Saturday, February 11, 2012

Living Books The Way I wish I had Learned!


I have had a complete epiphany! Living books are truly awesome. In the homeschool community we have lots of popular buzz words from Unit Studies, Learning Style, Lapbooks, and Living Books. For the longest time I thought I had a clear understanding of what these terms meant in relation to homeschool methodology. Well boy was I wrong. It wasn't until I recently decided to include more read alouds into out homeschooling as I saw that we were lacking since the children started reading independently that started searching for ideas on how to fit all of this reading time into my already packed schedule. That is when I rediscovered the teachings of Charlotte Mason. Charlotte Mason an innovative educator from the 1800's believed that children should be exposed to Living Books and that lessons should remain short and to the point. She believed in exposure to high quality literature no "Twaddle" as she called it.

I was so overwhelmed by idea of adding in all these extra read alouds. At first glance it just seemed like I would be spending the whole day telling the kids  to be quiet and still while we try and plug through all these books. How was I going to do it. I decided to take a step back and just start slow instead of diving in head first and just do audio books. Hey us homeschoolers spend enough time in the car right? LOL! I thought this would be a great way to get something in while on the road and I wouldn't have try and get them to listen cause children stuck in the car are always a captive audience. What else is there other than picking a fight with there sibling cause they touched something on there side of the car.

So what exactly is a Living Book you might be asking. Well until the big Ah Ha moment I use to think it was simply a Classical work of literature. I even thought it was biographies at one point like The Autobiography of Fredrick Douglass or George Washington. Well it is and it is much much more. We started our car audio read aloud session with good old "Little House on the Prairie". Got to love that Laura Inglles Wilder and her adventurous tales of the untamed journey West for the American Pioneer. They Ingles family faced many challenges on there travels and settlement in the new Western Frontier. They encountered everything from raging rivers, malaria, wild panthers, neighboring Native Americans, and scarce food resources. As we listened to the story being told it was almost like we got transported there. I could see the sights, hear the sounds, smell the smells, and even feel the weather. That is when I realized what a Living Book was. It is a telling that takes you exactly to that space and time of which the author has written about and lets you experience life through the eyes of the characters. How I wish I was taught this way in school instead of the dry snippets in my textbooks. Can you imagine how much passion could have been ignited in me at an earlier age had I been taught through living books. I would have been able to make so many connections as to the WHY of certain events in history had I had the back stories and side stories of the folks who lived it and not just the dates and places that left my head as quickly as they entered just long enough to pass the test. Now I am not speaking ill of memorization cause I am a fan of creating memory pegs. But I teach that way with the intention of filling in those pegs with the appropriate explanations and information later on.

So after our whistle was wet with Little House on the Prarrie we moved forward with Little House in the Big Woods. It also became a big hit with the children. So I wanted to seek out more information on those who passionately believe in the use of Living Books. That is when I came across the achieves on The Homeschool Channel of Shirley Solis. She is a Homeschool Convention Speaker and owns a Business Lifetime Books and Gifts  which has lots of good information and literature. Another resource I found about is a book called "Honey for a Child's Heart" by Gladys Hunt. There a are dozens of Living Book resources. They even have a website that has living book resource suggestions for Math called Living Math. Jim and Sheila Carrol founded an entire curriculum program based of living books called Living Books Curriculum(LBC). They have a free newsletter that I signed up for in which I have received great articles on how to do narration and even some audio story links. They had an audio out around Christmas that told the origins of St. Nick. It was really interesting as I have never heard the story before. I also was looking into some more free resources of living books on the Internet since most of them are public domain and came across a few good sites that have some well organized.
Here is the list:

Project Gutenberg
The Baldwin Project
Rosegate Harbor
Librivox(Free Audio Library)

Of course there are many more but these are just the ones I have found. I also want to make clear that although I am changing things up a bit that lean towards more a Charlotte Mason style does not mean that I have totally abandoned Classical Education. I have stayed true to philosophy since the beginning. We have always been Eclectically Classical. I firmly believe in molding things to fit you and not molding yourself to fit a education style. There is lots to learn as far as how to learn best. There are many ways to accomplish your goals. You just got to pick one that speaks to your heart, your children, your lifestyle.

9 comments:

  1. Must be something in the air. I found TWTM and felt an instant connection but I am switching my curriculum to add more Charlotte Mason ideas as well. I got to hear Lindafay at a homeschool meeting she was awesome. She has a website www.charlottemasonhelp.com filled with ideas plus free curriculum. I am incorporating many of her suggestions, I am thinking a lot about SL curriculum as well. I have not finished all the planning. But I am looking forward to a change of pace around here. Best wishes to you as you start to incorporate more CM methods into your day.

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    1. Hey Tiffany, thanks for always coming by and supporting my post. I didnt realize till yesterday that I wasn't subscribed to your channel so I went by and signed up. I was wondering what is SL curriculum? Sometimes I am not always familar with the abbreviations. lol! Yeah I am really understanding and feeling the Read Aloud piece of Charlotte Mason. I also like the scripture memorization and I have always been a fan of narration. We have been using that anyway cause that is something that overlaps into Classical anyway.

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    2. Thanks for following my site. And thanks for always, always posting things that encourage and inspire me to be a better homeschool mom! Son Light is a literature based curriculum. It is Charlotte Mason based. So all of your history and science books are centered around real books. Next school year will be my first year trying out their curriculum. I love TWTM but I am finding it very hard to do all the planning that comes along with it. So I think that something that comes preplanned may be a better fit for me at this time. That way I can plan only areas where we have a particular interest. SL does not follow the history or science cycles but it has its own cycles. Charlotte Mason's ideas don't line up with TWTM either but some of her ideas are great. I am not sure if I will be using SL or just the ideas lined out by www.charlottemasonhelp.com So many choices (sigh)What really draws me to SL is their attempts to present information/history from all sides not just one sided that is found in many other curriculum publishers. I need my children to have more information about who they are and our contributions to America. Another great resource that I found is www.blessedheritage.com it is Charlotte Mason style with an African American bent. The creator is a lady named Belinda and she is very friendly and will answere any questions you have about the curriculum, I love it. I don't love all the resources used but I have found that the book suggestions are great and have added many to my own library for use in the future.

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    3. Oh, I didn't know SL was Sonlight. I am familar with them. I actually borrowed a lot of books on my reading list from there wonderful catalog. I also have visted there website in the past to use there various placement test and to view some of the webinars in there archives under there helps section. Yeah Sonlight is a well put together program. It is on the high side though. lol! But if you can check ebay and other used curriculum sites for the materials as well. I always see them at our State Homeschool Conference Used Book Sales. I haven't used Blessedheritage before but my daughter use to be penpals with Belinda's daughter a few years back. Nice woman. I have always been a DIY type of girl so that just transfered into my homeschool style. The only thing I really like scripted is Math. That I greatly appreciate coming with guides. lol!

      Have you looked at the Simply Charlotte Mason website or Ambleside Online? They are good resources as well.

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    4. Yes I have, I use the Simply Charlotte Mason website system for our memory work. I have looked at both sites for reading suggestions.

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  2. I love Charlotte Mason's philosophy and plan to try it with my children.

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    1. That is awesome that you are finding your style in homeschooling. If you dont already know about it there are a couple of yahoo groups for Charlotte Mason folks. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cmason/ and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AmblesideOnline/

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  3. Thanks for posting this! I have been wondering more about Living books and this gives me more info about it and I am excited to check out the sites you have linked. I love love love audio books!

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    1. Thanks! we love audio as well. One of my kids learn best through hearing so we try to use it best we can.

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