Golden Grasses

Monday, August 24, 2015

Math, Science and History - Homeschooling High School

I've written a bit already on how we teach Math, Science, Biology and History in our home. Check out some previous posts:
Godly Patterns in Homeschooling
Discovering Patterns
Social and Physical Sciences 
Classical STEM
VCF-Globe Trotting

I've also talked about lasagna learning in our  homeschool. This is a very classical approach to learning. What I mean by lasagna learning is layer upon layer; overview, review, mastery. Going over material one time, in simple form, might be just enough to whet an appetite, but to really get a-hold of an area, to own it, love it and be able to play with it, requires familiarity, understanding it from multiple sides, from different depths and perspectives.

I am always a bit perplexed by people who talk about nailing down the one perfect curriculum for a specific subject area- especially those areas that are content rich, like Bible and History. We grab as many resources as we can find and do, what is probably best described, a yearly smash up in content areas. For instance, in Bible, my kids have their own reading/study; will be doing some serious Apologetics in CC, have spent the week-end immersed in presentations by a Rabbi from CJCUC, took part in a Middle East study last fall presented by former Missionaries to Turkey, etc. Their history reading delves into church history, as does Timeline memorization, along with much of the fiction that they read. Yes, we do actually intentionally purchase curriculum, but at this point, in High School, it's more pre-determined by who they are studying with, any outsourced classes they are taking and areas of interest.

The year, Cub will be delving deep into American History. We just finished Notgrass' 900+ page 2 volume series on "America the Beautiful." This year he'll be reading source documents and thinking and writing deeply on issues such as Free Market Economics and Liberty. Is redundancy wasted time? Hardly, if it is done with intentionality and purpose, and not as a time -filler- it takes the studetn from passive to active learner. Love that. 

In between, and for fun, he is reading The History of the Renaissance World and the Story of Science by SWB, so it's not like he'll be solely focusing on American History for the entirety of high school.

Skill specific subject areas like Math and the hard sciences require a different approach. For these classes, memory work has to happen. Laws, Rules, facts memorized make everything go so much more smoothly. Then, time on task. You can't get through much math if you don't actually sit down and do the math. I do have a math slug and for that student I set the timer. They work hard while the timer is going and when the hour is over, they are done with that subject; otherwise they'll spend all day in front of their math book, getting more and more discouraged, not getting anything done and feeling guilty about their lack of motivation.

Check out more on Math, Science and History. @Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

It is Well With My Soul

we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 2 Cor 4:9

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Cor 4:17-18

Do God's Commandments- Love One Another.

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 4- 7 Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Circe Institute 2015 Annual Conference

Circe Institute 2015 Annual Conference in Charleston, SC. The break-out sessions were good  but it was the plenary sessions that I loved. Holy Buckets, these guys can make it all come together. The crowd consisted of Classical Educators from private, public, university model and homeschools. In other words people from all over the country (and some from beyond) with the common purpose of using the vehicle of classical education to bring the Gospel to the hearts and minds of others. Super love. 

Not many vendors- but the ones that were there were amazing- IEW, Lost tools, Roman Roads Media, 8th Day books. What made it so good, so refreshing, so fulfilling? The great food, great conversations, great teaching  had something to do with it. But also, the common vision of Goodness, Truth and Beauty, the fellowship of the Saints who believe that God reigns in the midst of crazy educational philosophies, political foolishness and a world gone a little skewed. 

If you haven't had the chance to get to a Circe conference yet, make it so. Worth it on so many levels! 

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mid-August Alert

Mid-August. I am not sure what happened to the last 2 weeks, other than super busy at work getting all of my students re-enrolled and curriculum purchased, getting ramped-up for CC Challenge and marinating in all of the fantastic Tutorials and learning opportunities CC provides (Wowza. If you want to get yourself some amazing Ed training, get involved in Classical Conversations), getting TM's spiral bound, and kids notebooks organized,  gathering resources and getting engulfed in a laminating frenzy, taking down barbed wire fencing, hauling gravel, working on the brick walk, landscaping, and doing my summer purge from the recesses of the basement and attic. With all of that, I have not done any super cool large crafty projects, or read a novel, and the attic floor isn't done, meaning neither is the attic. And kittens. Seriously, they are way too super cute.

So, yeah. Blogging. I've had a lot to blog about but no time to do it in. I did resign, again, from the TOS Crew. I am super bummed about this, because I L.O.V.E. the Crewbies and all of the amazing behind the scenes opportunities, not to mention the obvious, but I spent the spring/summer behind on every.single,darn.thing I was involved in and I am too much of a control freak to live there long. Sanity and all that, is a wonderful thing.

So, our yard. Booyah, baby, is totally beautiful. The front looks like a yard, complete with bushes and wildly colorful flowers. We even have a few eggplant tucked in- though we would have had more if Cub hadn't gone into over-zealous-weed-the-garden-mad-man-frenzy at one point. The east side, where the fire-trucks went through, is grassy and park-like, after 4 years of dirt hauling, leveling, grass seeding, weeding and mulching. The west side now has a bricked in landing spot by the back-door, and defined garden beds. A zillion miles of barbed wire is down and rolled in the farther-out pastures, along with tens of yards of chain link, rolled and gone and dry-rotted fence posts out. It's a bizarre feeling de-constructing pens and fields as the craftsmanship from 90 years ago is a bit different than today; i.e. built to last, and it feels like we are vandalizing history. And yet, barbed wire. 'Nuff said.

Birthday season is upon us and we kicked it off by taking Feeche and friend and kids to see Tim Hawkins live and then out to Hu Hot (which, as much as everyone else loves, I don't; the things we do for love). Tomorrow is the actual day of, then mine, then KB's, then Dr. Dh's. Had a blast sitting next to each other at Tim Hawkins laughing so hard our faces and stomachs hurt and looking at each other, saying, yeah- you do that, watching Cub and Flower and Feeche laughing with abandon, after a long and heart wrenching season. Laughter is medicine for the soul.

In other news my brain is crammed full of of 5 Common Topics, ANI charts, Declensions and more. And this week is the county fair- longest running county fair in the Territories, y'all. Good, clean fun. This week-end will be crammed full of a project Dr. Dh has spent every single free (and some of them not) moment on. It's good, good stuff, in a world gone a bit crazy. Dr.Dh is a visionary, which is a combo of memorizingly cool and a wild ride down Mosquito Coast.

School- not starting till September 1, so summer is still happening. Sleep overs, swimming, books and lots of drawing going on around here. History of the Renaissance World, Pride and Prejudice in print, and Agents of Shield and Indiana Jones on the queue. Yeah, I live with a teen-aged boy. He goes to the gym with me, takes out the trash and weeds my garden, so can't complain too much. Flower continues to nurture her Dick Van Dyke obssession; we like Dick but Morey's the Man.
How's your summer going?
Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

July Wrap-Up

July went by in a technically disastrous blur resulting in this monthly smash up versus weekly wrap-up. It was a crazy and wonderful month- full-up with friends, travel, work.

Shakespeare Camp got the month rolling. Feeche ended up there several days, coaching the younger boys, while Cub and Flower spent the week with Enak and Co.

Week 2 found us traveling to SC, visiting family on the way to and fro. Dr Dh and the kids spent time doing touristy things like  Ft. Sumter, the Yorktown, the Laffey, Ft. Moltrey, the H.L. Hunley and the Aquarium. Oh, and the beach, which was the biggest hit of all. Our prairie loving kids L,O.V.E.D the ocean, no surprise. Because if there is the great outdoors, water or wildlife around, they are happy , happy people.
Andrew Kern, Founder and Prez of Circe Institute
Meanwhile I was at the 2015 Circe Conference, soaking up great conversations, meeting amazing people from all over the country and listening to Tracey Lee Simmons, Wes Callihan, Ken Meyers, Martin Cothran and Andrew Kern and so many other Godly, amazing thinkers. After a June that oozed with Classical Conversations, July was pretty lean on CC- other than meeting Heather Shirley, Matt Bianco and a host of other CC peeps at Circe. Love that. 
(check out the Circe Blog for more on cultivating wisdom and truth)

Wes Callihan, flanked by David and Daniel Foucachon, founders of Roman Roads Media,
Circe found me hanging out with the talented and terrific team from Roman Roads Media.  If you haven't check out RRM yet, do yourself a favor and DO IT!  Their products are GREAT, the company is founded and run by bi-lingual, smart, funny, kind and generous homeschooling grads and their Master Teacher's are names you already know and trust- Wes Callihan, Jim Nance, Matt Whitling. Still need convincing? Check out my reviews: The Greeks, The Grammar of Poetry.

In between all of the fun and inspiration I worked my day job and wrote reviews 
With Lee in Virginia
Shape Whiz
Project Passport- Homeschool in the Woods 

as well as wrote the next installation in the Homeschool High Shool Blog Hop
Frosting on the Cake- Electives, Work and College Prep
Don't Panic! -Homeschooling High School

And in between all of that the kids and I have taken down more decrepit chain and barbed wire fence, tons of fence posts (no small feet as they are usually buried posts, cemented in),reclaimed a few more "lost" areas behind sheds, built another brick sitting area, put up and painted the wooden picket fence and gardened. Dr. Dh has been incognito because of a new position at work and a major event he is planning.
Read much? Not as much as I'd like but I did make it through  "In My Father's House" by Corrie Ten Boom on the way to SC- delightful testimony of how God weaves even the most innocuous threads of our lives together. I also started "A Carless Rage for Life" - a bio about Dorothy Sayers. Love her.
Flower is still reading Pride and Prejudice. Cub is desperately waiting for the next SWB installment (History of the Ren World and Science) and the Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis. He'll have to fight me for it. I've read it several times but Lewis is always a good idea, right?!

How was your month?

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Beach, Baby!

It's the beach, right?! Of course we're happy! 
Sand, waves, the salty sea air!

Pictures taken over a few days...

 Dr.Dh and the kids went to plenty of other site- seeing spots as well. 
Getting pictures, however, was not on the list of things to do. 
This is the boy (granted, he got home from Shakespeare Camp at 10 p.m, we put his clothes in the wash and we left the next morning straightaway) who made comments the entire trip such as,  "I hate the car." 
At the beach, "Yeah, totally worth it!"

They take off running. Shark attacks? No problem. 
(actually they were farther north than we were). 

  One of Flower's goals this year was to make it to the ocean. 
(I'm still not sure how this goal came to be?) 
The Chesapeake did in a pinch, but barely compared to the real thing. 
She was happy, happy, happy to find her little self ocean-side!  
Dr. Dh and I honeymooned on the Outer Banks 30 years ago. 
Not quite the Outer Banks, but it was great to get close enough with some of our favorite people in the world! 
Of course there's wild-life. Feeche dug until he had a crab in hand. 

'Cause even though it's pitch black out, there is still sand and water.... 

...which is always cool to float in!

A working light-house on the beach we frequented.

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Shakespeare Camp -Love's Labor Lost

Shakespeare Camp is the brain-child of Super Mommas, Ana and Caitilin. Caitilin is our intrepid director every year, taking on the task of teaching, directing, feeding, cajoling and whipping into shape the motley crew that assembles every summer for 6 hours rehearsals and a 2 hour performance. 

This was the 7th Annual Shakespeare Camp and the 5th year that at least one of our kids have been involved. This year, both Cub and Flower participated. 

This year, pink- T-shirts were in order. 

We had seasoned pros on stage and a few new faces.

Cub wore the same attire that Feeche did a few years ago in King Lear

It was Flower's first year on stage at Shakespeare Camp. 
No lines, and burning up in a dress she insisted was made of carpet.
It was a bit hot the day of the performance! 

Mr. T had all the moves!

and Mr. F added some local color. 

A king and his men.

and Mr. I in an incredibly cool Russian hat. 

Incredi-buds- on stage and off.

Scorned by the princess, regardless of incredibly cool Russian hats.

Incredi- king-Cub, spying on his Lords. 

Sir J, striking a pose. 

Most of the whole crew. Miss. M made a fabulous princess and her ladies in waiting were beautiful, too. 
Flowers for Producer and Director. Another fantastic Shakespeare Camp, thanks to Ana and Enak! 

Enak and some of her crew with part of mine. 
Our kids spend the week at their house, eating good food and sharing great books, good memories and a lot of laughs!  

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

With Lee in Virginia- TOS Review

"Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, You should never do less."
~Robert E. Lee

Heirloom Audio Productionscompany committed to audio adventures for Christian families, 
has published another fine audio theater production: 

Our family really enjoys radio theater and jumps at every chance we can get to hear quality audio drama. We became acquainted with Heirloom Audio Productions last year when we reviewed In Freedom's Cause, and were eager to be chosen for this review. This is a quality audio production with a fine cast including the following well known actors:
If you haven't discovered G.A. Henty yet, With Lee in Virginia is a great introduction.
This abridged edition follows the story of a 15 year old boy who grows up in the South, but whose sympathies lie on the side of justice. Our young protagonist meets many brave soldiers, is confronted with the ugliness of war and comes to understand the call of duty, even in the face of defeat. There are many character qualities to explore, ponder and talk about in this production as the solutions and answers are not simplistic. The characters struggle with the ugly reality of war and doing the right thing.

Included is a 52 page study guide. The graphics are beautiful, the content rich and includes sections on Listening Well, Thinking Further and Defining Words. Also included are two Bible studies; one on Duty and on title "Love Your Enemy." Good studies for today's troubled times! With Lee in Virginia 

The study guide makes  With Lee in Virginia  a terrific unit study based on  the Civil War, a terrific supplemental material for American History,  a character study,  a great co-op study or simply a well develop interest led study. We listened with interest during a couple of hot summer afternoons as a break from outside yard work; a terrific addition to the conclusion of our American History studies this year. While we didn't turn With Lee in Virginia into a formal study, one of the things I appreciate about good literature and great audio productions is that the kids have time to ponder what they read or listened to. We were discussing the war and character from this audio production long past the time it took to listen to it. 

In addition we also received:
All the Special Bonuses I received are available from 
with purchase of the Family Four-Pack Package
  • audio theater production (mp3)
  • ebook of G.A. Henty’s original story with colorful graphics (pdf)
  • soundtrack (mp3)
  • study guide and discussion starter (pdf)
While it might be daunting to think about studying "war," we have found a lot of value in doing so, when we can find resources that are sanitized enough to make them age appropriate. War is never simplistic and rarely black and white or simply good vs. evil. Henty does a good job of writing about the character of the people involved, showing the complexities, nuances and incredibly difficult decisions life demands. This audio production captures that, addresses war as the horrific reality that it is while respecting the reader enough to allow them to draw their own conclusions. This is a great introduction to a war that torn our country apart and continues to define America today. 

Keep your eye on Heirloom Audio Productions for more fine products, produced with Christian families in mind! 

Find Heirloom Audio Productions on Social Media 


And, of course, read other reviews from the lovely Crew: 
With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review 
@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Frosting on the Cake- High School Electives, Jobs and College Prepping

This months topic for the Homeschooling High School Blog Hop has to do with Extra-curriculars, working while in high school and prepping for post high-school. Like I posted last month, we mostly follow a traditional 4 x 4 transcript. Electives, jobs, college prepping, life skills- these are like frosting on the cake. They take good, solid, plain traditional and jazz it up into something grand and festive.
Since we’ve lived in the Territories we have taken advantage of the extra-curricular opportunities available. Some of these didn’t exist when we moved here- we brought them here, supported those who did, looked for opportunities in the area.
We base electives on

  • Interests
  • Traditional school requirements
  • Our values
  • What's available in the area. 

These activities have included but not been limited to:

TeenPact and alumni events - learn state and national government,how to make a difference in the world despite ones age and get ahold of what it means to be a Christian citizen in todays world; campaigning- local, state and the national level
ballroom dancing- protocol at its finest. A local dance company hosts homeschooling ballroom dance lessons and open dancing every other week.
Volley ball - in the summer- lessons and scrimmage
Drama Camp- 1 week every spring with a huge musical every  other year
One Act Plays - every January at the local university theater
Shakespeare Camp - every summer the kids memorize and perform a full Shakespeare play
Yearly formalhigh-school Dinner-Dance- planned and served by area Homeschooling Parents
Teen-Nights -good, clean fun - bonfires, food, friends!
broom-ball - brooms, a ball and an outdoor ice-rink .
Choir - co-op
art classes-  through co-op, and professional artist friends
Creative writing
Speech/ debate - through co-op, TeenPact and CC
and more!
Our high-schoolers have often had jobs that have included part time work at tea and coffee houses, office work, farm and ranch work and most recently working at an orchard.
Our acreage and house-rebuild project (from a house fire-read the Tear Down to Build Up posts for more) have provided ample opportunity to learn life skills. Our kids know, in great detail, how to drywall, tape, mud, sand and finish, paint, simple carpentry skills, grout, re-finish floors, build brick paths and much more. We have also re-claimed much of our land by clearing, hauling, fence removal, and have gardened, landscaped and hardscaped extensively. The kids have helped me build simple furniture. We have experimented with animals and edible landscaping and they have enough familiarity with animals to have personal lists of pros and cons. All of the kids know how to comparison shop, cook and meal plan. They all know how to glean and acquire goods and clothing for next to nothing and still look well dressed and respectable.

How did we teach all of this? By living and working alongside of each other. Most of the above was not curriculum but necessity driven. When Dr. Dh and I have not known how to do something (i.e. tile the bathrooms) we have found mentors and books and studied and learned. When we have had grapes that were ripe,we have canned juice. Our life-style has necessitated seeking out information and implementing it. 
Life skills for our teens also include knowing how to introduce people to each other, carry on a civil and interesting conversation, ignore social media for the sake of real time interaction, make others feel welcome and at home and engage in moral, honest relationships. We have technology but use it as a tool rather than being enslaved to it. Shaking hands and making eye contact with new acquaintances is a lost art and one we hope our kids embrace, even as they leave our home. 
Driver’s Ed and keyboarding go without saying. I would love for someone to learn small engine repair and fix everything around here, but so far that hasn’t happened. 

My current and most recently graduated high-schooler share the passions of history, geography and writing. They have both spent zillions of hours reading and studying history and geography- maps are  handy at our  house- and writing on their own as well as discussing and studying story, character development and genres. They read Susan Wise Bauer's History of series for fun, listen to Old Western Culture Greeks and Romans on car trips  and spend many hours discussing the fine points and nuances of history.
 Poetry is de-rigeur- both memorizing it, reading it and writing it. We use and love Grammar of Poetry.  and Poetry Outloud has been a great recitation competition that is easy to bring to your local homeschooling community. 
What comes after high school? We have found college is getting more expensive, less academically challenging and of questionable value- both morally and vocationally- when complete. We are also in that odd middle income range that affords mostly nothing in terms of government aid, but can’t justify $25K per year per child on college. Where does that leave us? With college hacking, vocational and entrepreneurial endeavors.

For our younger two we’ll be doing test prep earlier and on-line through Bridgeway Academy and taking the ACT as many times as needed for a specified minimum score. In addition, our high-schoolers will be taking DE and CLEP test through the summer as part of their high school program; General Ed courses, such as speech, or areas of particular interest such as Western Civ.
What academic electives do we do? This past year, our freshman took the Grammar of Poetry, Middle East studies, Intro to Water Color, Bio lab in our co-op and then Chem Lab and Myths and Legends on-line. This year he’ll do music studies, A and P lab  at a local hopsital, Physical Science lab, reading The History of Science and The History of the Renaissance World as well as continue watching Old Western Cultures Greeks and Romans by Roman Roads Media, and Logic by Nance.
We’ll also include personal finance, some classes at the Outdoor Camps (free and in the past have included snow skiing, archery, canoeing, orienteering, and nature walks). Because their Dad is a Science Nerd they will be plenty steeped in biblical archeology, astronomy and weather.

This year our kids will delve into Latin in earnest, as well as take as much RS German as they want, and Spanish in co-op with a native speaker. 
P.E? We work out at a gym and they jog with their Dad. We do the occasional rock-wall climbing and canoeing field trip. My kids are outside a LOT- rain, snow and in sub-zero weather, as well as on hot, windy prairie days. They are all walk-abouters and spend hours on the ridge, at the river and generally being out and about. An elective? Not really, but they are all naturalists at heart, observing animal behavior, weather patterns and plants. We do have field guides about and we look up and note animal, habitat and weather. 

Apologetics is de rigour around here and something we study throughout our core subjects, using fantastic books and DVD’s by authors such as Bonhoffer, C.S. Lewis, Kreeft, Tolkein, Johnson, Colson and others. Church History is part of our plan as well, which we study more through history, timeline, historical fiction and movies than as an actual class in and of itself.

Cub loves shooting- air soft pistols, guns and bows. He is more marksman than hunter and we feed the habit by supplying him with arrows, tips, bullets and safe targets. I love that he does because my Mom and Grandma were award winning sharp-shooters. This also manifests itself in occasional air soft war games on our property.  The legend lives on, right?

As I wrote this post it seemed a bit superfluous. I mean, most of what I researched about extra-curriculars seemed like stuff that we just "did" as a matter of course through living our lives. I offer what we do and have done as mere suggestions - perhaps they will spark an idea for you. I'd love to hear what you do.   

Read More on Electives in the High School Years from an amazing group of experienced Homeschoolers! 

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!