Imparting a classical education at home. Check out the Edwards Academy.

Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Edwards Academy Happenings, Part 2

We finished week one of a two week look at the Civil War. Is it really possible to learn about the Civil War in a two week period? I suppose if you are 7 and half and 5 and a half years old two weeks seems like an eternity!

Like most every American, I've occasionally been on a Civil War kick, reading all the related literature I could, riveted and amazed. Every time I read anew about Lincoln's assassination, I grieve. Last summer when I read the popular-with-homeschoolers novel Across Five Aprils I literally wept at the end when Lincoln died.

Of course, the best look at Lincoln's life, and by extension the Civil War, is Abraham Lincoln: The War Years by poet Carl Sandburg. This thorough history fills four volumes in it's original publication (a condensed-by-the-author version is available, Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and the War Years), but is well worth the time invested. Perhaps it is time for me to revisit these books, which I borrowed from the library when my seven-year-olds were babies.

Our writing assignments generally connect in some way with our history topic and we began a six-week newspaper project this week. This idea was received with cheers on Monday morning, but the reality of writing article outlines dampened the enthusiasm later in the week. Nevertheless, their hard work reaped deep satisfaction when each girl produced a lovely three-paragraph article about their subject. Hope filed a report about Frederick Douglass and Sydney about Harriet Beecher Stowe. Lane shed some tears that he wasn't given a writing assignment (he's still just spelling short-vowel words!) so I think next week I'll let him dictate his "story."

Coming up next week in the Academy...
More Civil War history, our GRACE homeschool group resumes after semester break, and Tobias turns TWO!
Also, I'm hoping to take the kids to Lewis & Clark and the Indian Country, a traveling exhibition that is currently at Wichita State University (until February 22) . This look at the explorers trip from the point-of-view of the American Indian should be a nice outing after spending a week with the Expedition in the Edwards Academy last fall. I'll let you know.

In Other News...
Our economy seems poised to reap a very bitter harvest after several years of sowing folly into the real estate markets. The dollar is (way) down, oil is (way) up, the stimulus package suggestions are mere band-aids offered by vote-hungry politicians, and the long term path to a healthy American economy is not palatable to most Americans. In short, there is plenty to worry about. But our God is not worried. He is not surprised. He takes a very, very long view, as should we.

From Psalm 9:
9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.

10 Those who know your name will trust in you,
for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you. (NIV)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Florence Nightingale and Nursing

Sydney and Hope were inspired by the life of Florence Nightingale when we studied her life last week. In their writing assignment, they were instructed to write a paragraph about nursing. Sydney loved this topic so much, she asked me to post her essay on the blog. Sydney is seven, midway through second grade.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Edwards Academy Happenings

Layering is a lovely part of the classical method of education. In our home academy, we are busy applying the first layer of chronological world history since our kids are mostly lower grammar age. And what fun it is!

The Christmas break marked for us the halfway point of Tapestry of Grace Year 3. Now on week 22, we are beginning the study of the Civil War. Last week covered Florence Nightingale, the Crimean War, The Charge of the Light Brigade, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Tubman, Follow the Drinking Gourd, and John Brown. Whew! That's a lot for one week! (For Tapestry users, we condensed a bit from week 20 and 21 last week, catching up from the half-week after New Year's.)

Our second grade daughters (twins) were captivated by the life of Florence Nightingale. Meanwhile, our five-year-old son latched on to the drama of The Charge of the Light Brigade.
(Painting by Richard Caton Woodville, 1854)
The battle map that we found really helped Lane (he's five) understand Tennyson's poem.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them,

I'm tempted to quote the full poem here, but instead you may find it here.

After blazing through the Crimean War in a day, we re-focused on the United States and pending Civil War. We beat a regular path to the library and thoroughly enjoyed Harriet and the Runaway Book by Johanna Johnston (unfortunately now out of print-check your library or find it used here).

Follow the Drinking Gourd is another family favorite. Our library has a video of this story by Jeanette Winter that is narrated by Morgan Freeman. [Thank you, Joel Bresler for clarifying that the video is actually a second story based on this folk song, not the one by Jeanette Winter--see his comment for more info. 1/15/08]

We read about abolitionist John Brown on Friday. As I read from John Brown: One Man Against Slavery, the kids drew illustrations of John Brown. This book about Brown's life is written in the voice of his daughter, Annie. She struggles with the moral judgments her father made, even as she admires his courage. This was Lane's first introduction to Brown (and the evils of slavery are just now being introduced to his tender heart).

As I read "They found Father guilty of treason. . . He was executed the next morning," Lane cut in and asked, "Did he believe in Jesus?" I looked up from the book and saw Lane standing by his desk, his face crumpled up and his fist near his eye, fighting back tears.

In four years, when Lane encounters John Brown as a nine-year-old, he'll be able to wrestle with the complicated nature of John Brown's abolitionism. For now it is enough to know that Lane understands that John Brown was a real human being who believed deeply in freeing slaves. And his life story was real enough to Lane that he mourned his loss. As Lane mourned, I celebrated the victory as his teacher.
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