Saturday 28 January 2017

Classical Academic Press - Review & Give Away! French for Children, Primer B

At the beginning of last year my nearly 11 year old daughter started using French for Children, Primer A (FFCA) published by Classical Academic Press after a number of years of informal French study. It proved to be timely for her to commence learning this language using a more formal approach and we were both very happy with the material. I wrote about our experience here.
French for Children Primer B (FFCB) was published late last year and Classical Academic Press kindly sent me a copy for review purposes. I really like this Curriculum and so my review is unabashedly positive, but it is my honest opinion.
My now just turned 12 year old daughter started using FFCB in December last year and it followed on seamlessly from their previous text. It is recommended for Grades 5 to 7 and follows the same style and format as FFCA with a couple of new additions.

Overview of FFCB

17 weekly chapters, including 3 review chapters and an end-of-book review
258 pages
6 DVDs
1 CD - contains chants, vocabulary, grammar, dialogues, Say it Aloud exercises and dictation exercises. (Also available as a downloadable audio file)
There are schedules for covering the curriculum in either half a year or a full academic year of 30 weeks.

New features include:

•    an alphabetical glossary or 'mini dictionary' of all vocabulary words from Primers A & B
•    Vocabulary also listed by chapter from which it first appeared in both Primers (12 pages)
•    Appendices condensed and organised into charts: e.g. prepositions, verbs & verb conjugations, past participles

Previous concepts learned throughout FFCA are referred to briefly before they are gone into more thoroughly e.g. FFCA covers the present tense and FFCB reviews this and then introduces the future tense in Chapter 9 and the past tense in Chapter 11.
FFCA teaches Irregular verbs, Part 1 and FFCB continues with part 2 & 3.

Some thoughts:

If you were coming from a different curriculum and were thinking of starting with FFCB instead of FFCA, your child should be familiar with the following concepts first:

Informal, formal forms
Definite & indefinite articles
Preposition 'de'
verb tenses (present)

Past participle - some knowledge required

The DVD's by Joshua Kraut are excellent and contain some built-in review of the content covered in FFCA but they mostly concentrate on new material.
Speaking of DVD's, some kids (notably mine) are put off by the tone, accent or attitude of some speakers ("Do we have to listen to him?") but Mr Kraut gets the thumbs up from my lot. He is easy to listen to, has a sense of humour without being too obvious about it, and is generally very pleasant.
Below is the complete video for Chapter 1:

As I mentioned in my review of FFCA, the only thing I'd add to this curriculum would be listening to French folksongs. I have a YouTube playlist of a variety of folksongs here that we've used previously and a newer playlist here of the songs we're doing this year.

Classical Academic Press is giving away two French for Children: Primer B bundles for USA residents. Enter via Rafflecopter at Expanding Wisdom and There's No place Like Home!

Giveaways end at midnight on February 14th and February 22nd. Winners will be contacted by email. Winners that do not respond by the deadline given in the winners’ email will be replaced by random drawing.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday 19 January 2017

The Keys of the Kingdom by A.J. Cronin

Perhaps the greatest strain is thrown upon our moral vision by the spectacle of another's success. 
The dazzle hurts us.

The Keys of the Kingdom is the moving story of the spiritual struggle of a young priest, Father Francis Chisholm. Often at loggerheads with the hierarchy of the church, Francis was unconventional in many ways, although fervent in his faith and its outworking.
Set in both Scotland and a remote region of China between about 1870 and 1938, the story follows his childhood and the events leading to his decision to enter the priesthood. It portrays his hard won successes and his great disappointments; his individualistic tendencies that sometimes won him no friends, and his humility that opened unlikely hearts and doors.
This was a beautiful work of fiction that reached into my heart.
Francis was overlooked and misunderstood throughout his life. Those who had to work closely with him often despised him at the first. One such person was the proud Mother Maria-Veronica who had decided to leave the Chinese mission until Canon Anselm Mealey, a boyhood companion of Francis who 'had made a fine thing of his life,' came to inspect the mission.

After Anselm had left, Father Chisholm was meditating amongst the debris of his church which had been destroyed by flooding just before Anselm's visit.

There was little courage in him now. These last two weeks, the perpetual effort to sustain his visitor's patronizing tone, had left him void. Yet perhaps Anselm was justified. Was he not a failure, in God's sight and in man's? He had done so little. And that little, so laboured and inadequate, was almost undone. How was he to proceed? A weary hopelessness of spirit took hold of him.

As Francis was thinking thus, Mother Mary-Veronica came out to him:

"I have something to say to you...
I am most bitterly and grievously sorry for my conduct towards you. From our first meeting I behaved shamefully, sinfully. The devil of pride was in me...
I have known now for weeks that wanted to come to tell you...but my pride, my stubborn malice restrained me. These last ten days, in my heart, I have wept for you...the slights and humiliations you have endured from that gross and worldly priest, who is unworthy to tie your shoe. Father, I hate myself - forgive me, forgive me..."

"So now you will not leave the mission?"

"No, no..." Her heart was breaking. "If you will let me stay. I have never known anyone whom I wished so much to serve...Yours is the best...the finest spirit I have ever known."

The Keys of the Kingdom shows what really matters in the long run. Francis had asked God to judge him less by his deeds than by his intention and his intentions had always been honourable.
Lovely, lovely book.

The Keys of the Kingdom by A.J. Cronin is my selection for the Back to the Classics 2017 Challenge: 20th Century Classic


Friday 13 January 2017

A New Year and New Paths

We've been slowly getting back into our normal routine after taking holidays over the Christmas break and early January. Moozle is starting back with Term 2 of Ambleside Online Year 6 and Benj has officially graduated and is beginning on a new path.

Today we did some 'formal' nature study with our nature notebooks after a couple of months of being informal and just mostly observing. We identified a new bird in our backyard, the Brown Cuckoo Dove (Macropygia Phasianell), also know as a pheasant pigeon. I snapped a photo but only managed to get his tail before he flew off into the bush. He sounds almost like an owl, 'whoop, whoop.'

The Handsome St. Andrew's Cross Spider

Moozle's Notebook

My notebook

I'm ridiculously happy about my Lebanese eggplant. It's quite difficult to grow anything edible around here between the wallabies and the possums, so everything is in pots on the verandah.
Moozle is growing two corn plants in pots from seeds her Aunty P gave her and they seem to be doing well. I've never used eggplant as the first time I ate it years ago I was violently sick afterwards!  It's taking me years to be game enough to try it again and when I did I was fine. Now I have to find some good recipes...

After five years of using Singapore Maths, we've made the transition to Saxon 76. (I have the old hardback 3rd edition books). I usually start Saxon with the 54 book but I decided to keep on with Singapore for a while longer. I gave her a placement test about a month ago and I was pleasantly surprised that she managed it well as maths, unlike some of her siblings, hasn't been her favourite subject.


We started Classical Academic Press French for Children Primer B late last year and have been pleased with it. No surprise, as their Primer A was excellent. (I wrote a review here)
Stay tuned towards the end of January for a review of Primer B and a giveaway!

Moozle thinks she might be an architect (which is an improvement on a 'cat lady' i.e. having a house full of felines and occasionally selling one) and loves this series of DVDs which she watches with her Dad. She even drew up some plans for a granny flat to build for us when we get old!

This week we were reading about the element helium for science and this video my Aunty in Scotland posted recently was very timely!

Benj has enrolled at Campion College and will be studying a Bachelor of Liberal Arts Degree beginning in late February. He's only just turned 17 and in the past we've waited until our kids were 18 before starting university but Campion is a different kettle of fish to the large mainstream institutions. It only has about 200 students and receives no government funding. There was an intersting article recently in The Australian newspaper recently:

'...if our civilisation has a future in Australia, it is connected to Campion College. For Campion has done something that no other institution of higher learning has attempted in Australia. It has dedicated itself entirely to teaching undergraduates about the great tradition, based on the great books, of Western civilisation.

In the meantime he is doing a Swim Australia Teaching course, building up his night driving hours so he can get his licence, teaching piano, and heading off to a youth camp next week. Plus he will be using his great organising skills to clean up the pantry and the storage under the stairs for me.

Our Reading


Penrod by Booth Tarkington - this is a free read for Ambleside Online Year 6 which she enjoyed.

Silver Brumby Echoing by Elyne Mitchell - another book in a much loved series.

Tales of a Korean Grandmother by Frances Carpenter - written in 1947, these 32 traditional tales provide a peek into Korean culture.


 Lord of the Rings trilogy - his annual re-reading

The Martian by Andy Weir - just be aware there is some language in places, noteably on the first page. The film was very good and according to my eldest boy, the book is great, so he bought it for his younger brother for Christmas.

Older ones in the family read:

The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy

The Survivor by Vince Flynn with Kyle Mills - Sadly, Vince Flynn died about three and a half years ago. My husband really enjoyed his novels and as he'd read just about all his others, I bought this one. Sometimes authors who take on another's work do a complete hash but fortunately, this was done in a similar style and my husband enjoyed it.

And finally, for the Aussie mums out there (or any others who may be visiting Australia later in the year) the Mum Heart Conference will be held at Newcastle in June. I was so refreshed when I went along in 2015 so I felt very honoured to be asked to speak at one of the sessions and to run a Charlotte Mason workshop this year. Hope to see some of you there!

Linking up at Weekly Wrap-up
Keeping Company

Monday 9 January 2017

Back to the Classics 2017

 I love this challenge.  Here are my potential reads:

1.  A 19th Century Classic - any book published between 1800 and 1899.

 The Refugees by A. Conan Doyle (1893)
Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen (1811)

2.  A 20th Century Classic - any book published between 1900 and 1967.

The Keys of the Kingdom by A.J. Cronin (1941)

3.  A classic by a woman author

 The Rosemary Tree by Elizabeth Goudge (1956)
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (1926)

4.  A classic in translation.  Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. 

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1877)

5.  A classic published before 1800. Plays and epic poems are acceptable in this category also.

On Friendship by Cicero (44BC)
The Iliad by Homer  (c.760–710 BC)

A romance classic. I'm pretty flexible here about the definition of romance. It can have a happy ending or a sad ending, as long as there is a strong romantic element to the plot.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (1948)

7.  A Gothic or horror classic. For a good definition of what makes a book Gothic, and an excellent list of possible reads, please see this list on Goodreads

The Hound of the Baskervilles by A. Conan Doyle (1902)

8.  A classic with a number in the title. Examples include A Tale of Two Cities, Three Men in a Boat, The Nine Tailors, Henry V, Fahrenheit 451, etc.

The House of the Four Winds by John Buchan (1925)

9.  A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title.  It an actual animal or a metaphor, or just the name. Examples include To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, The Metamorphosis, White Fang, etc. 

 The Goshawk by T.H. White (1951)

10. A classic set in a place you'd like to visit. It can be real or imaginary: The Wizard of Oz, Down and Out in Paris and London, Death on the Nile, etc.

Under the Yoke by Ivan Vazov (1888) - set in Bulgaria. I'd love to visit any of the countries around the Balkans.

11. An award-winning classic. It could be the Newbery award, the Prix Goncourt, the Pulitzer Prize, the James Tait Award, etc. Any award, just mention in your blog post what award your choice received.

The Forgotten Daughter by Caroline Dale Snedeker (1933) Newbery medal

12. A Russian Classic. 2017 will be the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, so read a classic by any Russian author. 

Cancer Ward by Alexander Solzhenitsyn (completed in 1966; published in 1968)
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (1924)

Thursday 5 January 2017

Te Deum

Te Deum

Not because of victories 
I sing,
having none,
but for the common sunshine,
the breeze,
the largess of the spring.

Not for victory
but for the day's work done
as well as I was able;
not for a seat upon the dais
but at the common table. 

Charles Reznikoff (1894-1976) 

Thankful for my lovely daughters and daughter-in-law for a lovely birthday afternoon tea...

Grateful for fun in the sun

The pleasure of her first motor bike ride

Old school music

 Some new board games (see here for how Takenoko is played)

And a new card game - great for up to about 10 players

Playing with bunnies

Listening to podcasts for inspiration for the new year...

Looking forward to a new year and to the pleasure of connecting with my readers. I've enjoyed the rapport centred around books, ideas, and home education - feasting at the 'common table.' Thank you to all who have visited and commented or emailed me privately. It wouldn't be worth blogging if you didn't visit and talk to me! 

Linking up with Weekly Wrap-up and Finishing Strong