Aug 232012
 

Every year I make a list of topics to study with the kids, and every year I include hymn study. And every year I fail to get it done.

That doesn’t mean that my children do not know any hymns. They actually know many, many hymns. In fact, many more than I did as a child. Almost seven years ago, we left the mega-church that we had been members of for 5 years. (Actually my husband had been a member his entire life until he got married and moved away. Then we moved back and joined the same church.) One of the things that we were looking for in a new church was one that used hymns in worship. It didn’t have to be only hymns, but we were looking for a more traditional worship style. The Lord did lead us to a church that, among other things we were looking for, used hymns for congregational singing. This long digression can be summed up with, my children know hymns, but we have failed to learn about the hymns and hymn writers.

One of the reasons I think I’ve failed at implementing hymn study is that I tend to make it too complicated. This year I received a great resource that is a super simple way to learn more about hymns. The book is Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers by Douglas Bond. The book, published by Christian Liberty Press, is a fictional account of Annie and her brother Drew. While spending the summer in England with their parents (who really aren’t part of the story), they meet an old man affectionately known as Mr. Pipes. Mr. Pipes is an organist in the village and is very knowledgeable about church history and specifically hymn writers.

Annie and Drew quickly become friends with Mr. Pipes as he teaches them to fish, row a boat, and takes them on the train to London. During their visits, Mr. Pipes relates the story of a different hymn writer such as Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, John Newton, or William Cowper. Mr. Pipes is a great story-teller and the children are very interested to hear his tales.

Along with presenting the stories of the hymn writers, Annie and Drew are also growing in their faith. Their priorities and behaviors change from the beginning to the end of the book. There is evidence of spiritual growth in the characters.

I received this book with the intention of having my 12 year old daughter, Anna, read it. But now that I’ve read it, I have changed my mind. I would like to use it as a read-aloud for the whole family. Even though the book is recommended for grades 7-10, the story is engaging enough for younger children especially since they’re familiar with many of the hymns discussed. I like the idea of teaching about the hymn writers using a living book instead of just facts about the hymn writers. And rather than get all strict with it and making a schedule and finding extra things to go along with the study, I am allowing us the freedom to just read the book! (Shocking, huh? If you’re reading this and have never made plans that you didn’t use or purchased curriculum and never opened it, then you probably don’t understand what I’m saying at all. But I am finding it necessary to simplify. And I’m finding that simple is often better anyway!)

Another reason that I am not having Anna read it is that I received the pdf of the book. I own a Kindle (the old style with the keyboard) which I love. However, Anna doesn’t like it very much and much prefers “real” books. To  further complicate matters, this book is not in Kindle format (.mobi) but pdf. That means that one page of the book appears on the Kindle screen (which is smaller than the book). Thankfully, the pages in the book are not 8-1/2 x 11, but the words are just barely large enough for me to read in this format. (I do not need reading glasses yet, but I suspect they may be on the horizon.) Anna suffers from frequent headaches, and I fear that this type size would bring on a headache.

I am really pleased with this book, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a gentle way to study hymns and hymn writers. There are also 3 other titles: Mr. Pipes and Psalms and Hymns of the Reformation, Mr. Pipes Comes to America, and  The Accidental Voyage: Discovering Hymns of the Early Centuries. All the books are available from Christian Liberty Press. I’m personally tempted by this complete set of all 4. The pdf version of Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers is $8.79.

Please visit The Schoolhouse Review Crew to read more reviews of Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers.

 

Photobucket
Disclosure: I received a pdf copy of Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Aug 092012
 

Are you interested in history?

What about the development of language (English specifically)?

If so, I have a recommendation for you.

And even if you aren’t interested in history or the development of language, I think this book might just spark some interest.

The book is King Alfred’s English: A History of the Language We Speak and Why We Should Be Glad We Do by Laurie White.

King Alfred's EnglishI received a copy of King Alfred’s English to review. It is the Kindle version, so I was able to download it while I was on vacation. I read the introduction and knew immediately that it was going to be a good book. But I was on vacation, and when I got home I let various things keep me from getting back to the book until a couple of weeks ago. As my review deadline loomed, I knew I had to get reading.

However, I had no trouble at all finishing this book in time. (Getting the review written on the other hand is a different story!) This is without a doubt, the most interesting history book that I can remember reading. The author, Laurie White, has an engaging writing style. The book is easy to read, yet not simple. It is full of facts, but not dry or boring. She doesn’t use that annoying chatty writing style. (Obviously some people like it, but I ironically find it annoying. Not in blogs of course, but in books.) But even though the book isn’t chatty, it does almost feel like listening to an interesting speaker.

King Alfred’s English recounts the history of the English language. It describes the major influences of the language, and as a result, it discusses much of the history of England. It is not an in-depth history of England, but I found it to be a marvelous survey. I tend to get a bit OCD about historical books and start trying to make sure we read them when we’re studying that time period in history. And I guess you could stretch this book out and read it along with your history lessons, but I think this book is best to just read. If you’re familiar with some of the history, then it’s a great review for those parts. If some of the history is new, then it’s a wonderful introduction for more in-depth study.

Since I’ve been teaching (or more accurately, facilitating the study of) Latin to my children, I found it especially interesting to learn that Old English was an inflected language like Latin. Inflected means that the function of the words in the sentence is determined by the word endings. In Modern English, word order determines the meaning. As time passes, languages tend to simplify, and English lost the inflection. Since Latin is a dead language, it didn’t simplify to the same point that English has.

To say that English has simplified might make it sound like it is easy. That is of course, not true. The vocabulary in English far exceeds that of other languages. King Alfred’s English explains why. It also covers the Reformation in England and how it led to an English translation of the Bible. In addition, there is an interesting section on how the King James Bible has affected English.

In case you can’t tell, I highly recommend this book. It is available from Christianbook.com (current price is $14.89) and Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle (for $16.95 and $5.95 respectively). You can also find more information about the book as well as teacher helps and student pages at the author’s website, The Shorter Word.

 

Disclosure: I received a copy of King Alfred’s English to review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.This post contains an affiliate link.

Oct 232011
 

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I enjoy reviewing homeschool curriculum. I love comparing and contrasting different resources. Most of all, I love finding products that really work for my children. In addition to curriculum, I’m also a bit obsessed with researching methods of home education. I don’t think that this obsession is a reflection of a lack of satisfaction in my own teaching methods. I am just fascinated by all the different ways that children learn and how different people have implemented different learning strategies. Plus, I am always eager to see if there’s something else I should be doing to help my children learn.

When I was given the opportunity to review Educating the WholeHearted Child (3rd edition) by Clay Clarkson (with Sally Clarkson), I was very interested because it was a book that I had heard of, but never read. I thought I knew a little bit about the book, but I was mistaken! I thought the book was a “standard” size paperback book (maybe 250 pages max) that contained ideas to help you and your children enjoy learning together. What I found was much more!

This book is huge! It is has 376 (8-1/2 X 11 sized) pages full of information. In addition to the main text, each page has a sidebar filled with extra information such as supporting scriptures, quotes, and historical details. It is impossible for me to thoroughly cover this book in this single review, both because the book is so lengthy that a thorough review would be too long, and I honestly have not had time to digest all the ideas discussed.

My very abbreviated version of the Clarkson’s basic premise is this.

The Christian home should be the center of learning for the Christian family. Learning should be a natural part of family life, and the primary goal of any Christian family should be to raise children who love and serve Christ.

The subtitle of the book is A Handbook for Christian Home Education. This is an excellent title for what you’ll find in this volume. The book is divided into 4 large sections.

  1. Home
  2. Learning
  3. Methods
  4. Living

Within these sections are details of everything from how to train your children, how to be discerning about what you allow into your home, descriptions of different homeschool methods, various personality types, and a thorough explanation of their own method of home educating.

In their home, they divided all the various “subjects” into 5 different categories. These 5 D’s  are:

  • Discipleship Studies
  • Disciplined Studies
  • Discussion Studies
  • Discovery Studies
  • Discretionary Studies

Discipleship studies are the most important and include Bible knowledge, reading, devotions, and study.

Disciplined studies are the foundation of other study and are essentially the traditional 3R’s.

Discussion studies are history, geography, and fine arts. Included in this section are various methods like narration, reading aloud, and memorization.

Discovery studies include science, nature study, and foreign language.

Discretionary studies are all the extras. They discuss leaving time for private lessons, field trips, and really knowing your children’s strengths and weaknesses.

This only scratches the surface of what all you’ll find in Educating the WholeHearted Child. It’s really the compilation of the 20+ years of experience the Clarksons have in home educating their own family and ministering to other home educators.

I really appreciate their sharing all their knowledge and experience. But I must confess that certain parts of the book left me feeling more guilty than encouraged. I in no way think that this was their intent. Actually, I believe this is the complete the opposite of their intent. I am sure that they did not do all of the things listed, all the time, with all their children. But seeing them all in black and white, I began to think I was failing my children. They did say that all families were different and that every home would not look the same, but I still left feeling that somehow we weren’t measuring up to their standard of a Christian homeschool.

I do intend to spend more time reading this book. I want to read it slowly and allow more time to think and pray about what I’ve read. I wish I had read this years ago. I think I would have felt more encouraged reading it at the start of the journey than I do now, 8 years into it.

 

Educating the WholeHearted Child (3rd edition) is published by Apologia Educational Ministries. You can purchase a copy of the book from their website for $22.

 

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Educating the WholeHearted Child from Apologia to review. I was not compensated for this review and all opinions expressed are my own. This post contains an affiliate link.

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta