Saturday, July 09, 2011

Let the ordering begin...

I went ahead and began to order books today. The last couple of weeks of planning and list-making has been a challenge. And I had some battling to do within myself. Which is normal for me, but I have a new perspective on it. I so often waiver between what I want to do, what I feel like we've been led to do, but then I get scared and think I can't do it and then I try to change things up and it makes everything so much more complicated. And then I try to make my book lists "perfect" so we don't "miss anything" and it ends up being so stressful and unpleasant.

So I took a deep breath, and I was honest with myself. I can't make anything perfect. What I can do is to stick with what has worked, adjust it as necessary, and make that fit into the "high school transcript" paradigm.

So, in short, we are not all doing ancients next year. In fact, none of us are. With all of our starting and stopping with history over the years, as well as with our love of mythology, we have spent a lot of time in ancient times. Looking at the big picture, there were other things I wanted to cover. Therefore, Ambleside will be our framework, as usual. Austin's framework will begin with Year 8 Lite, Riley's framework will be Year 7 lite, and Reece's framework will be Year 3. I chose the lite versions for both of the big kids (there is no 'lite' version in the younger years, so I'll just pick and choose books as I see fit) because the books are very meaty and challenging. I don't want us to feel unnecessarily rushed trying to fit it all in.

Riley's history time period will be the middle ages, and Reece and Austin will be in the Renaissance and Reformation. I don't have time today to list out the books, but I will work on posting the rest of the book lists this coming week, I promise!

With the coming election season, I decided this would be a good time to study our government in more detail. Ambleside has a selection of books listed, but I didn't really care for them. Instead, I went with a recommendation from the Well-Trained Mind called The Complete Idiot's Guide to the American Government. We will read through it slowly over this year and the early part of next year, and it will tie into our current events study (which is going to be new for the big kids this year). Then the kids will read through the foundational documents of our government as they come to them in their history studies. When this is done, I will award 1/2 Government credit to Austin.

For Geography, Reece will read a book about Marco Polo (she should be able to read this to herself!!), Riley will read a book called The Brendan Voyage, and Austin will read The Life of Christopher Columbus. The Brendan Voyage looks exceptionally interesting. Here is a description from amazon:
Could an Irish monk in the sixth century really have sailed all the way across the Atlantic in a small open boat, thus beating Columbus to the New World by almost a thousand years? Relying on the medieval text of St. Brendan, award-winning adventure writer Tim Severin painstakingly researched and built a boat identical to the leather curragh that carried Brendan on his epic voyage. He found a centuries-old, family-run tannery to prepare the ox hides in the medieval way; he undertook an exhaustive search for skilled harness makers (the only people who would know how to stitch the three-quarter-inch-thick hides together); he located one of the last pieces of Irish-grown timber tall enough to make the mainmast. But his courage and resourcefulness were truly tested on the open seas, including one heart-pounding episode when he and his crew repaired a dangerous tear in the leather hull by hanging over the side--their heads sometimes submerged under the freezing waves--to restitch the leather. A modern classic in the tradition of Kon-Tiki, The Brendan Voyage seamlessly blends high adventure and historical relevance. It has been translated into twenty-seven languages since its original publication in 1978.

The book on Columbus comes from his own journals, so that should be fascinating, as well! We will coordinate mapwork to go with each journey. Additionally, the kids will be locating the places they read about in their other subjects on maps, globes, and atlases.

We are going to attempt timelines and a Book of Centuries again this year. We have had horrible luck making these work in the past, but I'm going to try again with Austin and Riley. I am afraid this is one area where I'll have to practice "good enough" thinking.

As I mentioned earlier, the big kids will be studying Current Events. I am going to subscribe to World magazine for a Christian perspective, but I would like a more traditional media perspective for them to compare. I am considering Newsweek, but I'm very open to suggestions.

We will do an introduction to Economics with the book Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? I have heard good things about this book, so I thought it would be a gentle introduction. I don't know where we'll go from there with Econ, but I do know that I want to use Dave Ramsey's books for the personal finance portion.

I guess that will be all for today. I need to list our family lessons still, as well as the books for history and literature. That will come this week! Thanks for your patience!

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