Saturday, May 31, 2008

Covered Bridge

We took a short drive the other day to one of the covered bridges near our home. Oregon is know for its covered bridges, particularly in our area. I thought you all might enjoy a little tourist excursion this weekend:

Friday, May 30, 2008

Little Lukie

A little glimpse of my baby Lukie, BB (before blog), and proof that I did scrapbook once upon a time. Luke at 1 month:

3 Months:
6 Months:
1 Year:
1 Year, 4 Months:
1 Year, 10 Months:
2 Years:

2 1/2 Years:
Happy 4th Birthday, Luke. (And stop that growing up!!)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Magical Day With Matisse

Laurence Anholt has created a wonderful series of picture books, each featuring a famous artist. Matisse the King of Color is his most recent title and the one we are perusing this week. These books are a great introduction to the lives and masterpieces of great artists for elementary students.

The younger crowd will enjoy the Mini Masters board book series. We have most of the titles on our bookshelf, and they are often requested by the smallest members of the household. A Magical Day with Matisse (and the others) really holds the attention of little people, as well as being an educational experience for the adult who is likely not familiar with many of the paintings. These have the distinction of being among my favorite board books, and will probably be the only ones to be transferred to our regular collection of books when the boys outgrow the rest.

Matisse, on my favorite topic lately:

An artist must possess Nature. He must identify himself with her rhythm, by efforts that will prepare the mastery which will later enable him to express himself in his own language. ~Henri Matisse

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


The boys and I had to read a favorite picture book today. Nothing but Miss Rumphius would do after our short foray into the lupine field on our way home from piano lessons this afternoon.
When Alice was a little girl, she lived by the sea with her grandfather and listened to his tales of adventure. She was determined to travel around the world and then settle down to live by the sea when she grew old. Her grandfather told her there was a third thing she must do. She must do something to make the world a more beautiful place. She wondered what that could be.
Alice grew up and moved away.
She became the librarian, Miss Rumphius.
One day she decided to find the places she read about in the books at the library.
She traveled all over the world.
She experienced many adventures.

When she grew old, she bought a cottage by the sea.
She loved the lupines growing on the hill.
She bought seeds and scattered them across the village.
The next spring, lupines grew everywhere.
Miss Rumphius had succeeded in making the world a more beautiful place.
Barbara Cooney tells the story much better than I. She is also a wonderful artist. We have many books on our shelves with her name on them.
Everytime I pass this seemingly abandoned shed, I'm filled with some sort of mysterious desire for adventure. I don't know why. It looks even better set against a field of blooming clover.
My tastebuds are in the mood for clover honey...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

All-of-a-Kind Family

From an all-boy Catholic family in a small Morman Utah town (1896), we moved on to a Jewish family with 5 girls in New York City (1917). [Next up, a poor Alaskan village (1948).]

Everything about All-of-a-Kind Family was perfectly charming. It was refreshing to read about a family of girls for a change. We learned about many Jewish holidays and life in New York City. The mother was an angel. The illustrations were adorable. Adventure. Romance. What else can I say?

As for the children, bedtime was something to which they looked forward. Bedtime was when Ella and Sarah, who slept together, built their imaginary house and decorated the beautifully rich and colorful make-believe rooms. Bedtime was when Charlotte made up fanciful stories to tell or thought up games to play with her bedfellow, Gertie. Bedtime was when Henny planned some special mischief she could carry on the next day in school or at home. Planned all by herself, because she did not like sharing a bed with anyone.

They slept, all five of them, in the one room and that made for plenty of company in the dark. And what was the best of all, Mama never minded their talking to each other. "It's early enough and they're resting their bodies anyway," she said. "They'll fall asleep when they get tired."

Sunday, May 25, 2008


I am working on making my tags/labels or 'themes' easier to access, particularly Education and Literary Buffet. (The themes are listed on my side bar, making it easy to search for a particular subject.)

I've added tags for specific school subjects (History, Science, Language Arts, Music), put all geography posts in Around the World and all art posts in Fine Art Friday. The Education theme will be for general educational topics as well as posts in which I list updates or resources for a large number of subjects.

I've added Picture Book Picnic and Reading Aloud (children's literature) but kept all of my own reading in Literary Buffet along with general books and reading posts.

Clear as mud? Really, though, for those of you who enjoy searching by subject, I'm hoping this will make it easier to navigate rather than having to wade through 80 posts on education.

I know that some of you have arranged to get email notices when I publish new posts. Do you get notices when I edit a post? If so, I am very sorry for editing so many posts (to change the tags) all at once. Grin.

Let me know if you have any other suggestions for making my blog easier to read or use as a resource.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Knowledge, Reading, and Poetry

Have you made use of the wealth of knowledge and ideas offered in article form at Memoria Press?

What Ever Happened to Knowledge? by Cheryl Lowe

Both conscience and knowledge convey the idea of objective truth that exists outside the human mind, which is the true end of education. Modern education philosophy no longer believes in the reality of objective knowledge, which is precisely why the modern educator can no longer educate.

Well, that explains a few things.

The following article really spoke to me. I appreciated the additional reasons to continue our read-aloud times now that Levi is reading on his own as well.

1 Myth, 2 Truths: How to turn good readers into good writers too. by Andrew Pudewa

One of the biggest mistakes we make as parents and teachers is to stop reading out loud to our children when they reach the age of reading faster independently. In doing so, not only do we deprive them of the opportunity to hear these all-important reliably correct, and sophisticated language patterns, we lose the chance to read to them above their level, stretching and expanding their vocabulary, interests, and understanding. We begin to lose the chance to discuss words and their nuance, idioms, cultural expressions, and historical connotations. And they lose something far more valuable than even the linguistic enrichment that oral reading provides; they lose the opportunity to develop attentiveness, the chance to experience the dramatic feeling that a good reader can inject, and even the habit of asking questions about what they’ve heard. Tragically, because of our hectic, entertainment-saturated, individualistic, test-obsessed, and overscheduled lives, few of us take sufficient time to read out loud to our students, even into their early teens—a sensitive period when understanding of language and understanding of life are woven together and sealed into the intellect.

And on poetry memorization:

...[B]ecause of the nature of poetry, poets are often compelled to stretch our vocabulary, utilizing words and expressions in uniquely sophisticated—but almost always correct—language patterns. A child with a rich repertoire of memorized poetry will inevitably demonstrate superior linguistic skills, both written and spoken, because of those patterns which are so deeply ingrained in the brain.

Be sure to read the articles in their entirety at the provided links. There is enough food for thought at Memoria Press to last a long while.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Anno's Journey

I recently discovered Anno's Journey by Mitsumasa Anno at our local library. If you have never looked at a book by Mitsumasa (as I hadn't a couple weeks ago) you are missing something very special. I usually prefer picture books with words, but words would only take away from the beautiful experience of 'reading' the story of Anno's Journey.

Anno creates a world in which I want to live. A traveler wanders across each two page spread, first rowing a boat in the sea, leaving his boat and finding a pathway, and then purchasing a horse for the rest of his journey. The open countryside becomes dotted with farms, becomes a village, becomes a quaint town, becomes a walled city, and then slowly back into open countryside where the traveller again meets the sea.

Even after looking at each page for extensive amounts of time, I could still go back and find something new. There are seemingly endless details. Stories, such as a romance, are continued from page to page. The artist has hidden treasures on each page for the reader/gazer. Find fine art (I laughed out loud when I saw Seurat's A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, not yet realizing that there were hidden images), characters from literature (Don Quixote tilting at windmills), children's games, famous people (Beethoven sitting at a window), and so much more.

Anno writes of his journey: "I followed the path wherever it went, up and down hills, across rivers, through fields which spread out into great open spaces...At the end of the road there were always houses gathered together to make a town, and in every town there were gates, leading from shops to squares and plazas, through graveyards and gardens to churches and cathedrals. One town had a castle in its midst; one castle was a town by itself..."

"It is a world filled with variety, yet a simple place with a deep-rooted sense of culture, an appreciation of nature that preserves it from destruction and pollution. It is a beautiful world."

It is, indeed, a beautiful world, and Mitsumasa Anno is an incredible artist.

I immediately purchased Anno's Journey, Anno's Spain, Anno's Britain, and Anno's U.S.A. They are all available used, but unfortunately I was unable to find a decently priced copy of Anno's Italy. I went back to the library and was thrilled to find they had a copy for us to borrow. In addition to the literary and artistic details, Anno has included scenes from the life of Christ throughout the book. From the cover of Anno's Italy:

"Threaded throughout the entire book runs the theme of the life of Christ, interwoven with the daily activities of people in every walk of life. A devout Christian himself, Mr. Anno reverently traces in his art the story of the New Testament from the Nativity to the Crucifixion, with references to famous religious paintings by great Italian masters such as Michelangelo, Boticelli, Fra Angelica and Leonardo da Vinci."

I will be keeping my eye out for a copy to purchase!

If I had a rating system for books (now there's an idea!), these would receive my highest rating. Please, please don't miss them!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sense of Wonder

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find resources of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. ~Rachel Carson

In searching for quotes online, I frequently have found myself contemplating a lovely one and noticing the name Rachel Carson. I was finally curious enough to research her name and find out who she was.

My research led me to purchase the book The Sense of Wonder. The content is an essay originally entitled "Help Your Child to Wonder" and first published in 1956. Carson later intended to expand the essay into book length but was unable to accomplish this before her death. The Sense of Wonder was published posthumously in 1965 without changes to the original content. The book I purchased was published in 1998 and is illuminated with beautiful nature photography by Nick Kelsh.

The essay itself is simply beautiful. It holds both inspiration and practical advice on sharing the wonders of nature with children. I found myself wanting to share quote after quote with you. It is almost impossible to choose just a couple.

Kelsh's photography is gorgeous. Levi and I poured over the pages of pictures.

For those parents and educators interested in Charlotte Mason concepts, I highly recommend this book as a living book both for children and adults. I was continually reminded of Charlotte Mason's ideas of children and nature as I read the words of Rachel Carson.

I feel the repeated urging, tugging of the heart strings, to let my boys outside. To seek out beautiful details in nature. To marvel at God's incredible artwork. To wander. To explore. To play. To feel.

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in. ~Rachel Carson
A child's world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. ~Rachel Carson

If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength. ~ Rachel Carson

There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature--the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter. ~Rachel Carson