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.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Edwards Academy Happenings, part 3

We've gone to Africa for two weeks.
Well, not really.
"But we are traveling there in books!"

In our 27th week of Tapestry of Grace, Year 3, we are studying about Africa in the 1800s. We are traveling with Dr. David Livingstone as he explores and tries to stop the slave trade--and we are also going along with newspaperman Stanley has he hunts for the missing Livingstone. Meanwhile, we are learning about African geography, peoples and tribes, and animals. Next week the kids will be interviewing their grandparents, who lived in Africa for several years, about their experiences there as missionaries.

Meanwhile, they are busy making "Africa" lapbooks as they listen to the tales of Livingstone and Stanley. Tapestry suggests some wonderful books (such as Escape from Slave Traders) and we stumbled on a great out-of-print book, With Stanley in Africa by Olga Hall Quest, which I picked up from the Blooms' used book kiosk at last year's homeschool convention. We've just begun the book, but it is so exciting I imagine I'll start watching for books by Olga Hall Quest. (Why aren't kids given these sorts of books anymore? No wonder textbook-fed kids say history is boring!)

Separately, we recently started studying Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day, an elementary zoology book from Apologia Science. Our little academics loved chanting "Kingdom-Phylum-Class-Order-Family-Genus-Species!" and will probably never forget it. So I was especially triumphant when our newspaper reported the discovery of a new frog species and the Edwards students practically clambered across the breakfast table to read the article. "The first in 22 years!"

Thanks to the Veritas Press literature lists, we are reading Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat, which complements our bird studies perfectly. In this lively tale, two Canadian boys catch and keep a couple of owls as pets. We are using some worksheets from Jim Cornish at Gander Academy that are available free online. We also found some fun owl resources (thank you Mrs. B) from which files these owl-themed ideas with their suggestions for studying the book Owl Moon, by Jan Yolen.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Saying No To Webkinz

After perusing the homeschooling blogosphere I discovered that plenty of homeschoolers, who often pride themselves in swimming upstream, are happily swimming in the school, so-to-speak, of Webkinz.

I am alarmed.

Of course, there is much to recommend about Webkinz. They're cute. It's a blast to set up their online home, play the online games, and chat--don't-worry-it's-very-safe--online. Hey! It even teaches kids how to be responsible and manage money. And guess what? The games for earning Webkinz cash are educational.

So what's not to love? No harm, no foul, right?

Maybe not.

This whole craze is hitting my radar because our twin daughters seem to be surrounded by Hannah-Montana-loving kids who talk of nothing but Webkinz, leaving them feeling a little out-of-the-loop. (I pointed out that not everyone in Sunday School has them and not everyone in our homeschool group. But feeling left out is rarely cured by rational thinking!)

I first encountered Webkinz sometime early last year and I imagine the phenomenon will be peaking in six months to a year from now. Still, in the meantime, why put my girls through such hardship to be the only ones around without a Webkinz? Why not go ahead and get a couple?

For starters. . .

Webkinz, if you haven't noticed, is a kiddie version of Second Life or similar virtual-world gaming that allows grown-ups (okay, at least they are chronologically grown-up) to create an avatar with a full life, complete with a job, a mortgage, a relationship, and all manner of fantasies. This sort of gaming often ends up destroying the real-world life of the grown-up controlling the avatar. It seems that some discover they enjoy their fake life and their fake spouse better than the real one. This sounds absurd, but it is no joke.

Webkinz, secondly, is a time-drain. As someone who already spends too much time on my laptop and frets that this blog is a silly waste of time, I am not looking for a way to introduce computers to my children as something other than a tool. Yes, we don't waste time in a homeschool standing in line and walking in hallways, but it still takes time to get through a quality school day. Our free time is already packed full with books, classic movies, more books, Legos, art projects, and dolls. Am I willing to give something up for Webkinz?

Webkinz doesn't fit the mission. I've blogged before about being guided by a mission (Family with a Mission) that says, "The Edwards family lives to serve Jesus Christ and train our children to live a life in His service." Obviously we do plenty of things for entertainment and relaxation that doesn't appear to support the mission (watching movies, etc) but Webkinz seems to encourage a habit that detracts or at least distracts from the mission.

Webkinz encourages materialism. This point was made by my husband. Just the other night we were noticing how shows like "Extreme Makeover:Home Edition" preach a message of materialism. "Is your life hard? Are you beset by tragedy? Let us give you a huge, new, shining house. You deserve it! All will be well! Stand in awe! Hey! We're even throwing in a new car!" I saw one Webkinz proselytizer blogging that her offspring were learning to save their money . . . so they could buy more Webkinz. The focus is all wrong.

The convictions of my husband and me might not be so convincing to our daughters. This whole topic came up when I was working with the girls on their Bible Study Fellowship last week. When we discussed what it meant to "take up your cross and follow Him," one of our girls suggested that not having a Webkinz when everyone else does was a bit of a cross to bear. Indeed. But the pain of this particular cross is not so much from missing the pure fun of a Webkinz as the pain of having friends whispering about their Webkinz codes and not whispering to you.

Girls will always be whispering about something, though, and Mr. Edwards and I are proud of our girls working through this hardship. Hopefully the experience will teach them how to be a good friend, how to handle relationship troubles, and most of all how to follow after Him.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Having a Capital Time at the Capitol

We visited Topeka and the Capitol building last week with our homeschool group. After reading John Steuart Curry: The Road Home, our kids were thrilled to see the giant Curry murals in the Capitol. After reading about John Brown and the Civil War, they were very interested in his giant portrait.

Our kids were amazed by the old cage elevator, the glass floor in the State Library, the House and Senate chambers, the murals, and the ceremonial office of the Governor. We stood on the first floor and gazed up at the inner dome at the top of the Rotunda. Our historic tour took us into both the House and the Senate and the dome tour took Hope and my husband up to the look-out at the top of the dome.

I've always loved the Kansas Capitol since the days my grandparents took me there just to walk around. It was great to be back.
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