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, August 29, 2008

Grammar in Grammar School- Shurley English and Writing Aids

Bears ran fast. 
What ran fast?
Bears-subject noun
What is being said about bears?
Bears ran-verb
Ran how?

In the picture below you see Lane classifying the parts of speech in this short sentence. The Shurley English method takes a bit to get used to, but it is certainly effective.

Sydney and Hope are beginning Level 3 Shurley English and Lane is starting Level 1. Shurley English relies on oral jingles and question-and-answer flows to teach kids how to analyze a sentence. The rhythmic jingles make it easy to remember grammar rules. The lessons are scripted and although I don't always care for scripted teacher's manuals, this is an exception. I usually read the script, interjecting comments or ad-libbing a bit as I go and walk the kids through the new skills that they are learning.

Shurley English also teaches writing, which provides solid instruction (at least in the early years) in paragraph construction and the different forms of writing (narration, etc.). We use these assignments in Level 1 and 2, but for Sydney and Hope we are phasing in more and more of the Tapestry of Grace writing assignments and the Writing Aids instruction.

In the picture below you see Sydney and Hope working on a poster-size "Five W's" chart that they worked on today for our writing assignment related to Tapestry of Grace. This week we are talking a bit about some of the writing preparation tools, such as this 5 W chart. Using Tapestry of Grace's writing component enhances both our writing instruction and our history and literature studies.

After a week of World War I map studies and reading, the girls were fairly well prepared for analyzing the who-what-when-where-and-why of "What's the fighting in Europe all about?"

Literary Brilliance or Misappropriation?

The great writers and speakers routinely allude to Scripture and borrow its language. However, literary allusions work best when they call to mind to the reader or listener another great work and in doing so enhance the meaning of what is being said.

Scriptural allusions in American public discourse date back to perhaps the most beloved allusion by the Puritan John Winthrop when he spoke of the American settlement being a "city on a hill", which to his listeners obviously alluded to Christ telling his disciples, "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid." The implication was that what was happening there in the New World was being watched by all in the Old World and that their Christian society should be a model to the world.

Winthrop's listeners knew their Scriptures. Do Barack Obama's?

Last night in his acceptance speech, Barack Obama alluded to Scripture at least twice.

Instead, it is that American spirit -- that American promise -- that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

This came near the end of his remarks. He clearly borrows from I Corinthians 4:18: "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." But it also calls to mind Hebrews 12:2: "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (A little different than "that better place around the bend"!)

And Barack Obama concluded with:

We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise -- that American promise -- and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.

This conclusion takes biblical language from Hebrews 10:23: "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Of course, the author of Hebrews was clearly speaking of hope in Christ and Barack is applying the language to "the American promise."

For listeners who don't know their Scripture, it is a beautiful literary reference. And why not borrow the masterful language of Scripture to make a point, right? And yet, for those of us who believe that Scripture is the inspired word of God, Mr. Obama's allusion is a misappropriation of God's Word.

This illustrates why Edwards Academy kids are being homeschooled. How can we analyze and think about the soaring rhetoric of this speech if we do not put it into context spiritually? And what is that spiritual context? What exactly does Barack Obama mean when he (or his writers) run and grab these phrases from their Bibles?

The whole of Mr. Obama's speech stressed over and over what he believes a good American government should deliver to its citizens: jobs, equality, health care, prosperity, help, help, and more help. He even scorned the American idea of pulling yourself up "by your bootstraps" as the attitude of Republicans intent on abandoning the impoverished. In Barack Obama's world, being "on your own" is unbearable. (The rest of us call that freedom and liberty!)

Is this the hope we profess? I think it is a terrible misappropriation of Scripture to suggest that the American promise (which used to be liberty but Mr. Obama has redefined as government help) is anywhere on the level of the hope and faith we have in Christ.

This is heresy.

The transcript of Barack Obama's prepared remarks is found here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


This week Truth Treasure Hunters met together to make volcanoes, in honor of our study of Hawaii. Hawaii was annexed by the United States and became a U.S. Territory in June, 1900.

Our group's preschoolers had fun with salt-dough (above) and the school-age kids built a mud and clay mountain around a plastic bottle. The right mix inside created this bubbling, oozing "lava."

Here you see our crew standing behind their volcano (below).

After the eruption of the volcano, the kids relaxed with some popcorn, water, and playtime. With full tummies and quenched thirst, we spread out in the shade on blankets and had our sharing time. Already the kids seem to be enjoying this part of our time together. 

We are a shy family and standing up before a group is difficult, but I'm already seeing the kids relax a little and look forward to watching them get better and better at talking in front of a group. 

Each student shared something that they worked on in their Tapestry of Grace studies for Week 2. Sydney shared her picture study of a Matisse painting. Hope read her answers to the thinking questions related to the book Sounder, their literature assignment for weeks one and two. Lane talked about his draw and caption page on T. Roosevelt (the subject of a previous post.)

Our co-op topic and work that we share pertains to the week prior to our meeting. Since we don't have rhetoric level kids yet, it is okay to meet for the hands-on activity and discussion after we've all completed a week of reading, studying, and projects at home.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Liturgy for Toddlers

Mealtime prayers with toddlers in the house are inevitably a training session. (Actually, the entire mealtime is a training session for toddlers, from start to finish, but that's another post!)

When our babies first joined our table, perched in their high chairs, we were satisfied if we got through a meal with relative peace. It was exciting to see the first signs of our little ones imitating prayer time and we offered plenty of praise for the clasped hands and the shouts of "AMEN!"

Soon, however, our expectations began to rise. It was always at about this time that we added in our pre-prayer time routine of "Open Them, Shut Them."

You probably know this little poem:
Open them, shut them,
Open them, shut them,
Give a little clap!
Open them, shut them,
Open them, shut them,
Place them in your lap!

These days it is Toby who gets us started with "Open them..." He can't imagine prayers beginning without it and the poem is always followed by Mr. Edwards leading us in a prayer.

But the rest of us are a little fatigued. Because our Latin studies are teaching us Latin prayers, we are now dropping the "Open them, shut them" preamble in favor of The Sanctus as a beginning to our mealtime prayer.

I worried about persuading Toby to give up his favorite action poem, but instead he has joyfully embraced The Sanctus.

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus...
Holy, Holy, Holy...

I'm ready.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Now We are Six

Lane turned six recently. His birthday caps off our summer and kicks off our school year. Buckling down to a full school day is proving to be difficult for Lane, as well as the other Edwards Academy kids. So many other things seem to beckon (and for Lane in particular, his birthday gifts.).

With nearly two weeks of school behind us, I'm thrilled to see the changes in all four Academy kids. Everyone has more challenging work to do and all are discovering higher expectations from mom. The drawing above is Lane's "Draw and Caption" page on Teddy Roosevelt. He was asked to represent some key events of Roosevelt's adult life (last week he did the same for his young life). You can see Roosevelt in the White House (top), Roosevelt pointing to the Panama Canal on a map (middle), and Roosevelt hunting a water buffalo in Africa (bottom).

The objective of doing a draw and caption page is to develop some pre-writing skills of chronology and sequencing as well as to practice with some dialogue and narration. Lane usually dictates captions to me, but this page above was scanned in before he added captions.

When first given the assignment Lane despaired, "What do I draw?"
"Draw a picture of him as president." I suggested. "Look at your President coloring book or the President book for ideas."

"Okay!" And Lane was gone in a flash, off to draw. A little later he was back. (The swirls on the door are his attempt at drawing wood grain knots and swirls.)

"Now what?"

"How about the Panama Canal?"

"I don't know what it looks like."

"Well, could you draw Roosevelt pointing to a map of the canal?" I imagined Lane drawing another picture of a man standing next to a rectangle map on the wall. A smile came across my face when he returned with the picture (in the middle).

"Look! I copied my finger! That way it looks like a real finger!"

"Wow! That's fantastic!"

"Now what?"

"Remember when we read about Roosevelt going on safari in Africa? Remember the photo of him posing with the water buffalo that he shot?"

"Yeah!" He was off again, and once again I imagined him returning with a rendering of Roosevelt kneeling beside a dead water buffalo. Instead, he came back with this picture. Naturally, he wanted to capture the action of hunting, not the photo of the hunter and his prize. (Notice the red lines which show the path of the bullet!!)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Mr. Edwards

Mr. and Mrs. Edwards

Mr. and Mrs. Edwards

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." 

He is completing what He started in you, in me, and in us. I'm so grateful to be side by side with you in the process.
I am yours and you are mine.
I love you.
~Mrs. Edwards

Monday, August 18, 2008

Wright Flyers

Our new Tapestry of Grace Year 4 Co-op, Truth Treasure Hunters, had its first meeting today! We made models of the Wright Flyer. This was a challenging project, but we had a good time together.

This week we're studying more about the first decade of the 20th century: Roosevelt, the Panama Canal, Hawaii, and Billy Sunday. Coming up at our next co-op meeting: volcanoes!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lane Goes Fishing with Grandpa

By Lane Edwards (just before his sixth birthday) as told to Mrs. Edwards

It was a beautiful day when Grandpa and I went to the lake for a fishing trip. He came in his bronze Blazer to pick me up at 11:00 in the morning on Tuesday [August 12]. He was towing a silver fishing boat.

I got in the Blazer and sat on my booster seat next to the fishing poles. We buckled our seat belts and drove to Augusta where we had lunch at McDonald’s. After we had lunch, we got in the Blazer and buckled our seat belts. Then we drove to Butler County Fishing Lake.

We got the boat ready by taking off a metal bar from the motor and we unlatched it from the trailer in the back of the boat. Grandpa closed the drain plug. We loaded the boat with our fishing poles and bait buckets and backed the boat into the water. I sat in the front seat of the Blazer when we were backing it into the water. After Grandpa parked the Blazer, we climbed into the fishing boat and motored off. Grandpa’s boat has an outboard motor and a tiller for steering.

We went to the first place over on the west side of the lake, While we were on the west side, Grandpa taught me how to fish, but we didn’t catch any fish there.

So we moved to the south side of the lake. We didn’t catch any fish there. But we moved to the north side of the lake and didn’t catch any fish there. Then we moved back to the south side of the lake. I cast my rod into a shady place. Grandpa said, “That might be a good place for a fish.” So I waited and watched the bobber. I saw that my bobber was under the water. I felt the tug of a fish! I jerked the rod and reeled my fishing line in. I had a fish! It dangled from my string and I was reeling it in. We took it off the hook. My worm was gone. We put the fish on a string. It was a blue gill. Then we fished a little bit more. Grandpa caught a fish. I saw his bobber under the water. “Grandpa,” I said, “You got a fish!” He jerked it, he reeled it in and he put it on the same string that mine was on. It was a blue gill. Then we fished a little bit more.

Grandpa was getting hungry and so we went back for a snack in the Blazer. Then we went back to the south side of the lake, where we caught the fish before, but there were some people fishing there. So we went to a different place on the east side of the lake. On the shore there were two dry spots where there was gravel and there was a tree that stands by some rocks. I got my hook snagged on the tree. Grandpa wanted to push the boat closer to the shore with the pushing pole, but it was too deep to touch the bottom. Grandpa could not see my bobber, so then I had my pole and I lifted my pole and the line went up. Grandpa said, “Now I see it! Give the pole to me.” I gave him my fishing pole and he jerked it but it did not work. So we started reeling the line and the boat came closer to shore. Then we jerked it and it came loose. We fished some more on the east side, in that very same spot, but we did not catch anything. Then it was six o’clock. We motored the boat back to the Blazer and we drank pop. I drank root beer and Grandpa drank Diet Coke. We loaded the boat onto the trailer and pulled it out of the water. Then we unloaded our bait and fishing poles out of the boat and put them in the Blazer. Then we drove off.

“A few miles,” Grandpa said, “to Augusta and we’ll eat at McDonald’s there and eat dinner.” I didn’t think we were going to get home by sunset so I went on thinking that we were going to get there by the middle of the night, but we got there in time. It was sunset. The sun was halfway down. I went inside, got my pajamas on, and went to bed.

Editor's note: Thanks again, Grandpa Edwards, for taking Lane fishing for the afternoon and evening! 

Speak the Truth

"Mosab Hassan Yousef is an extraordinary young man with an extraordinary story. He was born the son of one of the most influential leaders of the militant Hamas organization in the West Bank and grew up in a strict Islamic family.

Now, at 30 years old, he attends an evangelical Christian church, Barabbas Road in San Diego, Calif. He renounced his Muslim faith, left his family behind in Ramallah and is seeking asylum in the United States..."

Read the rest of this article, which has an interview with Mosab Hassan Yousef (by Fox News).

Meanwhile, I read this passage from Isaiah 40 this morning in my quiet time:

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

Monday, August 11, 2008

TOG Year 4: Truth Treasure Hunters Kick-Off

This week families in the TOG Wichita Co-op, called Wichita Truth Treasure Hunters, are starting school. We're diving into week one of TOG Year 4: The 20th Century.

The first day and week of school sets an important tone for the year. In the Edwards Academy, we have some adjustments to get used to. For one thing, two-year-old Toby needs to learn some basic school-day protocols. I know that the first few weeks will often be interrupted as I teach him not to wander around pulling things off of others' desks, not to make sound effects in his play, and so on. Meanwhile, nearly six-year-old Lane will be discovering that he has more assignments and more "real work" than he did last year. Finally, Hope and Sydney will be adjusting to more independent reading assignments and some different routines. For starters, we are using Spelling Power this year and adding Latin to our subjects.

For Tapestry studies this week (history, geography, worldview, literature), we are looking at events of the first decade of the 1900s. Helen Keller published her life story in 1905 and we are reading about her. Theodore Roosevelt became president after McKinley's assassination. Christians in China were cruelly persecuted during the Boxer Rebellion. Oklahoma achieved statehood. The Wright brothers flew their Flyer at Kitty Hawk.

Over the next nine weeks, Truth Treasure Hunters will be meeting together for hands-on activities, opportunities to read written work, and field trips. For our first unit, we plan to build model Wright Flyers, make volcanoes (as we study Hawaii), make periscopes and submarine display boards (as we study WWI and U boats), and decorate eggs as Faberge eggs (as we learn about the Russian revolution). We'll celebrate the completion of Unit 1 with a dress-up night in which students dress as someone who lived in the first thirty years of the 20th century. We'll sample some Hawaiian treats and show off all our hard work to family and friends.

(Images from Wikipedia. Click for link to original source.)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Loss and the Valley of Humiliation

This picture of my dad and Toby scrubbing boat cushions was taken last October. Hasn't Toby changed? Unfortunately, all the pictures we took since then are lost, except for the ones that I posted on the blog or published in photo books. And, thankfully, our hundreds (I'm not kidding) of camp photos are still on the camera cards.

What happened? My beloved MacBook hard drive crashed. Right now the laptop is in for warranty service and we're using our old Mac Mini, which runs Panther (I'm missing Leopard right now, and if you don't get that I guess you are a Windows user!). I hope to get the MacBook back in a week and a half.

I was numb, shocked, disbelieving, accepting, and--finally--at peace with this minor tragedy, all within the last two days.

The whole thing was humiliating, however, because I know I should have had my data backed up. We just never did get an external hard drive and follow through with doing that. I begged the technician at the Apple dealer to try to recover my data, knowing all the while he couldn't possibly care like I do about those photos and home schooling files.*

I'm moving on, however, and even looking forward to a clean slate when we get the MacBook back. Even so, it is a big bummer to only have a few hard copies of school-related files and an older version of a sprawling Excel planning worksheet (but thank you, Tonya, for sending me that old copy that you had in email!).

Now after suffering from the grief of hard-drive-failure and data loss, I'm devoting myself to hard-drive-failure awareness. Do you have an external hard drive and back up your system frequently? As the Apple technician told me, "You can get any brand and about 120 gig for only a hundred bucks or so. Look for one with a firewire port. Leopard's Time Machine will handle it for you."

Of course. Silly me. Why on earth didn't we do this before?

*In case you are wondering, I did have my book manuscript saved in another place and did not lose any significant data on that project. Also, I'm now very thankful that I couldn't resist adding lake pictures to the blog over and over all summer. Because now they are all I have. I planned to make a summer photo book when summer was over, but I hadn't printed any yet. So, memories will have to suffice.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Family Camp

We've returned from our annual vacation at Village Creek Bible Camp. You might wonder why we drive twelve hours every summer for family camp. For starters...
  • Atmosphere. Village Creek Bible Camp is nestled in a valley not far from the Mississippi River in northern Iowa. We enjoyed highs in the upper 80s, cool evenings, starry nights, and misty mornings.
  • Spiritual Renewal. Family Camp gives us a week to spiritually recharge. The daily chapel services in the morning and evening have inspiring worship music and moving speakers. Our kids have classes led by counselors who love Jesus and lead them in games, songs, and Bible lessons.

  • Challenges. Family Camp has activities like the Tree Climb. Sydney climbed all the way to the top, sixty feet in the air, for the first time this year. Hope did it again this year, and Lane made it part way up.

  • Family Time. The Men and Boys breakfast (Lane and his cousin are pictured below) gave Mr. Edwards and Lane an early breakfast in the woods. The guys charged a hill, cooked "boar meat" on sticks over an open fire, smeared charcoal all over their faces, drank Mountain Dew, and heard from the word of God.

  • Tea Party. Sydney, Hope, and I had tea together at the Girls Tea Party. Our hostess read "The Princess and the Pea" and spoke about being true princesses. Like the princess in the story, genuine princesses who are children of the King will be unable to sleep with sin that is unconfessed. We had lemonade, tea, truffles, tarts, and gummy butterflies. (The Edwards girls are pictured with their friend.)
  • The Lake. The swimming lake is the main destination every afternoon. One of the Edwards family highlights was Toby speeding down the big black water slide. I stood at the bottom, thinking I would catch him. Instead, he came at me like a bullet and knocked me flat. Only my hat was above water! But no one had a camera for that one.

  • Instruction Hours. There are so many possibilities for instruction hour activities, it is impossible to do them all. We found time for: archery (Lane shoots his arrow, below), paintball gun range, pony rides (Toby is shown below), beading, creek stomping, rockets, trampoline, and leather crafts.

  • Arena Lessons. For an extra fee, Sydney and Hope had an arena lesson every morning for an hour. They learned the basics of riding and leading a horse as well as caring for a horse.

  • Kayaking on the Mississippi. Every year Mr. Edwards and I kayak about four miles on the Mississippi along with a group of campers. We usually see bald eagles and other wildlife. This year was no exception. We also watched an enormous barge pass by the main channel carrying coal up river. As we stood on the sandy shore of the beach we had kayaked to, the passing barge created a swirling suction of water current. It was thrilling and fearful all at once.
  • Family Assistants. Village Creek family camps assign staff assistants to each family for the week. We were blessed with two: Abbie and Taylor. Abbie is a college student and has been working at Village Creek for most of the summer. Taylor is a high schooler who participated in the JUMP program, which is an introduction to working as a camp counselor. The family assistants at Village Creek are the jewels of the camp experience. These young men and women are passionate about Jesus and serving Him. Their summer experience is hard, hard work but they are discipled and trained for service by the full-time camp staff. The picture below was taken right after we arrived at camp. As soon as we stepped out of your car we were matched with our assistants. After initial greetings they asked, "What can we do to help you get settled? Would you like us to take your kids over to the playground?"   Abbie and Taylor were tremendous helpers and outstanding role models for the Edwards children. What a blessing!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...