Thursday, March 31, 2011

Think About It Thursday: Wondermill Grain Mill!!!

I am so excited to announce that our family has began to mill our own wheat and grains to make all of our own breads. This journey towards wanting to mill my own wheat started about 2 years ago at my local state homeschool conference when I came across a woman's booth who had some nice smelling back goods set out. At the time I didn't think much of what she was selling you know just famished and digging into the free samples while I continued to shop the exhibit hall. lol! But this woman had given me a free audio CD called " Do not Eat the Bread of Idleness" I popped it in while in the car one day and I have to tell you it changed my life. She went into the whole history of white flour and why so many health problems are related to this so called bread most of us are consuming. I was all hyped up and set to by a bread mill and a bread maker and all the other gadgets. But of course my husband pulled me back in off the edge. He had a habit of telling me when he thought I was being fanatical. So I backed down and forgot about it. It wasn't until this pollen season that just started that the idea of milling our own wheat came back up.

Since the first inspiration 2 years ago my husband did let me get a bread maker and he has made our pizza and biscuit dough. So some things did change. Just not fully the way I wanted to. But you know God works in his own time. We were still using store bought flour and although it said whole wheat I now know that to not be true. But this allergy season really got me back to thinking that we need to make that change cause for the first time in my life I felt like I had pollen allergies. And my little one(2yr old) nose just wouldn't stop running. I mean over all we have pretty good nutrition so the only thing I could point out as the culprit was all that store bought bread sitting on the counter top and in  the freezer. So I went and looked up the company from the homeschool conference from 2 years prior. By the way they are The Bread Beckers down here in Woodstock, GA. Low and behold they had some free live stream videos of some of the nutrition classes that they teach over at there store and my husband and I spent two days watching these pretty lengthy videos till he became convicted as well. So we planned for Monday(this Monday) to take the hour drive out to Woodstock and purchase our grain mill and 2 7gallon buckets of Hard Red Wheat(breads) and Soft White Wheat(pastry). I highly recommend you get the free audio CD from The Bread Beckers and to watch or read as much of the information as possible about milling your own wheat at home. This is something that I feel not only is a blessing to our health as a family but it is also an economic blessing and it adds to our self sufficiency and Preparedness Storage.

So something I think we should consider on this Thursday is rather or not we should be Milling our own Grains and Making our Own Breads.

Here are some pictures of what we have made so far.

Spelt Banana Nut Muffins

 Hard Red Wheat Buns or Rolls

Zucchini Bread

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Well Trained Wednesday: Grammar Stage- Grade Levels

It's always around this time of year that I begin to see more and more homeschool parents posting on the forums and the blogs about there question on curriculum choices and annual testing. The post come off more like a plea for help than an inquiry.Year after year so many of us new and veteran homeschoolers  alike begin to question our methods and ways because we wonder if our children are on "Grade Level". They are worried about "Falling Behind" or "Catching Up". Well I must pose the question behind whom?

 The early years of schooling should be focused on mastering reading, writing, and arithmatic. These are the foundations of all higher level learning. So if these things are not mastered it makes it very difficult to move to the next level. The problem that I have found with most other curriculums is that they are set up in such a rigid way that it makes it hard to focus your child into the righ levels of learning. That is something I have found to be the complete opposite in the Classical Education Grammar Stage model. Since adapting more of a Classical Homeschool philosophy I find myself focusing less and less on grade levels, falling behind, and catching up. We don't just plow through a grade level curriculum. We go through the skills necessary to master higher level in the future instead. Here is a quote from "The Well Trained Mind" that sums this philosophy up.

" In the early years of school, children vary so widely in their development that assigning a child to a particular"grade" can be extremely difficult... material isn't divided into grades, but rather into levels. You should always spend as much time on one level as you need and progress on to the next level only when your child has mastered the first level, whether that comes before or after the "normal age"... Adjust the time you spend on each subject so that you can concentrate on weaker areas."

I have totally found this to be true in our homeschooling experience. My oldest(6yr old) 2nd grader is on various levels throughout her curriculum. For instance we use recommended reading list geared toward 4th or 5th grade students. She is on the 2nd grade part of First Language Lessons grammar book. We are now at the end of Singapore Math level 1B. Math has been a trying subject for us up until this year when we switched to Singapore. I am grateful to homeschooling that enabled us to take the time to help my child through her challenges and find an approach that works. We follow the Classical science timeline which we didn't start until this year. The Classical outline for science starts with Life Science, Earth and Astronomy, Chemistry, and then Physics. Of Course with the  Classical model just like with the history you cycle through the sciences 3 times once in each phase of the Trivium. Now we are still in Life Science and typically a 2nd grader would be on Earth Sciencce and Astronomy by now but I understand from excerpts like the one above that I shouldn't feel the need to adhere to a rigid schedule especially since these topics will reintroduce themselves again. At this age the science is more focused on classifying, learning the scientific method through experiements, and reading materials on a subject.  The materials we gather from the libary are on all reading levels. In handwriting we are doing Handwriting Without Tears 3rd grade cursive. Now most curriculum(not all Abeka and SWR start with cursive) even those of the Public Schools don't introduce cursive until 3rd grade. Now in "The Well Trained Mind" they recommend starting cursive in the 2nd grade especially if the child has a tendancy to reverse the common mistake letters p,q,d, and b. Now for spelling we use Sequential Spelling level 1. It happens to be a program based on leveled learning rather than grade level learning rather than grade level learning. we have found it to be a perfect fit for my oldest cause it is a pattern based program and she can use her strengh in phonetic awarness to excell in the program. I am not going to go into our history cause that is where the "Eclectic" side of our curriculum comes into play and I don't follow strictly with the Classical Model.

I am sure that you get the picture by now that education is not so cut in dry. Very rarely will you find a child who fits into to a grade level on all subject matter. This is nothing to worry about. Just meet your childs needs where they are at. This outlook always reminds me of the bible verse:

"For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little"
Isaiah 28:10

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Think About It Thursday: Homeschool Gardening

One benfit we have as homeschool families is that we get the opportunity to influence our children just from the shear amount of time we get to spend with our children. Well most homeschoolers take the opportunity to train there children spiritually, some take it as an opprtunity to work on character and other social related issues. Homeschooling also presents an opportunity to help our children develop a healthy lifestyle. You have the chance to take field trips to local gardens, farms, factories, etc.. And show your children where there food comes from. Why not take it a step further and take the opportunity to grow some of your own food. We already know as parents that kids love to get down in the dirt so this can be a good way to show them how to be constructive with an activity they already love.

This endevore does not have to be overwhelming. Trust me I was totally overwhelmed at the thought of growing a garden. I mean  I am from that new generation that doesn't have a green thumb between us. My grandmother keep a garden but that was the extent of my experience with food growing was watching her in the yard as a small child. My mother(love her very much) was a buy from the store don't show me where it comes from type of gal. So I really didn't begin to gain my food knowledge till I was an adult. I want my children to grow up with this lost knowledge of our not so distant past. So we are going to grow a small gardern.

Now a word on space before we get started. We live in a townhouse and have a shared backyard with our neighbors so we can't grow anything in the ground but you know we have a deck and can put a couple containers out there. And like I said before I am coming from zero experience so this is going to be an adventure for the whole family. I these easy pop up containers at Sam's Club for under $40 that I am going to get and we will go from there. Its a little more online cause they include the shipping but they have them in stores. I also found this cool little video on youtube that shows you have to sprout your seeds in toliet paper rolls. Take a look:

So consider growing a garden for the Spring/Summer. Its a great homeschool project the whole family can enjoy. I will defintely post pics and updates as we get started on the project this coming week.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Well Trained Wednesday: What is Classical Education?

I am going to start posting specifically on Classical Education every Wednesday. I will start with defining what Classical Education is to going through each phase and subject of Classical education. I have decided to start with discussing sections from my first introduction to Classical Education which is "The Well Trained Mind" by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer. After I go through my highlights of there wonderfully put together text I will then make my way through Leigh Burtins of Classical Conversations books "The Core" and "Echo in Celebration: A Call to Home- Centered Education". There are other books on Classical Education out there and I may not get to them all but these are the ones I am going to start with and we will go from there. So lets get started shall we.

What is Classical Education?

The Classical Education model is based off the Trivium which is a three prong learning cycle. The phases of the Classical Education Trivium are the Grammar phase or sometimes refered to as Poll Parrot phase, then the Logic or Dialectic phase, and lastly the Rhetoric phase. It may be easier to look at it in terms of Elementary, Middle, and High School but the Classical model is more than your typical grade level learning approach. Its more level based learning than grade level based learning. Classical Education is training the mind to be lifelong independent learners by presenting methods and materials that flow with the natural patterns of development. Each phase builds upon the skills mastered in the one before.

In "The Well Traind Mind" Susan Wise Bauer recalls her own Classical Education given to her by her mother Jessie and describes it like this:

" Our Education was language- centered, not image- centered; we read and listened and wrote, but we rarely watched. She spent the early years of schooling giving us facts, systematically laying the foundation for advanced study. She taught us to think through arguments, and then she taught us how to express ourselves. This is the Classical pattern of the trivium, the three- part process of training the mind."

Classical Education at one point in history was the standard now our generation is in a Rebirth or Renassiance trying to reclaim The Lost Tools of Learning as influential scholar Dorthy Sayer would put it.

Next week we will be starting our journey into the first leg of the Classical Education Trivium the Grammar Phase.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Think About It Thursday: Zero Waste!

So I was on one of my homeschooling social networks and came across this video and blog.

Zero Waste Video

Zero Waste Blog

Zero Waste Website

Here are my thoughts after watching it. Tell me what you think.

I am not trying to be to synincal but these folks arent doing anything that my grandparents haven't already done when I was coming up. I grew up not throwing things away, buying in bulk, having a backyard garden, shopping the local meat market instead of major chain, passing down clothes and shopping thrift. It wasn't called Green or Zero Waste back then it was called Survival in a large middle/ low income family. lol!

Don't get me wrong I am glad more folks are returning to this lifestyle of our not so distance past. It really is the the 30- 40 something generation of today that got far removed from this way of living. We are usually the first generations of our family to have huge square foot homes before we even have children. We were the first of our families to live off prepackaged convience foods and eating out more than on a special occiasion. I am not saying having nice things is wrong but what this generation lost touch with is Restraint. You notice the family on the video didn't even realize that they room in there life to save more money just by wasting less. So many folks got caught off gaurd with the Economic Crisis and didnt have savings to back up on because they lived in the now instead of planning for tommorow like our parents and grandparents.

We need to get back to a more generational family living situation as well that way we would be in a position to learn from our elders. I think as an added benefit of homeschooling we have an opportunity to reconnect those family bonds where our children will turn to us for guidance and advice about life. So if we have a healthy mindset ourselves and teach good principals we have now changed the lives of not only our children but our grandchildren as well.

I will get off my soapbox now. lol!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Kingdoms of West Africa Unit Study

So we have left Egypt and are on our way to the West Sahara to study the Medieval History of West Africa. West Africa had 3 major Empires or Kingdoms which were Mali, Ghana, and Songhay. We are starting in the middle actually with Mali cause we already did some activities and fields trips dealing with Timbuktu. The chronological order though is Ghana, Mali, then Songhay. I will list the online resources we will be using for Mali. As we move into the other 2 kingdoms I will share those resources as well.

Booklist for West African Studies

Ancient and Medieval Africa lesson Plans

West African Kingdoms Powerpoints

Sundiata and Mansa Musa Lesson Plans

Trekking Timbuktu: Mansa Musa

Mali Trade Routes

Mansa Musa's Pilgrimage

The Road to Timbuktu Lesson Plans

West African Trade Map

Africa For Kids

And here is a Youtube Clip from a PBS documentary put together by famous historian and geneologist Henry Louis Gates.
Just double click on the video to take you to youtube and then you can select the other parts to finish the viewing the documentary. Its call Road to Timbuktu.
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