the past we have worked on O come Emmanual.  Here are some suggested Bible verses that you can use to get you started, but you can vary the devotions for your family:

First Sunday of advent : Hope - light one purple candle to symbolize Hope. Read Isaiah 11:1 – 11. Extinguish the flame.

Second Sunday : Peace - Light two purple candles - Hope and Peace. Isaiah 9:2, 6-7. Extinguish the flames.

Third Sunday : Joy - Light two purple candles (Hope and Peace) and one pink to symbolize Joy.  Read Isaiah 35:10. Extinguish the flames

Fourth Sunday: Love - light all four candles - Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.  Read Isaiah 9:6-7. Extinguish the flames.

Christmas Eve: Light all four candles and the fifth white candle (the light of Christ).  Read Luke 1:68-79 and Luke 2:1-20. Keep the candles lit throughout the evening.

I hope you will find some way to reflect on this season and it's true meaning.  Slow down and spend time with God and draw closer to him.  There is no greater gift.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Book Review: A Century Turns

I have been looking forward to reading William Bennett's latest book, A Century Turns.   This book covers the period of 1988 to 2008 in American history and politics.  The author had a very intimate perspective into this time period as he served as Secretary of Education and chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities under President Reagan and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Bush.  That means that this particular volume of Bennett's history series is full of first hand, inside information.  This book follows Bennett's previous works, America: The Last Best Hope: Volumes 1 and 2.

I believe that anyone interested in American history and politics would find this a valuable read because of the primary source that Bennett is to so much of the history of this time in this place.  I found it very readable and engaging.  Bennett's "voice" is very comfortable to read.  Very like sitting down with a friend to hear their side of the story of an event they were involved in.  But at the same time the book is much like a history text with plenty of good information.  Having lived through these events I found the book helped me to create a timeline of sorts in my mind of the events that took place.  Some of the events had faded from my memory and this book was a good reminder and at the same time added new information I had not known before.  In addition the personal view of the people we see only in the news shorts was fascinating.

Because of the primary source material I believe that this book would be an excellent supplement to a history spine for an American History class for students in high school or college.  I would certainly use it to teach my own children as the part of a larger curriculum.  I believe it has value in teaching Bennett's side of the story that unfolded as our collective history.  I enjoyed his writing style enough to now want to read his previous two volumes of history.

I was provided a copy by the publisher for review. I am under no obligation to "like" the book and I wouldn't publish a review here if I didn't like the book.  But I did really enjoy reading this book and recommended it for personal edification or teaching in a classroom.

The Louisa Alcott Reader

This book is a sweet 4th grade reader from 1908.  The first story is a charming Christmas story inspired by Dicken's classic The Christmas Carol.  It's worth a look for that story alone.  You can find this book and many, many other wonderful storybooks for children at Childrenslibrary.org.

I found this book because I have a gadget on iGoogle that shows me a different book from the site each day.  You can get that gadget on their homepage.  You can also get apps for the iPhone and Ipad on their homepage.  But be careful, you can lose a lot of time looking through books here!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Great Deal On The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

I've said before here that I'm a big fan of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  Right now there is a terrific sale going on to subscribe for only $10 a year.  However, this sale ends Wednesday, November 3rd at midnight.  Get it while you can!
$10 one-year (U.S) subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine-Click Here!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Awesome Hymn Resource

Those of you who follow the Ambleside Online Curriculum (and I do albeit somewhat loosely) are familiar with teaching your children a hymn each semester.  If your not proficient enough on the piano to accompany each hymn it can be tricky to find a good resource to help your children learn.  Today I saw a link to this semester's hymn that I love so much I sat here and listened and sang along with several.

This semester's hymn, I Am Resolved, is here.  The link to embed wasn't working.

And here is one of my favorite Hymns, Nothing But The Blood of Jesus.  I first heard this hymn working at a local mission to the homeless.  It was requested by one of the men who had come for dinner.  Singing this hymn to the piano in this video is very similar to the experience at the mission as it was also sung to piano like this.

Of course, some of you may not like this style of music, but my family loves old fashioned gospel and hymns.  And I love the "sing a long" feel of the piano. And if you go to the youtube "channel" for Oldsongswithlyrics who posted this video you will find dozens more.

You should try it really.  Just sitting and singing through some of these hymns is very uplifting and even more fun with more people.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Win an Excalibur Dehydrator!

Keeper of the Home is having an excellent giveaway of a 9 tray Excalibur Dehydrator.  But you only have until June 25th to enter.  Or not...and then I have a greater chance of winning!!

Happy Father's Day

The person on the left is having the time of her life, the one on the right loves the one on the left...

Un Bel Di

by Gerald Locklin

Because my daughter's eighth-grade teachers

Are having what is called an "in-service day,"

Which means, in fact, an out-of-service day,

She is spending this Friday home with me,

So I get up in time to take us,

On this summery day in March,

For a light lunch at a legendary café

Near the Yacht Marina.

Then we feed some ducks before catching

The cheap early-bird showing of

My Cousin Vinny, at which we share a

Dessert of a box of Milk Duds large

Enough to last us the entire show.

Afterwards we drive to a shoe-store to

Get her the Birkenstocks she's been coveting,

But they're out of her size in green; we leave

An order and stop for dinner at Norm Calvin's

Texas-style hole-in-the-wall barbeque rib factory.

When we get home I am smart enough

To downplay to my wife what a good day

We have had on our own. Later, saying

Goodnight to my little girl,

Already much taller than her mother,

I say, "days like today are the favorite

Days of my life," and she knows

It is true.

Monday, May 31, 2010


Today in the United States we honor the soldiers who fought to protect our country and the right to peace, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of others.  This holiday began after the Civil War but did not become a national holiday until 1971 although almost every state celebrated it. I remember my Great Grandmother calling it "Decoration Day" as did many in her day.  You can read more about the holiday here.  In our family we recognize the day by talking with our children about what it means to give your life for another, the ultimate unselfish act.  I encourage you to do the same.  As we live our lives in peace and the freedom to do as we chose on this day, we live out their gift to us and show that it was not in vain.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Art and Music Appreciation

I recently ran across this site that has a set of paintings in a slideshow with the music of a particular artist.  For instance, this set contains the works of Van Gogh with the music of Bach.  They are well done and particularly nice to watch if your are studying either of these artists. The only problem is they are hosted by some mice that I find particularly annoying.  Fortunately you can skip their intro, but they reappear at the end with links to short biography of the artists.  Sadly there wasn't one with Monet or Ravel who we are currently studying.  But you'll want to check them all out!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thoughts on Holy Week

Hans Memling's Scenes From The Passion of Christ
find a list of the scenes here

We began our Holy Week watching The Ten Commandments and talking about Passover.  Passover started on Monday and as Jesus was a Jew he celebrated Passover.  During Christ's Passover meal he proclaimed that the meal symbolized himself and he died at the hour that the Passover Lamb was sacrificed in Jerusalem as you can see in Matthew 27:46, 50, Mark 15:34-37, and Luke 23:44-46.  The New testament calls Christ our sacrificial lamb and John the Baptist called him, "the Lamb of God."  So for me the Passover is linked with the celebration of the Resurrection this Sunday.

There are some really nice Old Time Radio Shows being offered by the Erskines of homeschoolradioshows.com.  Check their page this week for some nice Easter themed freebies and while you are there check out the cds they offer of Old Time Radio specifically for educational purposes.  If you sign up for their newsletter you will receive frequent free program links from them as well.

Another tradition we have this week has to do with food of course.  Good Friday we make Hot Cross Buns which are an old tradition going back centuries in England.  My dear British friend, Rachel, of The Jacobite Rose makes the BEST but I'm too much of an American to do flour paste crosses and I do a nice big fat cross of icing across each bun.  I've written more about them here.

This week we will also read the accounts of Jesus' life this week in the Gospel begining in Matthew 21: 1 and continuing through to the end of Matthew.  I've been thinking of doing the Stations of the Cross with my children this year as well.  There are some excellent resources for that here  and here .

Also this week we will be cleaning up our Easter Garden.  Another idea I received from my ever resourceful friend Rachel.  You can read more about that here.

No matter what I do it's not the activities that are important.  It's knowing that Christ freely gave his life as a substitution for my own so that our relationship with God could be reconnected.  All that Christ asked is that I remember and believe.  The activities are just to help me focus on that fact and teach it to my children.  I pray that you will also meditate on this during this week.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Patrick's Day

If you have read my blog for awhile you know that I'm very fond of St. Patrick's Day celebrations.  Patrick was indeed a great man and an excellent role model for us all.  For one, he is a great example of forgiveness.  Young Patrick was stolen from his home on the coast of Britain by Irish raiders.  He was taken to Ireland and lived there as a slave.  Homesick, sad and lonely he cried out to God and was eventually lead by God to escape and return to his home.  But once home God asked him to go back and tell the people who had captured him about God's plan for their salvation through Jesus Christ.  And Patrick did it.

On this day my family not only remembers Patrick, but also the Irish people.  I've posted many other things on this blog that you may be interested in checking out again or for the first time about St. Patrick's Day.  Here are some new things.

St. Patrick's Old Time Radio I especially enjoy the show "Beat the Band."

Notebooking Pages and More notebooking pages for your kids.

Saint Patrick Curriculum

Toymaker St. Patrick's Day fun and the new Celtic Circle box

One of my favorite movies about the Irish is the Secret of Roan Inish. This movie is a fairy tale on film. It has beautiful imagery, a great story, wonderful actors and a soundtrack you'll want to hear again and again. Here are the trailer and a video with some clips of the film.  Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh! May the Blessings of St. Patrick's Day be upon you.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lullabies of the World

 Lullabies of the world  by Metronome Films is a collection of animated films based on lullabies of different nations. I'm really not sure if this is even for sale anywhere as I can't seem to find it for sale, but I'm in LOVE with the clips I'm seeing on Youtube.  My children only very, very rarely request lullabies at this point in their lives, but I would love this just for me.  It reminds me of when my daughter was a toddler (she is now 11) and we got the the Baby Bach DVD.  We watched it all the way through and at the end my husband turned to me and said, "that was so relaxing I'd watch it everyday."  Hee...hee!!  I feel the same way about these videos.  Beautiful, intriguing animations and lovely songs combine to create very enjoyable viewing that both children and parents will like.

There are several on Youtube; French, Yiddish, Greek, Indian are a few I saw.  The link I provided above takes you to several more too.  The videos I've embedded here were posted by the creators of the film.  The Turkish Lullaby is my favorite, but I love the portrayal of weary parents in the beginning of the Chukchi Lullaby.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Gerald McBoing-Boing

Dr. Suess' birthday this week is the perfect excuse for me to share one of my favorite animated shorts, Gerald McBoing-Boing.  This story written by Theodore Geisel is one of my favorites because of the animation style.  I love the Mid Century style of the UPA Cartoons from the 50's and 60's.

If you enjoy this too search for "UPA Cartoon" on youtube for more (Jot the Dot was a UPA Cartoon). 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Nancy Drew Revisited

Recently I visited a new blog, Books, Movies and Chinese Food, and while there saw a Nancy Drew Challenge which caught my interest.  The challenge is to read all 56 books that are in the original series by December 31, 2010.  This challenge is to read specifically the yellow spine covers which are versions of the books that were "revised" beginning in 1959.  Personally, I would like to read the original books from the 30's.  The originals are longer and I'd like to read Carolyn Keene's original intent.  But since I have three of the yellow spine covers from my childhood I started there.  My books were purchased in the early 70's and I noticed the tag on one said it was $1.79!!!  And it's a hardback!!  Wow!!!

I read #3, The Bungalow Mystery.  Although I know I have read all three of the books I have, I remembered nothing in the story.  Well, it has been a long time after all.  Another interesting thing is I really enjoyed it!  What really struck me was how Nancy is so “perfect.”  She is pretty, even tempered, smart... you name it! I was laughing as I read aloud a passage to my husband in which she has car trouble.  Nancy jumps out, opens the hood and figures out what’s wrong in about 30 seconds. She thinks to herself, "good thing I took that automotive repair class."  It was very funny, but at the same time I realized that Nancy is a good role model for girls. Nancy's character models for girls that they are capable and they can do a great deal for themselves. But at the same time she is very feminine. She cooks, she dresses appropriately for all occasions (who knew there was appropriate dress for sneaking around someone's house late at night), and she is very kind.  Nancy has compassion for people and her sleuthing is more from her desire to help others than from a thrill seeking nature.  I think she is a great role model. Is she real…no…is there ANYONE out there like Nancy Drew…probably not…but I believe, like Plato, that there is a perfection that exists that we may not be able to obtain, but that we should spend our lives striving towards.  We shouldn't beat ourselves up when we aren't perfect as we know it's impossible to achieve, but the joy is in the journey after all.

So I highly recommend Nancy Drew Mysteries for your readers and maybe even for yourself!  If you want to take part in this challenge check it out for yourself at Books, Movies and Chinese Food.

And if you'd like to take this further watch the old black and white Nancy Drew movies which are a lot of fun.  Start with this one on Youtube.  It's in several parts which you can find on the right side of the screen if you fully open Youtube.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

L.M Montgomery Reading Challenge

L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge

I've decided to participate in the L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge offered by Reading To Know.  My goal is to read the very first book in the Anne series, Anne of Green Gables.  Believe it or not I have never read this classic children's story!  I watched the entire series on PBS and loved it and I've always wanted to read these books but never have.  So this seems like a good excuse to do so.

If you'd also like to join this challenge you can do so at Reading to Know.  She is even having a contest to go along with the challenge. If you haven't read any of these books, only a few or want to reread them join me!  I'm hoping to get my daughter interested as well.  Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Great Backyard Bird Count

Time again for the Great Backyard Bird Count.  A really great way to contribute to information about bird species and their numbers while learning about the birds in your area.  The time commitment is vey small.  Just 15 minutes a day of looking for birds in your yard and then reporting them online.  All the information you need is at the site including some information for teaching children about birds.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Handbook of Nature Study - FREE!

I have often blogged about and linked to the Homeschool Freebie of the Day site.  It's one of my favorites for sure.  This week they are featuring two great resources for followers of Charlotte Mason and Amblesideonline.org.  First Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study.  They have divided it into parts and are doing one part a day.  Right now you can start with Monday's download of part one as it is still up.  But who knows how long? 

In addition this week is a free download of a radio program about the poet Eugene Field and a free e-book of his poetry.  Field is near and dear to my heart as he is a fellow Missourian.  This was featured yesterday but is still available!  Check it out quick!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Fun for a Rainy Day

This video even shows how it was done at the end. 

Monday, January 11, 2010

Free Habit Training Download

Habit training is foundational in the Charlotte Mason Educational Philosophy.  But it seems to be one of the hardest things for me to do.  Perhaps that is because of my own habits that need retrained!  If there is one thing I have learned it is that we all have bad habits to remove and good habits we need to replace them with.

Simply Charlotte Mason is providing a free download on habit training called Smooth and Easy Days With Charlotte Mason.  If you aren't familiar with Charlotte Mason SCM is a great resource with lots of articles on this method and how to practice it.  SCM wrote my favorite habit training book Laying Down the Rails.  I urge you to get both!  It's a New Year and a great time to start building good habits.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

I'm sure many of you have already experienced the delightful period drama called Cranford based on the novel by Elizabeth Gaskell and produced lavishly for television and shown on PBS. The novel takes place around 1840 and is about life in a small town in England.  You can find out more here.

But what's REALLY exciting is that for a limited time you can view all the episodes online!!!!!  I would definitely not delay in watching these because who knows how long they will be available??  And it's so charming you'll really want to.

Even MORE exciting is that after you watch all three episodes of the first production...you'll be ready to watch Return to Cranford which is starting January 10th!!!  Suddenly all this snow we have seems much cozier.

Gaskell is one of my favorite authors and Masterpiece Theatre also aired a lovely production of her delightful novel, Wives and Daughters. You can see it on YouTube of all places.  Or borrow it from your library...or buy it.  It's really worth it.  Oh and definitely read the books!  They are not only humorous with an excellent story and charming, but also feature spunky young women that your daughters might enjoy.  I certainly did.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010