Thursday, March 10, 2011

Living Books

In the homeschool world there is the term Charlotte Mason and "living books". We LOOSELY follow Charlotte Mason...very loosely. She was an educator from the 1800's and had some wonderful ideas about how kids learn. Now, for me, I still find myself wondering if my kids are "getting enough" so it is difficult for me to embrace the entire Charlotte Mason idea.

What I LOVE about Charlotte's ideas is here belief that we should teach our children, not through textbooks, but by immersing your kids in great books. Not books like Junie B Jones. No matter how funny those books are, they are just not great models for children to learn how to write well nor do they expose kids to interesting and stimulating ideas. I'm talking great books like Anne of Green Gables, Mr. Popper's Penguins, etc. Books that introduce new vocabulary to children, that are not full of silly dialogue but use descriptive language to really draw you in, books that are interesting to read but teach about history or science at the same time.

BUT, I struggle knowing what constitutes a "living book". I mean, you can tell by looking at Junie B Jones books that they are not "living books". But I have a hard time knowing what IS a living book. Well, we found one. Thankfully Charlotte Mason lovers are all over the homeschooling world so that means that there are more and more book guides that are being written by families who have discovered great living books.

A friend who did Creation to the Greeks last year passed me the book Theras and His Town and said that her 5th grader did the book and a study guide to go along with it when they did the program. Now that we have hit the Greek civilization in our studies, I passed the book and guide to Sissy and let her know that was her next assigned reading. She is really enjoying this book and is enjoying the study guide. The Study Guide is by Queen Homeschool says "Learning History Through Living Books". That tag line really helped me know that this book would fit into the "living book" category!

Sissy was telling her dad and I about the book at dinner and Peanut said, "I'd like to do that book too mom." So today she was able to catch up with Sissy and they are going to do the project together. The idea is for them to read it together, taking turns aloud and then work on the guide itself. It is a sweet moment when you see your children truly enjoying reading together.

The study guide goes chapter by chapter (or lumps two chapters together) and rather than having a bunch of question/answer items, it has things like:

1. Research the Acropolis and write a description of it.

2. Begin a list of Greek Gods and Goddesses and write what they were known for next to their name.

3. Find a copy of the Greek alphabet and copy it into your notebook.

4. Look up the word "himation" and define it.

I love that they have brief topics to research that go along with the book. This is one company's guides that I'll be using again.

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