A peaceful day

Phillipians 4:4-8

For with Thee is the fountain of life; in Thy light shall we see light. Psalm 36:9

Dads in the Homeschool

Posted by Jeanne

All our great educational reformers have been men. The reforms of women have taken the direction rather of practical application than of original thought. This is worth thinking of in connection with the theory that the home-training of the children is the mother's concern. Happily, it does not fall to each of us to conceive, for the first time, the principles which underlie our work. But when we take the conceptions of other minds into ours so that we are able to work them out - to handle them as the skilled artisan handles his tools, to produce by their means - why, then, do we originate. Such exercise of original thought on the subject of the bringing up of their children falls to both father and mother. "Oh that all children were born orphans!" cries an irate schoolmaster. They are not so born, and neither are they born fatherless; and that the father should be, as a bird, ever on the wing homewards with a worm in his bill, is not, however praiseworthy, the sole duty that attaches to human paternity. This is not a protest against the practice of fathers. The annals of fatherhood, no doubt, furnish as fine reading as those of motherhood. But it is a protest against the notion that early education is the concern of the mother alone.

Charlotte Mason, Home Education, Fragments, The Appendices, Third Edition, p369


Just for fun

Posted by Jeanne

These are some of the interesting culinary implements from our kitchen drawers. I thought it would be fun to see who could identify them all. There are no prizes - other than the satisfaction of knowing how clevah you are, of course, mainly because there is one item in there that we're not quite certain of ourselves. Anyhow, give it a bash!


Lessons from the Armitt II

Posted by Jeanne

The study of natural history and botany with bird lists and plant lists continues throughout school life, while other branches of science are taken term by term.Charlotte Mason, Towards a Philosophy of Education, p 220

Until I read Laurie Bestvater's book, The Living Page, I didn't know much about Charlotte Mason's Bird and Flower lists. Okay, actually I knew nothing about them at all. The quote above, is, I think, the only mention of them in her writings, and I guess I'd just skipped that sentence, without giving it much thought.

When I visited the Armitt Museum and actually looked at the Nature Notebooks stored there, though, I was struck by these lists. In particular, I was impressed by how little they changed from 1900 to 1950. In all the samples, the lists were there, and they were pretty much the same. I was also impressed with how easy these lists were.

Sample number: Name: Latin Name: Order: Date seen.

That's about it.

Let's have a look at some pictures, shall we, so you can see what I mean. Firstly, the flowers:

Then we have the bird lists:

And it's as easy as that. Page after page of lists, all very similar to the one before.
The next series pf photos shows you inside two lists that appear to have been kept by the entire school. The first list is just like the individual one; the second book contains the flowers in more-or-less alphabetical list. Simple, aren't they?

Keeping these bird and flow lists is fun, and quickly becomes pretty addictive. To give you an idea, here's a couple I've kept on my recent trips.

The next four photos are lists that Eve Anderson kept later in life, including during a trip to Zimbabwe in 1985. It seems list keeping is a lifelong joy!

Remember how I keep saying we make Charlotte Mason too hard? These pages remind me of this, because bird and flower lists are so easy. Even the youngest child can start keeping lists with mum writing them down. Do you have a list of birds that visit your bird feeder or your backyard? Make one. What flowers grow in your garden? Your local park? Your wildlife reserve? Take along a field guide and identify them. Write them in a list.

Lots of us procrastinate over lots of things in CM, but these lists are things you can start today. Take a look out of your window right now. What can you see? Even sparrows belong on a list. So do the weeds growing through the cracks in your driveway. They do have a use!!

Every notebook we looked at at the Armitt contained a bird and flower list, no matter how complete they were otherwise. Aren't you inspired now to keep one too?

More Lessons from the Armitt coming soon!

Find the start of the series for more lessons here.


Sailors Falls

Posted by Jeanne

When life gets too busy, like now, it's easy to let time outside slip as well. Don't you find that? It might be that we are too busy with bookwork with older kids, or with paid work, or even with work around the home. For us, the setting up of our business in its new location is sucking time from everything else, and the harder we work, the grumpier we become, despite our every effort to be delightful to each other and only speak kind, uplifting words of encouragement. Ahem.

This, of course, is when time outside in the beauty God's creation is the most important of all, and this Sunday we made time to visit Sailors Falls outside Daylesford on our way home from church.

Despite the fact that there wasn't much water in the Falls - I fear we might be heading for another drought - we felt instantly relaxed in this beautiful place, and I was reminded of this section in Ourselves:

Have you ever been in the fields on a spring day, and heard nothing at all but your own voice and the voices of your companions, and then, perhaps, suddenly you have become silent, and you find a concert going on of which you had not heard a note? At first you hear the voices of the birds; then, by degrees, you perceive high voices, low voices, and middle voices, small notes and great notes, and you begin to wish you knew who sang each of the songs you can distinguish.

Then, as you listen more, you hear more. The chirp of the grasshoppers becomes so noisy that you wonder you can hear yourself speak for it; then the bees have it all to themselves in your hearing; then you hear the hum or the trumpet of smaller insects, and perhaps the tinkle and gurgle of a stream. The quiet place is full of many sounds, and you ask yourself how you could have been there without hearing them.

Charlotte Mason, Ourselves p29-30

We only had time for a brief wander, but we walked in silence, all three of us, hand in hand, and just appreciated being a family and listening to the beautiful song of nature.

When we climbed back in the car we felt invigorated. Our batteries were recharged and our love tanks were full. The chatter in the car was much happier during the rest of the journey home.

My only concern about the whole experience stems from the fact that Jemimah's daddy has determined that next time we visit Sailors Falls we shall do so on foot from Daylesford. That's quite a walk. Driving there worked just fine for me.



Tea and Sugar Christmas

Posted by Jeanne

I bought this book sight unseen, based on the title and the name of the illustrator, but look how beautiful the cover is.  When I saw it, I thought it was a keeper, and it is.

To start with, it is a wonderful addition to a very sparse selection of really lovely Australian Christmas Picture Books.  There are some really fun books, of course, but few that really deserve the title of Living Book.  This one looks beautiful, is truly Australian, and is historically educational to boot.

It's the story of a young girl called Kathleen who lives in a settlement along the line of the Tea and Sugar Train, the train that travelled from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie across the Nullarbor Plain.   The train only travelled the line once a week, and it passed Kathleen's township on a Thursday.  Settlements along the track had no stores or services, so the train was truly a lifeline, bringing groceries, fresh meat, books, and mail from the outside world.  Once a year though, the Tea and Sugar Train, always a special occasion, become something magical.  Once a year it became the Christmas train, and along with the tea and sugar, Father Christmas travelled the line.

This week, Kathleen and her mum and dad had run out of tea and sugar, but it wasn't the groceries that they looked forward to, of course.  It was that jolly man with a blinding white beard and clothes of Christmas red.  Just like in the pictures.  What do you think happened next? Do you think Kathleen saw him?

 The pictures in the book are truly magnificent, fold out, double page coloured paintings interspersed with delightful pencil sketches.  I adore the authentic cutaway of the railway carriages, but each page is exquisite.  Jane Jolly, a new name to me, has written a sweet, historically correct, story, which really makes you wish that the Tea and Sugar still travelled the line and that you could go and visit it.  It did me, anyhow.  It is best for the 5-8 yo crowd as a story, but those illustrations transcend the ages.

Every Aussie needs a copy of this book.  Even those of you who prefer not to let the jolly fat man enter your home and unlikely to have issues with this one, I suspect.  Call it history or geography or something.  Or art.  Its all of these as well as a Christmas book. It is really special.

Tea and Sugar Christmas has just been released.  You can find it in any bookstore, I suspect, or order it online from Readings here.


Bits and Other Bits

Posted by Jeanne

:: Tonight my hubby and I am going out to dinner with my siblings and their spouses to Gladioli. We do this once a year, and it is always a total hoot. Have I told you how much I enjoy my family's company? Even better, mum is minding all the grand kids. Fun for them. Funnerer for us. Not so much fun for her. Yes, of course we will drink champagne.

:: Those of you who have followed A Peaceful Day for a few years will rejoice with me to hear that we moved our business into its brand new forever home this week. We've been almost four years in portable classrooms. Can you believe that? Yes, it's been almost four years since the flood.

The trauma counsellor that visited our town soon after it happened told us that a community generally takes seven years to recover from a natural disaster. In our case, I'd say he'll be spot on. Now that the business is on its way to being back on its feet, we can look at our home. Stay tuned for some exciting renovation photos in the coming year! Thank you, friends, for your ongoing support and encouragement, and...well...your friendship, I guess.

:: The books are starting to arrive for AO8. Isn't it exciting when parcels start arriving in the mailbox? Stay tuned for some book related posts in coming weeks.

Finding space for them is going to prove a challenge I fear. Even with a whole library of space, shelves still fill up. They breed, you know. That's true!

:: In the Book Bag, we're finally reading through the Harry Potter series as a family. We've just finished book 3, so we still have a nice lot to go. We are enjoying the storyline very much - it really keeps you on the edge of your seat - but I find Rowling's writing fairly simple, and I often adjust things when I read aloud. Things an editor should have changed, I reckon, like using the same word twice in one sentence, or ending all spoken parts with he said/she said. Now I get that some people don't like dialog tags, and I don't need he growled and he sneered and she chortled and they wailed, gasped or groaned, but can't Hermione exclaim once in a while, or Ron yell? Why do they even need to 'said' their questions? Can't they ask? Honestly, this drives me mad. Actually, it just makes me change them on the fly, but that sort of amounts to the same thing.

The DVDs may or may not be in someone's Christmas stocking, Jeanne said mysteriously.

:: Segueing naturally on from there, we started our Christmas shopping the other day. It appears that it's going to be a handcraft year for us, although there will be a few books under the tree as well. Of course. And jigsaws, I hope. I need to find a time to get to Spotlight in the next few weeks, or a certain someone will be 'awful disappointed'.

Do you have any handcrafts or books on your Christmas wish-list? Do your kids?


:: The ballet concerts are fast approaching. Jemimah takes several dance classes, as well as musical theatre, and so I'm spending my evenings and weekends sitting in the car outside the ballet studio. I'm happy to do that because she loves it so much, but it really takes a heap out of my time in what, for me, is the busiest time of the year.

On the plus side, it is giving me time for some blogging! It might be too early to speak, but I think I might be over my writer's block. I'm trying to stick to what I do best, Aussie info, and practical day-to-day things, and leaving the erudite clever stuff to those who do it better. CM researchy stuff has never really been my thing, and I think that's part of what's been causing me problems, trying to be something that I'm not.

Anyhow, that's about all around here. What's happening in your neck of the woods? Do tell. I love knowing what my friends are up to!



On finding a geology book

Posted by Jeanne

Can I in good conscience teach my daughter using this dull old geology book with its little, grainy black and white photos, that was published in 1929? Because I'm thinking I might. In fact, despite its age, or maybe because of it, I think this may be the perfect AO8 geology book for my daughter. Now before you click away to our friend Abe to search for a copy of your own, you need to be aware that it may not be the perfect book for you. In fact, unless you live in Australia, it probably won't be.

The most logical - and enjoyable way to study geology it to get outside, and look at what's under your feet. It's easier in the country, where the soil and rocks are easier to uncover, but even in the middle of big cities, a road cutting, the banks of an urban creek, or even a construction site will reveal much. If you go to several areas, you may even begin to see differences between them - natural formations, land usage, the rocks, cliffs or hills. All becomes tantalisingly interesting. The problem is, that it's hard to know what you're seeing. Purchasing a geological map doesn't help much either. What does Tertiary mean? Devonian? Silurian? To discover this, we really need to turn to books. Books and Things. Where have I heard that before?

One of the things that makes this old book, Open Air Studies in Australia by Frederick Chapman, perfect, is that it tells me about areas that I can go and visit and walk through and actually see and touch. It mentions Torquay, a beach 15 minutes from my mum's, the ancient dunes of the Mallee, near our home, the Dog Rocks at Batesford that we pass each weekend. Other locations are a drive away. Beaumaris, Lilydale, Sorrento. Admittedly, it would take a year long trip around Australia to cover all the places he mentions and describes, but there is enough close by to really bring alive the geology of our own region, and through it, the geology of the whole world, for while the book has been approached from an Aussie viewpoint, it is not entirely limited to this part of the earth's surface.

The other thing that makes it perfect is the era in which it was written. Some quotes, I think will show you what I mean here:

Surely the chief charm of the present stories is that while they are true they are not empty of romance, and as one reads one recalled those incomparable lines of Wordsworth:
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,The earth, and every common sight,To me did seemApparelled in celestial light,The glory and the freshness of a dream.(From the Foreword)
Even the most familiar objects met with day by day are often virtually unknown to us, though on closer acquaintance they may prove a source of intellectual pleasure, especially if we take the trouble to delve after some of these hidden secrets of nature.
To the earnest seeker "question will be followed by question," until he sees that
Earth's crammed with heaven,And every common bush afire with God.
But how comes the sand where we find it? Our answer lies on the foreshore. At each succeeding tide large quantities of shells and grit are thrown up from great depths of a fathom or two, by the great rollers which break harmlessly on the strand. The shells, along with other hard material, derived, it may be, from a rocky shore, are broken and ground upon one another, chiefly by the back wash of the waves until the shells and rock fragments become changed from shingle to smaller and more rounded fragments, and finally ground into sand, for
Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small.

What I hope these excerpts show you, is the literary language of the book, along with his respect for God. Now I'm not saying that Chapman was a Christian, there is no indication of that either way, but he does not denigrate those who believe, and that is incredibly difficult to find in geology books of recent times.

I've talked before of my issues with the age of our earth. Theologically, I'm young earth, but I struggle very much with young earth science. I'm afraid that I find it shoddy, and I hate bad science. Now I am confident that God is truth. Ultimately there will be no real disagreement between what God has revealed in his Word, and what is shown to be true about his creation. If there is a real conflict then the science is wrong. However, we must also be aware that while the Bible is inerrant, theologians are not. Christians made very big mistakes in their interpretation of Scripture during the time of Galileo; it is possible and likely that they also do so today. If there is disagreement between theologian and scientist, it is not always the scientist who is wrong.

Keeping that in mind, then, I am not 100% sure about the age of the earth, and at the very least I want Jemimah to feel comfortable knowing that there are very wonderful Christian men and women who think differently upon this age issue, and that's okay. For this reason, I am happy teaching geology from an old earth viewpoint, such as that contained in Open Air Studies in Australia, provided our faith is respected. That's what I see here, and I love it!!

So what am I going to do about the age of the book? Well, not much, I don't think. This will not be the only geology Jemimah will study at school. We can cover advances in science later. We can look at plate tectonics as a stand alone topic, if necessary. We will purchase an up-to-date geological map of Victoria, and we will look at a current geological timeline and make note of where the events written about are said to have occurred. It is possible that the ages are correct, after all. We will keep an ear open for current events covering geological topics. We will read the geological information boards when we visit National Parks and areas of interest. At the end of it all, I may have taught my daughter some out-of-date science, but I don't really mind that much, because I believe that when she finishes reading this book she will be more aware of the amazingness of God's creation, and if she has questions to answer and gaps to fill then she has a whole life ahead of her to fill them. My job is merely to light the spark, after all.

Unsurprisingly, the book is out of print. There are quite a few copies available at Abe if you want to join us.


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