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

Shakespeare and poetry

Posted by Jeanne


A great video for AO7 Grammar of Poetry students. And for the rest of you that love the Bard.



The book bag

Posted by Jeanne

We're just about to change a couple of books in the book bag, and so I thought it might be a good time for a post, only to discover that  haven't posted about what's in our bag for almost two years.  That's bad.

For the benefit of those of you that have joined us in that time, I am a self confessed read-aloud tragic, and since the number of opportunities to read Jemimah's school books to her has diminished as her reading ability has increased, the value of my precious book bag has grown. In it are five books that I've carefully selected to read aloud to my family during our regular 7 hour round trip commute every weekend.  You can get through a lot of pages in 7 hours, and together our family has a lovely set of group memories from the long list of books that we've read together.

Generally I select the five books from 5 different genres: must-read literature, Christian literature, popular science, fantasy, and Australian literature. Our books right now don't quite reflect that, since we're finishing up with one Christian book, and just starting a new one, just in time to coincide with its history period in AO, but that's the aim.

If you would like to hear about what we're reading, here they are.

From the bottom:

David Copperfield by Dickens needs no introduction, I'm sure.  It's a carry over from AO7, where it is a free read. We're currently a little over a third of the way through, and we're enjoying it more now that David's life isn't quite so dismal.  Those first few chapters are so lovely and tranquil with their reflections on early life, but the next bit is just so hopeless, and filled with despair. We were so happy when he met up with Betsey Trotwood and life became at least a little more tolerable.  Ours is a lovely Folio edition, which makes it a pleasure to read, with its thick creamy and lovely formatting.

The Betrayal is an historical fiction biography of John Calvin by Douglas Bond.  This book is sort of an additional AO8 History book for us, since we want to concentrate more on the Reformation than the curriculum allows, but since it is in the book bag, I don't think Jemimah has noticed that it is a school book. Heh heh heh.  We have only just started, so I can't tell you how we like it, but we read the John Knox book in the same series last year and enjoyed it, so we have high hopes.

Both my husband and I adored The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner as children, and so we really needed to introduce Jemimah to it as well.  It's a rule.  It's a book filled with wizards, goblins and other creatures, and if the weirdstone, which hangs on the bracelet that young Susan wears around her wrist, should fall into the hands of the morthbrood, the world will be powerless against Nastrong, the Great Spirit of Darkness. It's a thrilling fantasy adventure.  If you haven't read it, you really, really should.  Weirdstone is first in a trilogy.  The third book was written only a few years ago; Weirdstone itself was written in 1960.

Why Aren't We Dead Yet by Aussie author, Idan Ben-Barak, is a witty introduction to our immune system and how we fight off infections.  It is absolutely fascinating, and is highly recommended to everybody except the anti-vax brigade, who probably won't like it at all.  This is what science books are supposed to be like.

Finally,  How Sleep the Brave by James Hunter. My favourite. It's a wonderful tale of action, adventure and romance, as well as good Reformed Presbyterian teaching, and tells the story of the suffering and perseverance of the Covenanters during the Killing Times in 17th Century Scotland. Those of you AO Forum gals who are reading Josephine Tey's The Story of Time might enjoy to read this one to get the opposite side of the story to that presented in Chapter 10 of Tey's book.You will learn what suffering for one's faith is all about.  This is real heroism. I love this book and can't recommend it highly enough.

So, here endeth the book bag for today.  Our bedtime Newbery read is Holes by Louis Sachar; Jemimah is reading Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster.  Both are great.

What are you reading aloud right now with your kidlets? Do you love it as much as I do? Do tell.


Characteristics of the centuries

Posted by Jeanne


I added this helpful Characteristics of the Centuries chart to the back of my Book of Centuries today.

It comes from this Parents Review article on the teaching of chronology, written by Dorothea Beale. We don't know if Ms Beale's chart was ever taken up by Miss Mason, or her schools, but since Miss Mason was editor of the Magazine, and other ideas from the article were adopted, we can assume that she at least thought a chart of this type was a good idea. I do too.

Ms Beale says this:

I would place before the child a map, in which the eighteen Christian centuries are brought together thus on a small scale with some characteristic to give it individuality.

I wonder why she said 18? At any rate, I have twenty. I haven't added the 21st - it's a little early to identify a characteristic for this present century yet, isn't it? The 20th Century is a different matter. More than 120 years have passed since Miss Beale wrote her article, and the century that was yet to be, now forms part of history.

So help me. What should we call the 20th Century, do you think? World Wars? Information Technology? Help me fill the blank space. What would you put there? Please help!




From my Book of Firsts

Posted by Jeanne

It is a capital plan for the children to keep a calendar––the first oak-leaf, the first tadpole, the first cowslip, the first catkin, the first ripe blackberries, where seen, and when. The next year they will know when and where to look out for their favourites, and will, every year, be in a condition to add new observations. Think of the zest and interest, the object, which such a practice will give to daily walks and little excursions.

Charlotte Mason, Home Education p. 54

Jemimah and I both made the first entry in our Book of Firsts today, and what a perfect first entry it was.

It was delicious. Imagine a sweet nectarine fresh from the tree, so perfectly ripe that the warm juice runs down your arm as you eat, making you all sticky, but happy to be alive. The simple pleasures really are the best, aren't they?

I purchased our Books of Firsts from Red Mountain Community School, and I just love it. You can find yours here.




As you like it

Posted by Jeanne

"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel,
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose well saved a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again towards childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness, and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."

Every January, our family likes to attend Ozact's summer Shakespeare production in Geelong's Botanic Garden.

Ozact is one of a number of companies performing William Shakespeare's plays in outdoor park settings around Victoria, but it is our favourite because of the way they manage to make the plays accessible and entertaining, whilst still being true to the Bard's intent.  I love the way Ozact appeals to all ages without dumbing down and simplifying the works, and I love the way they subtly convey the bawdiness of Shakespeare without deteriorating into crudeness and crassness. Adults know what is going on; kids have no idea.  That is really clever.  The pays are performed in period costume, the settings are great, and we always have a pretty amazing time.

The 2015 season is Ozact's 20th Anniversary, and the troupe celebrated with a performance of what is probably Shakespeare's most delicious comedy, As You Like It.

As you know, Shakespeare's plots are always pretty convoluted, and As You Like It is no different, a tale of mistaken identities, exiled lovers, true friendship and political intrigue. Ozact manages to encapsulate the whole of the play's plot in what is possibly the most succinct Shakespeare synopsis I have ever seen:

Rosalind follows her father, Duke Senior into exile in the Forest of Arden.  Disguised as a boy she makes friends with her true love, Orlando, and through many twists and turns, sees her father restored to his rightful place and wins her place in Orlando's heart.

We always make a real event of our visit, packing a delicious picnic lunch, with an obligatory bottle of champagne. We like to make it a really special occasion.

And Shakespeare? He, indeed, is not to be classed, and timed, and treated as one amongst others,––he, who might well be the daily bread of the intellectual life; Shakespeare is not to be studied in a year; he is to be read continuously throughout life, from ten years old and onwards. But a child of ten cannot understand Shakespeare. No; but can a man of fifty? Is not our great poet rather an ample feast of which every one takes according to his needs, and leaves what he has no stomach for? A little girl of nine said to me the other day that she had only read one play of Shakespeare's through, and that was A Midsummer Night's Dream. She did not understand the play, of course, but she must have found enough to amuse and interest her.

Charlotte Mason Formation of Character p.226

Shakespeare is scary to some kids...and possibly to their parents also...but we've always loved him.  If you haven't yet attempted the Bard, here are a few hints that work for us:

:: Shakespeare can be pretty expensive.  Look round to see what is available.  Often summer seasons in outdoor settings are cheaper, as well as being more approachable and friendly.  If your kids can't stay completely quiet for the length of a performance, an outdoor play is for you, because the actors and audience will generally be tolerant of a bit of noise.

:: Choose your play.  Shakespeare wrote historical pays and tragedies as well as comedies.  A comedy is your best choice if you are a newbie. Often the lines are blurred - there will almost always be some comedy in Shakespeare, but tragedy often overshadows that. A few Shakespeare plays are inappropriate for children. Coriolanus would not be a sensible first play. Ahem.

:: Find a good company. Try to find one that hasn't been too modernised if you can.  Be especially careful that your chosen company doesn't concentrate on the bawdiness.  Some of them specialise in this, and if so, they're probably not your first choice.

:: Prepare well. We always get an overview of the plot by re-reading the story in Lamb's Shakespeare before we go.  It help put everything in contact, and means that we know who the characters are before we arrive.  We also run through some of the famous lines.  It is sort of fun hearing these spoken by the actors later on:

“Do you not know I am a woman? when I think, I must speak.”

“All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

:: Finally, go expecting to enjoy it. Your child may not understand everything, and maybe you won't either, but chances are that like Miss Mason says, you will all take what you need and leave what you have no stomach for. Shakespeare truly is a delicious feast.  I'm sure you'll find plenty enough to enjoy.

A bottle of champagne always helps as well.


At the beach

Posted by Jeanne

There is little that makes me as blissfully happy as watching my daughter and her daddy playing together at the beach. This annual visit to the Point Lonsdale rockpools, along with the elaborate 'dribble castle', always bigger and better than the ones that have gone before, has become part of our never changing Christmas-holiday-at-Grandma's tradition, and we all just adore it.

We are creatures of habit, and so we always go to the same beach, order the same King George Whiting with chips for lunch, visit the same second-hand bookshop to make mummy happy, and always always build that sand castle.  That's the royal we.  They build, I watch.  Masterly inactivity, I call it.  Oh, we always have an ice-cream as well. It just wouldn't be right if we didn't have ice-cream.

Here I am, hard at work. I am a supervisor.  Every team needs a supervisor.

 It's a hard life, but somebody has to do it.

And yes, I did buy some books. Wanna know which ones?


Happy New Year and Hi

Posted by Jeanne

Happy 2015, dear friends.

We are back at school. AO8. How can my baby be in AO8? That is just wrong.

Are you hard back at it now too? What year are your little cherubs in in 2015? Are they growing up faster than it ever seems possible to believe as well?

I'll be back with a proper post soon, but I just wanted to say hi to you all. Because you are my friends.

So hi. xx


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