Monday 30 December 2013

50 Classics in 5 years

I found out about this at Worthwhile Books and thought having a goal like this would be a good challenge. Ten books a year is doable as long as they're all not as dense as The Brothers Karamazov.
Some of these are books I've been wanting to read for a while, some are (R) re-reads, (Chr) Christian classics, (C) children's classics, (A) Australian classics and a couple are books that might not yet be considered classics because they are more recent but from what I've heard might possibly be included (feel free to correct me!) Some are books I don't particularly want to tackle but think I probably should.
I probably won't be doing these in the order written but will be starting with the first one. 
My starting date is December 30th 2013 and I plan to finish by the 31st December 2018.

1) Island of the World - Michael O'Brien (Chr) a more recent book.
2) Persuasion - Jane Austen (R)
3) Adam Bede - George Eliot
4) We - Yevgeny Zamyatin
5) The Keeper of the Bees - Gene Stratton-Porter
6) Nicholas Nickleby - Charles Dickens
7) A Good Man is Hard to Find - Flannery O'Connor
8) The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Washington Irving
9) The Winter's Tale - Shakespeare
10) The Tragedy of Julius Caesar - Shakespeare
11) Twelfth Night - Shakespeare
12) My Family & Other Animals - Gerald Durrell
13) The Napoleon of Notting Hill - G.K. Chesterton
14) Bambi: a Life in the Woods - Felix Salten
15) The Weight of Glory - C.S. Lewis (Chr)
16) Home Education - Charlotte Mason (Chr)
17) The Small Woman - Alan Burgess
18) A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
19) The Abolition of Man - C.S. Lewis
20) A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (R) but a very long time ago
21) The Man in the Brown Suit - Agatha Christie
22) The Vicar of Wakefield - Oliver Goldsmith (R)
24) The Prisoner of Zenda - Anthony Hope
25) My Brilliant Career - Miles Franklin (A)
26) The Old Curiosity Shop - Charles Dickens
27) Robbery Under Arms - Rolf Boldrewood (A)
28) Agnes Grey - Anne Bronte
29) I Can Jump Puddles - Alan Marshall (A)
30) The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie
31) Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
32) For the Term of His Natural Life - Marcus Clarke (A)
33) The Tragedy of the Korosko - Arthur Conan Doyle
34) I Find Australia - William Hatfield (A)
35) Whose Body? - Dorothy Sayers
36) The Five Red Herrings - Dorothy Sayers
37) The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
38) The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham
39) My Love Must Wait - Ernestine Hill (A)
40) The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Washington Irving
41) Madame Bovary - Gustav Flaubert
42) A Little Bush Maid - Mary Grant Bruce (C)
43) Far From the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
44) The Metamorphosis - Frank Kafka
45) All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque (R)
46) All's Well That Ends Well - Shakespeare
47) An Old Captivity - Nevil Shute
48) A Fortunate Life - A.B. Fahey (A) I've read an abridged children's edition which  
       was excellent; this is the unabridged version.
49) The Chestry Oak by Kate Seredy (C)
50) Madame Curie by Eve Curie

Other possibilities:

I Will Repay - Baroness Emmuska Orczy
The Thirty-nine Steps - John Buchan (R)
Cover Her Face - P.D. James
The Singing Sands - Josephine Tey
The Franchise Affair - Josephine Tey
Brat Farrar - Josephine Tey
Cancer Ward - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
Sir Nigel - Arthur Conan Doyle
Train to Pakistan - Khushwant Singh
Fer-de-Lance - Rex Stout
Alas, Babylon - Pat Frank (a classic post-apocalyptic novel)
The Keys of the Kingdom - A.J. Cronin
An Unsuitable Job for a Woman - P.D. James
The House of the Four Winds - John Buchan
Seven Little Australians - Ethel Turner
The Shiralee by D'Arcy Niland
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
Green Dolphin Country - Elizabeth Goudge
Surprised by Joy - C.S. Lewis
Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

Thursday 19 December 2013

The Birth by Gene Edwards

I read The Birth by Gene Edwards years ago (in 1995 actually) and just finished reading it for the second time. I have a friend who reads it every Christmas and I've always meant to read it again at this time of the year but I only just got to it this past week. It's a short, easy read and this poem which the author shares before the story starts gives an insight into what he had in mind when he wrote it:

I shall drink from waters deeper than the 
And from the poet's eye shall I read his 

But, oh, what I might learn should I dare to 
From God's view even of the simplest 

Christian Maynell

This story of the Incarnation begins in heaven when Michael the Archangel feels a strange compulsion to visit the Door, the passageway to the physical realm.

It had been ages since the Door had opened into that realm. Not since Malachi the prophet had there been commerce between the two creations.

It is the fullness of time and Lord has a mission for Michael: to open a pathway from the heavens to the earth.

Now the Door between the two realms opened again....Could it be that something of the very essence and totality of God was about to pass into the other realm?

In the midst of this incomprehensible moment, the voice of Recorder sounded forth once again.

"Many of us have passed through this portal that joins our two realms. Long ago, as you recall, the Door was always open. The two realms joined a place called Eden. After the Great Tragedy, the Door closed.

"On frequent occasions, at the command of our God, the Door has opened. Several times the Lord stepped through this Door to visit Abraham. Once the Door opened for Moses and the seventy elders to step into our realm. Once also for Isaiah, who stood in this very doorway and looked upon our dwelling place. But always the Door has closed again......But never before has anything such as this occurred.

"Today, the Door opens inside a woman's womb!"

This unusual Christmas story is one that looks at both realms - from the angels in heaven as they see God's eternal purpose unfold; to Elizabeth and Zachariah, Mary and Joseph, and others in the earthly realm whose lives are woven into this wonderful drama. Even though it's a fictionalised account, I thought it was a refreshing and thoughful view of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Ambleside Online Year 2 with an 8 year old

Moozle started AO year 2 just as she turned eight years of age. I basically followed the Ambleside Online recommendations with some adjustments to suit our situation and location. (I wrote about her Year 1 here.)
It was a big year for our little girl with the sadness of seeing her Grandad for the last time, the excitement of her older sister and brother both getting engaged within a couple of weeks of each other and the experience of being a flower girl for the very first time when her big sister got married about 6 weeks ago. And now she's anticipating being a flower girl again at her big brother's wedding early next year.

This is the Word document I made as a guide to schedule each week, changing chapters numbers etc as needed. Bible, Maths, Copywork and Piano were done everyday. Occasionally I had to remind her to get these done before lunch. I go over the maths lesson with her beforehand, check her copywork, and listen out when she does piano practise. Although her reading ability is very good, I read most of the scheduled books aloud.


We continue with A Beka and have just begun their Grade 3 Arithmetic but this year I added Singapore Maths 2A.  I'm using the material put together by Our Father's World which includes teaching suggestions and ideas for hands on activities which I don't have for A Beka (their teaching manuals for home educators are horribly expensive.) A Beka moves very quickly and I've used some Rod & Staff alongside with some of her siblings but I thought Singapore might suit her better.


Reading presented a challenge this year only because her reading has just taken off and she reads so quickly. My husband couldn't believe she'd read a book properly in so short a space of time but she can tell us all about what she's read.

Some of her free reads:

The Little House Books - I've only let her read the first five as I think the others are more suitable for older readers content-wise. I'd read the first few in the series aloud to her a while back. 

Redwall books:

Swallows & Amazons books 

Wulf the Saxon and The Young Carthaginian by G.A. Henty 

The Sugar Creek Gang series by Paul Hutchens (see my post here for more details)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Prince Caspian (I'd read these aloud last year) and The Horse and His Boy.

The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill by Dorothy Wall

Spindles series by Barry Chant. Well written; all my kids enjoyed them around this age.

And these books that fitted the AO time period we studied in Year 1 & 2:

Augustine Came to Kent by Barbara Willard

This book commences in 585 A.D. with the story of Pope Gregory the Great passing through Rome, and seeing some fair-haired slaves being sold in the market place finds out they are 'Angles.' In 597 A.D. he sends the man who would later be known as St. Augustine of Canterbury to take the Christian faith to the land of the Angles (England).

Son of Charlemagne by Barbara Willard

The work Charlemagne began was nothing short of the founding of the Holy Roman Empire - the re-forging of a Roman Empire in the West, in alliance with the church.
I read this book aloud years ago and thought it was an unusual look at Charlemagne. The story is told through the eyes of his son Carl and allows us to see the King as a son might, with love and candour. Moozle's 18 year old brother told her he loved this book and suggested she read it. It's interesting to hear what my older children remember about books and I'm often surprised by some of their favourites. (A.D. 781)

Beorn the Proud by Madeleine Polland

Ness, a young Christian girl in Ireland is taken captive in a Viking raid by Beorn, a young man on his first raiding trip around middle of 800 A.D. and is taken back to his homeland in Denmark.

She told him of the first Christmas and the the coming of the Baby in the stable, while the star blazed in the East and the angels sang above the cowering shepherds on the frosty hill.
Beorn banged his bare brown knees and shouted with laughter, to think that a King should come so low and still hope to keep his subjects.
"But He has," Ness said, offended. "That was eight hundred years ago, and He is still our King. Can you tell me a Viking chief who has reigned eight hundred years?"
Beorn looked at her and was silent...

If All the Swords in England by Barbara Willard

This is the story of the events surrounding the life and death of Thomas Becket from 1164-1170 A.D. The narrative is told through the eyes of twins Simon and Edmund, one In the service of the King and the other in the service of Thomas Becket, when he was chancellor and afterwards when he was the Archbishop of Canterbury.

He pulled himself up to his immense height and his great powerful voice rang out over their heads.
"I make God my shield. If all the swords in England were pointed against my head, your threats could not move me. Foot to foot you will find me in the battle of my Lord."

Some additional notes:

We persevered with Parables of Nature even though she often said she didn't understand what it was about but she did engage with a number of the stories and didn't mind listening to them. I sometimes spaced a chapter out over a couple of days as some of the chapters seemed much more difficult than others.
She didn't like Joan of Arc by Diane Stanley; loved the Burgess Animal Book even though we don't have any of the birds here in Australia - she read this one herself as a free read (ie. no narration required).

We're just finishing the seventh week of Year 3 as I write this. We've done the first six chapters of This Country of Ours by H.E. Marshall  because these chapters deal with a broader look at history and not just the American side. The book becomes more detailed about the individual American states from about here onwards so we've stopped using it now.


We're using the book we used in Year 1, Kings and Queens by Eleanor and Herbert Farjeon, to go along with our history readings and other poets, some scheduled at AO and others not.


Art & Music

Linea in Monet's Garden by Christina Bjork & Lena Anderson is a wonderful way for a child to connect with the art of Claude Monet.

Artistic Pursuits - Book 2: Stories of Artists and Their Art - we're spreading this out and covering it slowly (we've done 10 out of the 32 lessons.) I think the key to using these books is having all your supplies ready and waiting. If I have to skip projects because I don't have the supplies I don't feel I'm getting my money's worth by the time I pay for the book and postage.

Edward Grieg by Wheeler and Duetcher. I'm fairly certain this is out of print but we managed to find an old hardback copy for a reasonable price (at Abebooks I think). Very good authors for children about famous composers. Grieg was one of the composers we listened to during the year. Wonderful music.

Favourite Read Alouds

Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan.
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss (an AO Year 6 free read) I wrote about it here.

Nature Study

Treasury of Nature Stories by Leslie Rees


Bush Calendar by Amy Mack. I've been reading this aloud to everyone at the beginning of each month as it tells us what flowers are in bloom, which birds are breeding or are around at that particular time of the year and has interesting bits of information on our wildlife. I posted a page with links to free downloads of books including this one at Australian nature study.


We used Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography (see the Ambleside Online page for details). I recently found it can be downloaded for free here.
I used the guidelines for Year 2 Geography on the AO website and added an occasional video eg.

Seterra is good for map practice & learning all types of geographical bits & pieces and can be downloaded or used online.


Moozle learnt to use the sewing machine this year (she can now thread it by herself and asks me to get it out for her a couple of times each week) and finished two projects: a bag for her dancing shoes and the wheat bag below which was a present for her big brother's fiancée. I put instructions for making it here.

The Childcraft Encyclopedias I picked up cheaply at the op shop give her lots of ideas for making doll's house furniture and she continues to practice her knitting & cross stitching.

English paper piecing - I like doing this so Moozle has joined me and this is her little finished article, a coaster for her dad:

Other things:

Scottish Highland dancing - a very aerobic dance form.

Cooking - she makes these pancakes on her own, either in the omlette maker or frying pan, and has tried many different variations, and they've all been edible.
My sister-in-law, courageous woman that she is, comes over and cooks with Moozle and Bengy every couple of months. Last month she looked after them so we could go to an engagement party in the afternoon and while we were out they made a three course dinner for all the family. They used recipes from the Jamie Oliver 15 minute Meals Cookbook. It took them nearly 3 hours to get it all ready, tripling recipes and whatnot, but it was very impressive!

Some firsts:

Highland Dance display - this is the first time she'd danced before an audience wearing a kilt with all the trappings.
Piano exam - her first was a couple of weeks ago.
A drive across to South Australia to see her Grandad and meet some extended family for the first time.