April 28, 2006

Poetry Friday: Four years, four dream variations by Langston Hughes

by Langston Hughes (1923)

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Dream Variations
by Langston Hughes (1924)

To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
Dark like me --
That is my dream!

To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening...
A tall, slim tree...
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.

The Dream Keeper
by Langston Hughes (1925)

Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamers,
Bring me all of your
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world.

Water-Front Streets
by Langston Hughes (1926)

The spring is not so beautiful there --
But dream ships sail away
To where the spring is wondrous rare
And life is gay.

The spring is not so beautiful there --
But lads put out to sea
Who carry beauties in their hearts
And dreams, like me.

For more Poetry Friday fun, round up the usual suspects, beginning with instigator Big A little a! Hope to add the other links, maybe tonight. We're off and running now...

A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants

Just a quick note, since we're in between birthdays -- my lovely cake with the yellow roses is all gone, and I'm making Daniel's tonight for his big "lucky seven" day tomorrow -- not to mention off to town to run some quick errands and make it home in time for lunch before our semi-annual homeschool facilitator visit; under Alberta's homeschooling legislation, homeschooling families are required to register with a school board (some of which, as ours does, specialize in home education), which then assigns us a facilitator, a certified teacher.

Ours is a former teacher, still certified, and currently home educating father, and doesn't mind at all that we see him only the required twice yearly and don't feel the need to ask him any questions other than, "What time will you be here?" Mr. Smith is coming to check on our efforts and progress since his last visit in the fall, an opportunity all three kids see as unparalleled for a Show & Tell/Let's Put on a Show extravaganza, complete with singing, dancing, poetry recitations, an exhibit of our new pets (snails from the pond in a jar), and, if I overheard correctly, some trick riding on horseback if they can get him outside. If it's like all his other visits, poor Mr. Smith will leave here not knowing what hit him.

April 25, 2006

Read to me this morning by child number two

from The Happy Birthday Present by Joan Heilbroner, pictures by Mary Chalmers (An I Can Read book):
"Davy," said Peter.

"Do you know what day it is?"

"Yes, I do," said Davy.

"It is today."

"No, silly," said Peter.

"It is Mother's birthday."

"We must tell her!" said Davy.

"She knows," said Peter.

"I am going to get a present for her," said Peter.

"May I come with you?" asked Davy.

"Will you be good?" asked Peter.

"I will," said Davy.

"Come on, then," said Peter.

"Is this [the toy store] where I get my present?" asked Davy.

"No, Davy," said Peter.

"It is not your birthday. It is Mother's birthday. We are going to get a present for her."

"Oh!" said Davy.

"What do you think Mother would like?" asked Peter.

"A dump truck," said Davy.

"Mother does not want a dump truck!" said Peter.

"Roller skates?" asked Davy. ...
And so day two of our birthday bonanza week continues. The celebration began yesterday, with a bit of a party for Daniel, whose birthday is on the weekend, after homeschool Gym Day, always one of the month's highlights for the kids. Daniel treated everyone to some Secret Special chocolate chip cookies (made by adding two spoonfuls of cocoa and one cup of mini M&Ms to the recipe on the back of the bag) and juice, more than welcome after an hour and a half of running, bouncing, and leaping. And Daniel, old soul that he is at almost seven, was able to enjoy some more time around the 11- and 12-year-old boys...

Today is supposed to include a bit of schoolwork, a tadpole safari, lots of sunshine and some gardening (made possible in all this warm, dry weather with the wonderful present of a new hose reel), a few remaining preparations for our all-afternoon homeschool facilitator meeting on Friday afternoon, a cake with chocolate whipped cream, and some surprises...

And many happy returns to Carol Burnett, John James Audubon, Frederic Law Olmstead, Bernard Malamud, and Anita Loos (Happy Birthday indeed!).

A new lap dog for George

From today's Globe & Mail:
The media will be banned from CFB Trenton today when the bodies of four Canadian soldiers killed over the weekend in Afghanistan return home.

The decision to mirror a practice that is controversial in the United States follows an announcement on Sunday that the flag on the Peace Tower will not be flown at half-mast to mark the deaths.
Take that, you nattering Canadian nabobs of negativism.

And only a hopeless cynic would see any connection.

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is open for business

at The Common Room, at heartkeepercommonroom.blogspot.com. Many thanks to the Headmistress for a wonderful job, especially despite all of the pesky technological obstructions.

By the way, while you're there, don't miss the Headmistress's basic tutorial on a Charlotte Mason education from earlier this month.

As always, you can find the archives to the previous homeschooling carnivals here.

April 23, 2006

New Math + 30 (Years) = Reform Math = Still Fuzzy After All These Years

Squeaking in before the end of Math Awareness Month....

As a former victim of the old New Math -- I still remember my father the Oxford graduate looking over some incomprehensible homework and telling me, "You're on your own, dear" -- I'm a bit sensitive when it comes to math and arithmetic instruction, knowing full well the ramifications of a lousy, fuzzy job. It was the subject I spent the most time researching when we decided to homeschool Laura two years ago, because I knew I wanted a program that would give her, and then the boys, a solid foundation in the basics. After looking at Saxon Math, the choice of many homeschoolers but a tad heavy-handed for Laura at the time, I ended up choosing Singapore Math, with a bit of Math-U-See thrown in from time to time. Not for nothing that in my spare time I read books like Knowing and Teaching Elementary Math by Liping Ma or track down Canadian vendors of Developmental Math.

Which is why Joanne Jacobs's post, "Mathless in Seattle", about a Seattle Post-Intelligencer article last week, "Seattle's teaching of math adds up to much confusion: Where 2+2 gets sticky", got my attention.
Like many Seattle schools, [Rick Burke's] daughter's school was teaching "reform" math, a style that encourages students to discover math principles and derive formulas themselves. Burke, an engineer, worried that his daughter wasn't learning basic math skills.
And, shades of the Alberta Program of Studies,
Reform math also emphasizes estimating and being able to analyze whether the answer derived is correct and reasonable. Students are urged to use calculators from an early age, "because as adults, that's how we do it -- we either do mental math or use a calculator," said Ruth Balf, who teaches fourth and fifth grade at Olympic View Elementary.
Not so coincidentally, according to The Post-Intelligencer, "Colleges have been seeing a rise in the number of freshmen who have to take remedial math courses, feeding into the growing concern that the United States is losing its edge in math." And it's not just the United States, my friends. If you don't believe The Post-Intelligencer, believe erstwhile college math instructor, MoebiusStripper, who blogs at Tall, Dark and Mysterious. Read it, especially this and this, and weep. MS is particularly scathing on the subject of calculators in elementary and high school, to which I can say only, huzzah.

What saddens me is that educrats have gained precious little understanding, conceptual or otherwise, from the results of the first go-round of New Math, and even less since the 1989 release of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) standards. These standards have concerned responsible, right-thinking mathematicians, math teachers, parents, and more than a few states for over 15 years, and yet "the math wars" continue. The good news? According to The Post-Intelligencer, "In Seattle, schools have a lot of autonomy in how they teach math. The district has adopted textbooks and provides guidelines and timelines for teachers to follow, but doesn't require them to do so. In fact, the district doesn't keep track of what style of math teachers are using." Some Washington State parents with a beef with Reform Math have banded together at Where's The Math?, and a particularly informative article on their website is "A Brief History of American K-12 Mathematics Education" by David Klein. Great good luck to the families in Seattle, where textbook adoption has been postponed until next January. May the new year bring some not-so-New Math.

But let's not forget the possible bad news -- sitting around in nursing homes, waiting for our pension and Social Security checks administered by dolts who can't function without a calculator (here's hoping their computers never crash and their batteries never wear out), not to mention living at the mercy of doctors and nurses who didn't quite master the math. "Hmmm, how many cc's of morphine was that supposed to be?" Let's just hope they learned to read with phonics instead of whole language and can tell "Morphine" apart from "Motrin" on the label.

Additional reading: check the the Article Index for Where's the Math? and the Site Index for Mathematically Correct; Mathematically Correct's list of Web Links of Interest alone should keep one busy until that room at the nursing home is ready.

Growing with Grammar, now in Canada

Just received the latest homeschool curriculum catalogue from the folks at Academic Distribution Services (ADS) in B.C. and am delighted to see that they now carry Growing with Grammar/Grade 3, on page 19, and at a price of $37.50 CAN (for the student manual, workbook, and answer key), which compares very, very favorably with the GWG website price of $29.99 US.

While GWG isn't on the ADS website yet, you can request a free catalogue here or by calling 1-800-276-0078. Worth noting is the annual Spring sale on now until the end of June, which features no GST and free shipping on orders over $200. This is when I usually stock up on Singapore math and Explode the Code workbooks.

No, I don't get a commission from GWG (or ADS), but author Tamy Davis, a homeschooling mother of two, is a friend, and, most importantly, with three kids I have a vested interest in a rigorous, enjoyable, and secular grammar program. My full, pleased-as-punch review from November still stands, and Laura and I are both looking forward to the release of the new Grade 4 material in the fall.

April 22, 2006

Hello, Moon, Hello, Hurds

If you and your family happen to find yourselves in Rhode Island in the next couple of months, stop by the Rhode Island School of Design Museum for "The World of Clement, Edith and Thacher Hurd: From Goodnight Moon to Art Dog". The exhibition, which opened yesterday, begins with a 17-foot-long mural of the Great Green Room and also includes a life-size version of the little red car from Art Dog for children to climb aboard.

If you can get to Rhode Island before July 23, the museum has also organized reading sessions and other programs for children; there's a schedule of related events to download. If you can't get away, you can watch the Museum website's audio slideshow.

The RISD Museum stop is the final one for the exhibition, which was organized by the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont, another very worthwhile holiday stop, and right next door to Shelburne Farms, one of our favorite places for a busman's holiday. Oops, rabbit trail...

More on Clement Hurd, Edith Thacher Hurd, and Thacher Hurd, thanks to the wonderful Children's Literature Network website.

Happy day, earth

O Earth, Turn!
by George Johnston

The little blessed Earth that turns
Does so on its own concerns
As though it weren't my home at all;
It turns me winter, summer, fall
Without a thought of me.

I love the slightly flattened sphere,
Its restless, wrinkled crust's my here,
Its slightly wobbling spin's my now
But not my why and not my how:
My why and how are me.

(from The New Wind Has Wings: Poems from Canada, edited by Mary Alice Downie and Barbara Robertson, and illustrated by Elizabeth Cleaver)

And don't forget to download your free Happy Earth Day coloring book, thanks to, erm, the EPA.

April 21, 2006

More Poetry Friday fun

Quick -- hop over to Fuse #8 for a wonderful recommendation and review from my favorite New York City children's librarian. Fuse #8 calls A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms, edited by Paul Janeczko and illustrated by Chris Raschka, "the most useful of poetry tomes I've found in quite some time":
It's a truly interesting collection of poetic forms done in such a way that kids will not only understand them, but want to write some of their own. ...

The book contains twenty-nine different poetic forms. Everything from your basic haikus and limericks to triolets, aubades, and pantoums. There are blues poems and clerihews, and even the rare riddle poem or two. [But not the au courant Fib, no doubt...] Janeczko has culled the most amusing and child-friendly versions of these forms possible, and it works.
It sounds wonderful -- something to request from interlibrary loan as soon as possible and add to our ever-growing list of poetry books and other materials.

Even better, Fuse #8 discovered the book while preparing some Poetry Month selections and activities for the homeschool book group she runs -- NYC homeschoolers and holidaymakers, take note! And run to the Donnell's Central Children's Room, headquarters of the delightful Fuse #8 and her companions, Winnipeg native Winnie the Pooh and daily friends, and Mary Poppins's umbrella.

Poetry Friday: Lines for my children now that the grass is greening up...

and our school moves outdoors:

"Lines Written for Gene Kelly to Dance To"
by Carl Sandburg

Spring is when the grass turns green and glad.
Spring is when the new grass comes up and says, "Hey, hey!
Hey, hey!"
Be dizzy now and turn your head upside down and see how
the world looks upside down.
Be dizzy now and turn a cartwheel, and see the good earth
through a cartwheel.

Tell your feet the alphabet.
Tell your feet the multiplication table.
Tell your feet where to go, and, and watch 'em go and come back.

Can you dance a question mark?
Can you dance an exclamation point?
Can you dance a couple of commas?
And bring it to a finish with a period?

Can you dance like the wind is pushing you?
Can you dance like you are pushing the wind?
Can you dance with slow wooden heels
and then change to bright and singing silver heels?
Such nice feet, such good feet.

(from Rainbows Are Made: Poems by Carl Sandburg, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, with wood engravings by Fritz Eichenberg)

April 20, 2006

Power to the people

The other day Susan at Chicken Spaghetti posted a link for a School Library Journal article on questioning authority, with the quote, "Kids need to be skeptical of the curriculum. It’s the only way to develop a balanced view of the world." Which of course was like dangling a chocolate truffle in front of me. So I hopped over to read "Question Authority" by Glenn DeVoogd and was...sorely disappointed. Too disappointed even to complain about it here, which is why I was delighted to see that Horn Book editor-in-chief Roger Sutton over at Read Roger (and please, read Read Roger) decided to question authority by questioning "Question Authority":
it seems that DeVoogd isn't so much interested in getting kids to think for themselves as he is in getting them to see the world the same way he does. ... [I]f I were in charge of the curriculum, the first thing the kids would be learning is that irony is always waiting to bite you in the ass.
DeVoogd starts off well:
Teaching kids to second-guess everything they read isn’t easy—in fact, it’s downright controversial. After all, our educational culture promotes sitting back and soaking up information. Sure, it’s easier to continue thinking that teaching is just about kids, books, and skills. But it’s a lot more than that—it’s about teaching them to be analytical thinkers. It’s our duty to teach kids to ask serious questions about the authority of the words they read. Our schools need to teach that being skeptical of the curriculum is acceptable."
(Which was one of my concerns about the library list situation in California. But I digress.) But then he veers off toward his real destination, undesirable "social and political influences," by which he means political correctness. And takes a flying leap toward his conclusion: "Ultimately, the goal of critical literacy is to create a more equitable, just world." When, in fact, true critical thinking is not taking a sentence like that at face value. Because ultimately, the goal of critical literacy, and responsible school librarians, is to create thoughtful people who ask questions, regardless of what the answers are. And they're not limited to asking questions about the low points in American history, either. A true student of logic, enriched with a lively curiosity, a healthy skepticism, and solid research skills, turns his or her gaze to science, mathematics, literature and language, and the arts, as well. I also hope that by the time my kids are ready to graduate from our little farm school, they'll understand that sometimes a cow is just a cow.

P.S. Like Roger, I didn't care much for DeVoogd bibliography (sample item, Developing Critical Consciousness in an Age of Oppression), so here are some other suggestions, for fifth graders on up to parents and other adults, with the proviso that I haven't read or used them all. A wander through The Critical Thinking Press and Prufrock Press (no, your child doesn't need to be gifted and talented to make use of their products, just bright and motivated) websites yields all sorts of titles.

A Case of Red Herrings: Solving Mysteries through Critical Questioning, published by Critical Thinking Press

Critical Thinking series, by Anita Harnadek, published by Critical Thinking Press

Prufrock Press (formerly Dandy Lion Logic) books by Bonnie Risby, such as Logic Countdown, Logic Liftoff, Logic Orbit, Logic Safari

Mind Benders series, published by Critical Thinking Press

Cranium Crackers series, by Anita Harnadek, published by Critical Thinking Press

Critical Thinking in United States History series, by Kevin O'Reilly, published by Critical Thinking Press; a friend has used this with her kids and recommends the series highly. To me it seems like a terrific substitute for DeVoogd's own volume.

The Art of Reasoning by David Kelley; an introductory college logic text that can be used at the high school level

Philosophy: Themes and Thinkers by J.W. Phelan, published by Cambridge University Press

Critical Thinking: An Introduction by Alec Fisher, published by Cambridge University Press

Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student by Edward P.J. Corbett and Robert J. Connors, published by Oxford University Press

Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students by Sharon Crowley and Debra Hawhee

Everything's an Argument: With Readings by Andrea A. Lunsford and John J. Ruszkiewicz

Evidence by Robert P. Newman and Dale R. Newman

An Introduction to Rhetorical Communication: A Western Historical Perspective by James C. McCroskey

Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking by D.Q. McInerny

The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction by Wayne Booth

The Rhetoric of Fiction by Wayne Booth

And a fun tidbit, for you or your high school student:

Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer, with a foreward by Stephen Jay Gould; Shermer is the director of The Skeptics Society

The croc hunters

Not that kind. After farm chores yesterday, the kids and I went looking for this, the prairie crocus (Anemone patens), considerably more fuzzy than its Dutch cousin. We went to the one pasture yesterday where they like to grow and found that the crocuses are up, but not yet blooming. At the moment they look rather like newly hatched robins, all wrinkly and bunched up and straining up toward the sun. The photo shows what they should look like by the weekend.

April 18, 2006

Make mine pecan pie

Three cheers for Bloglines! I was thrilled to see that long-lost Natalie surfaced today with news on the opening of The Homeschool Cafe: four Mississipi magnolias -- Natalie, Nancy, Alasandra, and Lioness -- holding forth on politics, educational issues, and general discussion. They promise that the coffee is always on and the desserts are calorie-free. Definitely calorie-free but yummy are all the terrific offerings on view in the sidebar, from organizational tools to book reviews. And thank you kindly for including Farm School in The Gallery.

Dream on

A friend wrote me about Richard Morin's "Unconventional Wisdom" column in last Friday's Washington Post. You decide if the study qualifies as either unconventional or wisdom.
"Learning the Wrong Things from Poetry"

Fill your house with books if you want little Billy or Beth to grow
up to be an academic all-star. Shakespeare is good. But stay away
from poetry -- books of poesy on your shelves may dumb down your

A research team headed by demographer Jonathan Kelley, of Brown
University and the University of Melbourne, analyzed data from a
study of scholastic ability in 43 countries, including the United
States. The data included scores on a standardized achievement test
in 2000 and detailed information that parents provided about the
family. The average student scored 500 on this test.

The researchers found that a child from a family having 500 books at
home scored, on average, 112 points higher on the achievement test
than one from an otherwise identical family having only one book --
and that's after they factored in parents' education, occupation,
income and other things typically associated with a child's academic
performance. The findings were presented last month at the annual
meeting of the Population Association of America in Los Angeles.

Of course, it's not the number of books in the home that boosts
student performance -- it's what they represent. The researchers say
a big home library reflects the parents' dedication to the life of
the mind, which probably nurtures scholastic accomplishment in their

They also found that not all books are created equal. "Having
Shakespeare or similar highbrow books about bodes well for
children's achievement," they wrote. "Having poetry books around is
actively harmful by about the same amount," perhaps because it
signals a "Bohemian" lifestyle that may encourage kids to become
guitar-strumming, poetry-reading dreamers.
Darn. And here two kids are taking piano lessons and the third wants to play the banjo.

By the way, I don't suppose anyone pointed out to the researchers that all those highbrow books by Shakespeare contain an awful lot of verse? Never mind...

Step right up, to the Carnival of Homeschooling, Week 16

The latest Carnival of Homeschooling is up, at About Homeschooling (homeschooling.about.com) today. The theme for this week is "Practical Solutions for Homeschool Struggles." Thanks, Beverly!

If you need to catch up on your reading, archives from the previous Carnivals of Homeschooling are here.

Next week's Carnival will be hosted by The Common Room, (heartkeeper.commonroom.blogspot.com).

April 17, 2006

I want one too...

L. at Schola has a "portable schoolhouse" for their upcoming trip to New Zealand. She writes that "it's beautiful in an obsessive-compulsive kind of way, the girls' three 5" binders containing notebooks, sketchbooks, mini whiteboards, and drawing and writing supplies, and mine with its study guides, answer keys, CDs, and even more supplies."

As someone who has spent the past 30 years pining for T. Anthony's leather book travelling/carrying case (though it doesn't seem to be in the current stock list), how can I resist the idea of a portable schoolhouse?

Read the rest of L.'s entry for her thoughts on winnowing down the selection of books -- Charlotte Mason, Strunk & White, William Zinsser? -- and exploring NZ by VW bus.

April 15, 2006

Happy Easter early

A happy Easter to all.

The kids colored close to four dozen eggs today (yes, we'll be enjoying devilled eggs and egg salad sandwiches for the next while): regular old tablet dyes (from Dudley, similar to the Paas variety in the U.S.); bunnysaurus eggs, as Daniel called them, with a bit of vegetable oil added to half of the tablet dye mixtures, to make a second swirly coat; and the Ukrainian eggs. They all turned out beautifully. At one point, right after the Dudley eggs, the kids discovered the piece of paper towel I had given each one had become rather attractive, so the next half hour was dedicated to more artistic efforts with dye and paper towels, and even with some watercolor paper Laura deigned to share from her own stash.

Then she dug out all of the tissue paper and the copy of Usborne's Things to Make and Do With Paper, so we are now surrounded by masses of gorgeous Easter blossoms (pages 12-13, Tissue Paper Flowers). These have joined the pussy willows we cut the other day and the pink tulips from the supermarket for a very seasonal display on the buffet.

The eggs are now safely in the fridge, the flowers on the kitchen table along with a plate of carrots for the Easter Bunny. The kids are ready to burst with excitement over the surprise they've been planning for the past few weeks and hiding in Laura's room. And I'm waiting for the sound of steady breathing before filling the plastic eggs for tomorrow's hunt. Tom will distribute them around the yard at about 5:30 am, when he goes out to check the heifers (four are awfully close to calving). Though the kids have promised us that they're sleeping until 9. Unless the lure of the chocolates and jellybeans is just way too strong.

April 14, 2006

A little something for Poetry Friday...

and for Melissa, on the arrival of new baby girl.

by Eleanor Farjeon

"Come!" cried Helen, eager Helen.
"Time enough," said careful Ann.
But oh, the lilac-buds were swelling
And all the birds had started telling --
"Listen! look!" cried eager Helen,
Pointing where the spring began.
"Well, and what of that," said Ann.
"Something's happening -- oh, let's go!"
"When it happens we shall know."
"Ah, but that's so slow!" cried Helen,
"Come on, come!" cried eager Helen.
"Time enough," said Ann.
"I must go!" "And I will wait. You'll be too soon." "You'll be too late!"
"Who knows?" said Ann. "Come on!" cried Helen,
And ran and ran and ran.

(For more Friday poetry fun, check Big A little a and A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy)

Luscious links, or, an Easter basket of treats for adults

Lots of wonderful things to read this weekend:

Stefanie at So Many Books has a terrific piece on the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest, which encourages high school students to memorize and perform great poems, and the recent NPR piece on it. Rather like a poetry bee, in that the state winners wind up in Washington next month to compete nationally. The website includes a Teacher's Guide to download and an extensive online anthology. Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by The National Endowment for the Arts, The Poetry Foundation, and state arts agencies. I love the sound of Poetry Out Loud, and especially poetry out loud.

By the way, today's featured poet on the POL website is Donald Hall, and his chosen poem is "Ox-Cart Man", the picture book version of which is one of our very favorite readalouds.

A Fuse #8's review of the day is I'm Not Cute! by Jonathan Allen about a baby owl who would rather be considered a huge, sleek hunting machine rather than cute, which hits very close to home here, where several people would rather be considered big, strong, and brave rather than small, cuddly, and adorable.

Kelly at Big A little a, who celebrated a birthday yesterday, gives a glowing review to the words and pictures (and glossary!) of the new picture book, The Boy Who Loved Words. She also thoughtfully recommends Word Wizard by Cathryn Falwell as "a great readaloud companion."

"Unusual Punctuation and Grammar Lessons", Crissy at Classical Home's list of pet peeves. Crissy also asks that important question, "Si Cuniculus Paschalis sit, unde ova capiat?" (If he's the Easter Bunny, where does he get the eggs?)

And -- this seems an appropriate place to end this post -- Camille at Bookmoot has a round-up of children's books about the Titanic, which sank on this date in 1912.

Reminder for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

The call for submissions for the next Carnival of Homeschooling is out.

In case you're wondering, the next Carnival will be hosted by Beverly at About Homeschool, at homeschooling.about.com, next Tuesday, April 18th.

Submissions are due by 6 p.m. on the Monday before, but earlier submissions -- especially in light of the holiday weekend -- will be greatly appreciated.

Another baby in the Bonny Glen

Heartfelt congratulations and all best wishes to Melissa and Scott, parents of a new little baby girl, born at home just after nine this morning (Eastern Standard Time).

And many thanks to Alice for spreading the news.

April 13, 2006

Telling Fibs, in a big way

My pal Greg at GottaBook-- so that's what you look like! -- who started all the Fib Foolery on, natch, April Fool's Day, has seen his fun....spiral.

Yesterday the Germans (who said they have no sense of humor?), today the world. Okay, would you settle for The New York Times*? Pretty neat, we think. It's not often that we Farm Schoolers are this close to the beginning of a trend. It's almost dizzying. Many, many thanks again to Greg for starting all the fun, and may this be the beginning of a successful adventure!

*If you haven't already registered to read The Times for free, you can use Bug Me Not.

April 12, 2006

It's Beverly Cleary's birthday -- drop everything and read, dears!

Beverly Cleary turns 90 today, and many happy returns from Farm School on this very special occasion; I've long considered Mrs. Cleary an old friend, since about the time that Ramona Quimby and I were the same age. In honor of this red letter day, by the way, HarperCollins and a few other organizations, including (grumble, grumble) the NEA, are celebrating Drop Everything and Read Day. The resource page has some good ideas.

To celebrate the day, read to your kids, perhaps some of Beverly Cleary's best, and later on, on your own time, you can't do better than her memoir, A Girl from Yamhill:
Suddenly I was reading and enjoying what I read! I was happy in a way I had not been happy since starting school. I read all afternoon until I had finished the book. Then I began The Swiss Twins. For once Mother postponed bedtime, until I finished the book.

Shortly after my discovery that grown-ups spoke the truth when they said reading was a pleasure...
Well, you'll have to read the book to discover the rest.

And check out A Fuse #8 Production for the link to the recent NPR interview with Mrs. Cleary and a beautiful photograph of her at nearly 90.

UPDATE: Jen at her Book Page has a DEAR Beverly birthday post today, too, with some new and different links. Read Roger has a post on DEAR, too, with a bit of a different take, and I can't say I disagree with him or with Ramona.

April 10, 2006

Fib foolery

Gregory at GottaBook has invented a new literary art form: the Fib. Similar to haiku, but more precise. In fact, precisely
a six line, 20 syllable poem with a syllable count by line of 1/1/2/3/5/8 – the classic Fibonacci sequence. In short, start with 0 and 1, add them together to get your next number, then keep adding the last two numbers together for your next one. It’s a wonderful sequence, and it’s one that is repeated in nature (most famously in nautilus shells). Heck, some folks use it in knitting and music.
Heck, since I'm apparently the only non-knitting blogging homeschool mama around, and can't play (or, heavens, write) music, Fibs it is:

kids and
livestock too
books music movies
and sometimes just a pinch of snark.

First effort, not much thought, not great, but great fun. In fact, it occurs to me that Fibs are the perfect writing exercise for home educated kids, or any kid you might happen to have around the house, especially the younger ones who a) might not like to write overly much and b) are only just learning about syllables and such. So I told my kids about Fibs earlier in the week and here are a couple of novice efforts:

On the deck
Curled up, tail wrapped 'round
I think she's having lots of fun
(Laura, who is also trying her hand at a Fib where the first letters of each line, read vertically, spell a word. Unless she goes nuts trying.)

Spring is fun
I made a big mess
Now I have to go clean it up

And Davy's, not a proper effort, but culled from one of his conversations,

Now what?
I don't know.
I don't think it was
Me. I think it was someone else.

For more fibberosity, check all the GottaBook entries since that first one (and don't miss the comments section -- up to 165 items at last count, most of them Fibs), especially this one with the rules and guidelines.

Many, many thanks to Gregory for this terrific new art form (it's not often I get to say that. Heck, it's not often I'm on a first-name basis with such an artist/inventor type). What are you waiting for? Go Fib!

UPDATE: The Fib fun has spiralled...all the way into last week's New York Times (you need to be registered, which is free; or you can use Bug Me Not)

Easter on the farm

About an hour down the highway from our farm is the world's allegedly largest pysanka, or Ukrainian Easter egg. And because I married my half-Croatian self into a large Ukrainian family, it seemed fate last year when, just before Easter, at the drugstore right next to the display of wax and styluses and dyes, I found a neat little invention, "Egg-in-Wrap: Beautiful Ukrainian Easter Eggs without the Work", manufactured by the wonderful folks at Leemar Enterprises of Wayne, New Jersey.

The envelope, which looks very much like a seed package, contains 12 plastic sleeves imprinted with traditional designs; you slip a sleeve over an egg (hardboiled, raw, blown, ceramic, or plastic -- the kids decided that they liked to dye our hardboiled eggs a solid color first), place the egg on a spoon and then dip in boiling water until the plastic sleeve shrinks around the egg. Ta da! They turn out so prettily it's almost a shame to crack and eat them after a couple of days.

If you want to try the authentic non-plastic wrap Ukrainian method, Leemar has everything you need, from A Kid's Guide to the full-blown adult stuff. And if you're looking for another way to decorate eggs, Billi-Jean at My Bountiful Life... has advice on how to make natural dyes with vegetables, fruits, and spices.

Speaking of Ukrainian Easter, this is the time of year that we, the anti-Atkins family, eat close to our weight in paska, a round, rich, eggy loaf, very similar to the Russian Easter kulich. It's traditionally elaborately decorated with dough ornaments when the loaf is taken to church to be blessed by the priest, but our loaves tend to have a very short life and don't make it too far from the kitchen. You can use regular bread pans, but it's traditional in this part of Alberta to use large coffee cans, either the two-pound or two-kilogram variety. Here's my husband's late grandmother's recipe, which makes several loaves:

Paska (Ukrainian Easter bread)

1 cup water, lukewarm
1 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. active dry yeast
3 cups scalded milk, lukewarm
5 cups flour (it's supposed to be sifted but I don't have a sifter; what I do is use a spoon to pour flour into my measuring cup -- don't use your measuring cup as a scoop because it compacts the flour and you end up with way too much) and then use a knife to remove the excess
6 eggs, room temperature, beaten
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
9 - 10 cups flour
1 cup raisins (the kids like the golden ones in this recipe)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place the water in a measuring cup and add sugar and yeast. Stir a little to dissolve and let stand for 10 minutes to get all bubbly.

Combine the yeast mixture with the lukewarm milk and the 5 cups flour. Cover and let the batter rise in a warm place, covered by a tea towel, about an hour. Add the eggs, sugar, melted butter, and salt; mix thoroughly. Add raisins. Stir in flour one cup at a time to make a dough that isn't too stiff or too soft, and keep kneading until the dough is smooth and glossy and doesn't stick to your hands. Place in a bowl, cover, and let it rise in a warm place until double in bulk. Punch down and let it rise again.

If you plan to decorate the loaves with dough cutouts, separate the dough into three equal parts and reserve one of them for making braids and leaves. Otherwise, divide the dough in two sections. Prepare either two or three 2kg coffee cans, with melted butter and some flour (shake out excess). Shape the loaves into rounds (if using coffee cans) and place each in a prepared pan;the dough should be about 1/3 from the top of the can. If you're making dough cutouts, you can make a traditional cross for the center, and surrounded it with leaves, flowers, petals, and/or braids.

Set the loaves in a warm place until they are almost double in bulk. Brush with one beaten egg with 2 tbsp. water. Bake at 350F for about 40 minutes; the top should be golden rather than brown (you may neeed to cover with aluminum foil). Let loaves cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool more.

Leftovers are very nice toasted or turned into French (um, Ukrainian) toast.

April 09, 2006

My own private homeschooling country fair...

because this week's official Carnival of Homeschooling (find the archives and location of this week's carnival here) is hosted by a Homeschool Blogger, and some of us aren't linking to HSB for the duration. By the way, here's Doc's round-up of the current crop of carnivals -- homeschooling, unschooling, education, and children's literature.

It was wisteria who got me thinking (no jokes, please). She explained earlier today that she'd be a homeschooling carnival no show this time around, despite having written "this nice piece on reading". So, I thought, why not come up with another outlet for those of us not participating this time around?

Just a reminder that this isn't a proper carnival, just a highly subjective -- that is, chosen by me and me alone -- bunch of links to various homeschool bloggers' posts, none of whom submitted "entries" here. I apologize in advance, because of time constraints (this is a farm and a school, and it is Spring), for not being able to include everyone. If you want to add a post, add it to the comments section. The more the merrier.

UPDATE: A couple of the items below have indeed been submitted. Thanks, Doc and NerdMom!

Wisteria's "nice piece on reading"

Carlotta's road to unschooling

Frankie takes a day off from school

L. at Schola and her family are packing their bags to spend several months in New Zealand, and here and here are the book lists and scope and sequence I've been drooling over

Stephanie's survey of Classical Ed articles

Doc herself has chosen to submit her very timely and practical post on Goal Setting vs. Scheduling, as many of us start to think about and plan for the next school year

And don't miss Doc's handy dandy lists of links for National Baseball Day and World Poetry Day

NerdMom at NerdFamily has submitted her family's spring holiday unit study of...Marshmallow Peeps, with It's a Peep's World. Thanks to the NerdFamily, and don't eat too many Peeps!

A Typical Day with 4 girls and 3 boys and some gorgeous sunflowers

Four Little Birds writes about the late reader

The Happy Homeschooler on Home is Where the Hum Is

Jo on Life With Cancer, Kids, and Crayons

Audrey on Going Solo

Daryl has a newbie alert

TulipGirl's Spring Break

New template?

This spring cleaning business has had me thinking that I should change the template here. I've never been wild about this one (Minima Ochre), and the lack of contrast with the print and the greenish background drives me nuts. I'm not too crazy about that, um, "greenish" color either. I'd like a cleaner, though not acid, green.

Thoughts, suggestions, ideas before I do something we all regret? But keep it simple, because as I'm not the most technically advanced hammer in the bag...

Update: I switched around a few times, decided that this was the best of a blechh bunch. But in the switcheroo process lost the old comments (sniff, sniff). Old template and Haloscan all reinstalled. I think I'll stick to cleaning out my closets from now on when I get the urge...

Bill Nye, one of our favorite science guys

What on earth did they expect from someone known as "The Science Guy"?

Great follow-up in today's Waco Trib by columnist Carlos Sanchez. And more on the event from Sploid.

Time to read the Powell's Books newsletter

Should Finally had time this morning to read through the latest Powell's Books newsletter that arrived earlier in the week by newsletter. A few good links:

*The Katrina Project/ Levee for Life: help rebuild the New Orleans Public Library. According to information on the website, "Hurricane Katrina damaged all the New Orleans Public Library's 13 buildings, and ruined eight — where collections, computers, and furniture are beyond repair. Total damage has been estimated at $26-$30 million. Five libraries are now open. Funds are coming in to renovate the damaged branches and to provide temporary service via mobile libraries." For more information, go to the Katrina Project/One Nation or the website for Rebuilding New Orleans Public Library; check the latter's FAQ section for donating directly, cash or books (published since 2005 only, please) to the NOPL. You can also help buy buying NOPL t-shirts and bookplates. Not a bad idea for Mother's Day and Father's Day...

*The Ink Q&A interview with June Casagrande, author of Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language for Fun and Spite. Her reasons for writing the book?
First, I wanted to help people who don't know where to turn with their language questions: Why do you say, "This is she," instead of, "This is her," on the phone? Why is it that you'd say, "He is at the park," but "is" changes to "be" when you say, "It is imperative that he be at the park"? When does punctuation go inside quotation marks? Do you lay or lie on the beach and which of these two activities will get you arrested? Why does the New York Times write "1980's" but the Los Angeles Times write "1980s"? I try to answer the questions people really need answers to (including the myth about ending sentences with prepositions).

Second, I wanted to serve this information in the context of a book people would actually read. There are plenty of language books on the market that start with a basic explanation of subject and predicate, etc. They have great information, but no one ever reads them past page 5. My solution was to compile a bunch of essays, anecdotes and rants to be read for their own sakes. The grammar lessons are slipped in on the side.

Third, and most of all, I wanted to jackslap every grammar meanie who ever made someone feel small. Especially those who pretend to know more than they do. These people have done a disservice to language learning and that's why I go rough on them (too rough to justify, really, but it's all for a good cause.)
"Spite"? "Jackslap"?? "Too rough to justify, really, but..."??? Knowing that Casagrande has had "four years of improvisational comedy training" explains a fair amount. I'm sticking with Strunk & White, and when I need entertainment with my grammar I'll try the new illustrated edition, the supposedly intimidating (what was Publishers Weekly thinking?) Lynne Truss, or always delightful Patricia T. O'Conner.

*And I'm happy to see that Erin McKean, author of The Concise Oxford American Dictionary, Weird and Wonderful Words, and Verbatim: From the Bawdy to the Sublime, the Best Writing on Language for Word Lovers, Grammar Mavens, and Armchair Linguists, will be guest blogging at Powell's starting tomorrow through Friday.

Where we want to go on our next family field trip

Though we never ever, not even hardly ever, watch TV in the mornings, for some reason it was turned on today and to the channel with the "Good Morning News Show," which of course on a Sunday has cooking and fluff stories. But there was a feature on Valentine Armouries in Calgary. Am I the only one surprised to learn that there are master armourers working five hours from here? They made the armor for the not-so-hot new Beowulf & Grendel movie. And they offer school tours. Since my kids were the ones who, last year in Toronto, dressed up in teeny tiny child-size armor in the Discovery Room at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), the Calgary Armouries should be a big hit. Now we just have to get there, though I'd say that meeting master armourers is powerful incentive...

April 08, 2006

Honored to be in such good company

Carlotta offers a "quickie collection of the people I've come across so far who have expressed a strong opinion either generally against corporal punishment for children or specifically against the type of abuse as promoted by people such as Michael and Debi Pearl".

Good company and good reading.

And here's a good idea: let Carlotta know if you wish to be included.

I'd like to buy a vowel, please

For the second year in a row, Finola Hackett of Tofield, Alberta, has won the Canadian national spelling bee. A hearty congratulations to Finola from the proud Albertans and happy spellers at Farm School. Finola bested 28 other contestants in the final round, received the silver CanSpell cup and a $10,000 education fund, and met the new Governor General and Prime Minister. She and Canada's other 13 regional winners will do their northern best at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. on May 31st. We send b-e-s-t w-i-s-h-e-s for great good luck to all!

And just because we love spelling here, and are (ahem) naturally competitive, here are some more handy dandy fun spelling links:

Scripps National Spelling Bee

"The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" soundtrack cd (with original Broadway cast); don't miss the song, "My Friend, the Dictionary";

"Spellbound", the documentary about the 1999 Scripps-Howard Spelling Bee; now playing on various PBS stations;

Bee Season: A Novel by Myla Goldberg; about the trials and tribulations of a family when its youngest member, nine-year-old Eliza, wins a spelling bee. It was made into a movie starring Richard Gere and Juliette Binoche;

"Akeelah and the Bee", another major motion picture about a spelling bee, opening April 28th. Stars Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett, and Keke Palmer as Akeelah, and sounds considerably less fraught and more kiddie-appropriate than "Bee Season";

Avko's Sequential Spelling program. What we use. It's low-key, cheap, easy, and it works. Check the previous link, or this one, for various information and freebies, including
sample lessons, word lists, and chapters from various Avko publications;

The ABC's and All Their Tricks: The Complete Reference Book of Phonics and Spelling by Margaret M. Bishop

Art history revisited

Kelly at Big A little has been poking around tomorrow's Sunday Times Book Review for kids' lit and found, among other things, Randy Kennedy's round-up of new art books for children. The highlight is The Art Book for Kids, published by Phaidon Press, publishers of Sir Ernst Gombrich's classic, The Story of Art, which I wrote about last month. As Kelly helpfully points out, Kennedy includes an online audio slide show with some of the art works featured in the book.

While The Art Book for Kids seems to be a deal at under $13 (our library system doesn't have it in yet), it's only 80 pages long, there's an awful lot of art -- much of it good -- in this world, so you might want to consider another art history book or two for your shelves; last month's post has a list of one-volume art history surveys, for adults and children, at the end. I tend to think you can't go wrong with art books, for any age, from Phaidon or Harry N. Abrams, which includes Abrams Books for Young Readers (see below).

Other titles reviewed by Kennedy include Faces, Places and Inner Spaces: A Guide to Looking at Art by Jean Sousa, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers in association with the Art Institute of Chicago, where Sousa is deputy director of museum education; and Masterpieces Up Close: Western Painting From The 14th To 20th Centuries by Claire d'Harcourt, to be published by Editions du Seuil in late June. D'Harcourt has written several other lovely and useful art books for kids, Art Up Close and The Louvre in Close-Up.

Birthday treats to think about...

Hint, hint to my dear husband for something to accompany the usual bouquet of my favorite tulips:

I spent a very pleasurable time this morning with my coffee and William Grimes's NY Times review of Julia Child's memoirs (co-written with Alex Prud'homme), My Life in France, which
is Child's exuberant, affectionate and boundlessly charming account of that transformation. It chronicles, in mouth-watering detail, the meals and the food markets that sparked her interest in French cooking, and her growing appreciation of all things French. It also tells the story of the inspired partnership between Child, who died last year, and her husband, Paul, a sensualist and cosmopolitan who cheered his wife on every step of the way, tasted all her experiments in the kitchen and imparted his considerable knowledge of French wine and culture. As Child puts it, with considerable understatement, "We were a good team."
I got a bit of a start to see the photo of Prud'homme in the article, because, as I soon remembered, I went to college with him; he was a year or two ahead of me. Even more startling and delightful was to learn this,
My Life in France was produced by a kind of alchemy. Child first discussed writing a memoir in 1969, when her husband began sifting through hundreds of letters he had written to his twin brother, Charles, describing their life in France. Mr. Prud'homme, Charles's grandson, talked Child into collaborating in 2003 and managed, by stitching together interviews and letters, to construct a coherent, fluid narrative, much of it edited by Child, that rings absolutely true to the sound of her voice.
Nifty, eh?

I have many, many fond memories of watching Julia Child's earliest efforts in black and white on Channel 13 with the whole family, and my father just convulsed in laughter as she'd slap a chicken around or pick up a fish that had slithered to the kitchen floor; meanwhile, my Viennese grandmother sat with a piece of paper and pencil in her hands, copying down the recipe of the day.

And just in the past month, I've taken to referring to Davy as "Julia's child" as he has shown a particularly intense interest in cooking. As soon as I start pulling ingredients out or chopping something or he hears oil sizzling in the pan, he materializes by my side, step stool at the ready. Some of my friends might not approve of a five-year-old frying bacon over an open flame, or chopping carrots and onions for venison stew (all under mama's careful supervision, I should add), but I think Julia would.

April 05, 2006

The next J.K. Rowling is from Edmonton

(thanks to Kelly at Big A little a who reminded me I had this languishing in my drafts folder)

Well, sort of, by way of Oxford.

I saw a story on the news several weeks ago, and looking for more information found an online article, no longer up, at the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, "From shy kid to next J.K. Rowling? Canuck author explodes onto kidlit scene" (try this, though, from CTV). It was about former Edmontonian Mathew Skelton, whose book, Endymion Spring, has just been published by Puffin Books. It's about a young boy who, while running his hand along the shelves of some ancient books in Oxford's Bodleian Library, pricks his finger on the clasp of a medieval book; and, according to the Puffin website,
The paper quivers, as if it's alive. And as Blake looks, words begin to appear on the page - words meant only for him; words no one else can see. The book has been waiting five-hundred years for the right boy; now it must fulfill its destiny . . .
The other half of the book takes place in medieval Mainz, Germany, home of Gutenberg, and is about the sacrifices his printer's apprentice, Endymion Spring, makes to keep the magical book from falling into the wrong hands. Not surprisingly (and I actually mean this in a nice way), it was while reading a Harry Potter book that Skelton was inspired to try his hand at writing his own tale. Equally unsurprisingly, the book proved very popular with publishers, trying to snap up the rights, and Warner Brothers.

The book is out this month in the UK, here in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, and hits the U.S. in August. Great good luck to Mr. Skelton, and we'll keep our eyes peeled.

April 04, 2006

Welcome to the most recent Carnival of Homeschooling...

back at Henry and Janine's blog, Why Homeschool. It's week 14 of the carnival, the theme is "Today in History" (what's not to love?), and all the participants are still going strong!

Kudos to the Henry and Janine for starting this year's round of the carnival, and for doing such a wonderful job with this week's whirl.

The Carnival archives, with the previous weeks' entries, are here.

April 03, 2006

Disgusting and disgusted

From the online edition of today's Calgary Herald:
"A downtown Edmonton school was locked down this morning after a Grade 2 student complained of being sexually assaulted by a stranger in the girl's washroom.

"Police said the girl, a student at Oliver School, was confronted by a man in the washroom. Police have no suspects.

"The girl was on her way out to the playground with friends at about 10:15 a.m. when she decided to make a quick stop out to the bathroom first.

"When she got into the bathroom she found out she wasn't alone," police spokesman Jeff Wuite said. "There was a strange male in one of the stalls in the girl's bathroom. He grabbed her, sexually assaulted her, then left.

"The girl collected herself and managed to get to a teacher," Wuite said. "That is when the teacher called EPS (Edmonton Police Service)."
First thought: I'm glad my kids are safe at home with me. My heart breaks for that poor little girl.

Second thought: There's no reporter's name on the website article, but if I have to spend all day tomorrow on the telephone tracking him or her down to explain that no-one, certainly not a child in Grade 2, "complains" of being sexually assaulted, I will. The correct term, my J-school friend, is "reported". Shouldn't be too hard for a reporter to remember, eh?

Poems can give you

Poems can give you
by Sandra Bogart

Poems can give you
double vision.
They make you see
the colours you feel
when you're sad,
the sound of a red,
red sunset,
the smells of happiness,
the flavours of the seasons,
Double vision
not blurred
but crisp as last night's snow.

(from Til All the Stars Have Fallen: Canadian Poems for Children, edited by David Booth and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton)

Why we homeschool: reason #672

Actually, this is one of the main reasons we started homeschooling, so it's a lot closer to #6 than #672.

This morning, reading through the Alberta Math Workbook for Grade 3 (one of the things I picked up at last year's homeschool convention), just to see how Laura's work, primarily with Singapore Math, compares to what her friends at the local public school are doing -- more out of idle curiosity than out of any desire to match their efforts -- I was reminded again why I can't stand the provincial curriculum. In two words, "learning outcome"; as in, "Alberta Math is a comprehensive review and practice workbook that provides activities for each and every learning outcome in all strands of Alberta Mathematics Curriculum." Okay, you can throw "strands" in there, too. Which all means what, exactly, Mr./Ms. Alberta Educrat? The particular exercise I read about was "Area fit", where the child is instructed to "Cover a desk or table with the following shapes or items (hand, thumb, book or rectangle, bottom of can or circle, triangle, hexagon). Decided which one is the best to measure the area." And the expected specific outcome for this particular waste of time? To learn to "select an appropriate non-standard unit to measure area." Hmmm. More like to learn jargon and bureaucratese.

And here's a fourth word that drives me batty in the Workbook -- "estimate." The third exercise in the book is on "Counting Strategies." A grid, 12 squares by 12 squares, is shown on the page, and the first question is, "Estimate the number of squares." "Count the number of squares" shows up at number 3, and "Describe anther strategy you could use to count the number of squares" is the last and fifth square. Now, if I didn't know better, and I do, I'd say that in second grade, Alberta schoolchildren must get a good start in addition and basic multiplication for this sort of "counting strategy" question to make it into the beginning of the Grade 3 review book. But..........no. And yet, all through the workbook, the math educators have a ball asking the kids to estimate this and that, rather than having them demonstrate arithmetic skills -- addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, time, measurement, etc. I always figured that the logical progression is to develop a solid foundation in basic arithmetic, and then as you get older you'll understand and know how to make a decent estimate. Which probably explains why I never grew up to work for a provincial education ministry or state education department.

We'll be sticking with our own curriculum and learning outcomes, thanks very much.

A brilliant idea

And not because I'm included either, though it is nice -- very nice -- to be asked along for the ride. Audrey has the great good idea today of "Favourite Posts from other Farm Schoolers". Hop on over. Better yet, take the tractor.

I'd say I wish I had thought of it, tee hee, but until recently, I hadn't even discovered Audrey at A Small Corner of Nowhere or Wisteria at Twice Bloomed Wisteria (a new find this past weekend, in fact), both thanks to Frankie's Kitchen Table Learners. Other Farm Schoolers in this morning's round-up are Doc, Mul-berry, and RedNeck Mother.

Farm Schoolers of the world, unite! Or at least have a heck of a good time farming and schooling and writing.

Added later:
Purely by coincidence, was hopping around blogs and found my way back to Angela's blog, Three Plus Two, which I had neglected to bookmark the first time I visited. In her latest post, Angela writes about Farm Babies and also mentions that she's trying to consolidate her blogs and start two new ones, Notes from the Country, mostly about growing things, and Three Plus Two Homeschool, about the day to day school activities.

The Third Carnival of Children's Literature starts NOW!

over at Semicolon. The theme is Poetry, because April is National Poetry Month, though as Sherry points out the entries range from poetry to prose, all in the aid of children's literature. Thanks, Sherry, for taking this on and doing such a masterful job!

You can find the first two carnivals here:

First Carnival of Children's Literature, at Here in the Bonny Glen

Second Carnival of Children's Literature, at Chicken Spaghetti

April 02, 2006

Something different

For poetry month, and because while updating my list yesterday of What We're Reading, Watching, Listening To & Playing With/The Poetry Month Edition, I managed to delete half of my template, I thought I'd also include that list here. Now go hound those interlibrary loan librarians!

Poetry Speaks: Hear Great Poets Read Their Work, from Tennyson to Plath (book and cds), edited by Elise Paschen
Poetry Speaks to Children (book and cd), edited by Elise Paschen

A Child's Introduction to Poetry: Listen While You Learn About the Magic Words That Have Moved Mountains, Won Battles, and Made Us Laugh and Cry (book and cd), edited by Michael Driscoll and illustrated by Meredith Hamilton

A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children, edited by Caroline Kennedy and illustrated by Jon J. Muth
The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, edited by Caroline Kennedy

Poetry Out Loud, edited by Robert Alden Rubin

Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Eric Beddows

Favorite Poems Old and New, edited by Helen Ferris

The Caedmon Poetry Collection: A Century of Poets Reading Their Work (audio cd); ignore the publisher's sloppy labeling job and just sit back and listen

Seven Ages: An Anthology of Poetry with Music (audio cd) by Naxos AudioBooks

Voice of the Poet: Robert Frost (audio cd), from Random House's "Voice of the Poet" series
Voice of the Poet: Langston Hughes (audio cd), from Random House's "Voice of the Poet" series. Search for "Voice of the Poet" at Powell's, Amazon, B&N for the rest of the series.

Poetry for Young People series; includes volumes of poetry by Carl Sandburg, Walt Whitman, Shakespeare, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, Coleridge, Longfellow,and more; very nicely done

Emily by Michael Bedard and illustrated by the marvelous Barbara Cooney
The Mouse of Amherst by Elizabeth Spires
"The Belle of Amherst" on DVD; Julie Harris in the one-woman stage production about the life and poetry of Emily Dickinson

"The Barretts of Wimpole Street" (1934) on video, starring Norma Shearer as Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Frederic March as Robert Browning
The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning, illustrated by Kate Greenaway

You Read to Me, I'll Read to You by John Ciardi and illustrated by the fabulous Edward Gorey
How Does a Poem Mean? by John Ciardi

Talking to the Sun: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems for Young People, edited by Kenneth Koch and Kate Farrell
Rose, Where Did You Get That Red?: Teaching Great Poetry to Children by Kenneth Koch
Wishes, Lies, and Dreams: Teaching Children to Write Poetry by Kenneth Koch
Making Your Own Days: The Pleasures of Reading and Writing Poetry by Kenneth Koch

Beyond Words: Writing Poems with Children by Elizabeth McKim and Judith Steinbergh

A Crow Doesn't Need a Shadow: A Guide to Writing Poetry from Nature by Lorraine Ferra and Diane Boardman

Magnetic Poetry (something for everyone)