Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Find

Last night, we went to the big city and did a bit of shopping. I needed to get Virginia some socks, and there were a few other things on our list.  We ended up in Barnes and Noble (of course), and I found this book for John Thomas.  He loves history, atlases and information about the great cities.  This book seemed to have it all.

The author, John Julius Norwich is not only an historian, but has had quite a celebrated life.  He served in the British Foreign Service and is a member of the House of Lords.  He was also a BBC personality.

In any case, John Thomas loves all of the marvelous pictures, maps and artwork that make up this handsome book.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Patrick Stewart's Scrooge

This year, we have decided to let Patrick Stewart do our reading of A Christmas Carol. We were able to download an abridged version of this great actor reading this great story. I can't tell you how much he brings to this role. We can almost see Marley's face on the door!

We have turned this annual reading project into a full-fledged unit study. I found a reading comprehension workbook full of vocabulary and writing exercises as well as information about Dickens and 19th century  England.  We even have one of the very inexpensive Dover coloring books we will be using. 

After we finish, we will all watch the Patrick Stewart version of the tale.  We bought this last year; it is still available on Amazon for under $7.00.  I have never seen a better adaptation.

Patrick Stewart had a marvelous one-man-show of this several years ago; I would love to have seen that.

Anyway, when we are finished with A Christmas Carol this season, the children will have something to add to their literature notebooks.  Many home-school families study the great literary works this way--this approach adds so much to comprehension and enjoyment.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fan Art From A Redwall Fan

Hey, everyone! James Martin again. As you know, the last time I posted, I posted about the novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol. I am also a huge fan of the Redwall books by Liverpudlian author Brian Jacques. I had the honor of meeting Mr. Jacques in 2006 when I attended a release celebration for his book, Voyage of Slaves, that is a part of another series he is working on. Here is some fan-art drawn by me, based off of the fight at the end of his book Redwall:

I based the art style off of a screen capture from the Redwall TV Series. I just finished reading that book for the third time in my life. It was great!

Thanks for reading and may your swords stay sharp! (Try to guess where that comment came from! *wink*)
James Martin Justus

A Very Rainy and Windy Day in the Willows

Wow! What a rainy and windy day.  Yes, it is the middle of the week, but I have decided to let the children have a day of reading today.  We will make up the day over the Christmas break.  I just think that this will be a great day to read, color, listen to Christmas music and have some hot chocolate.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Time for Dickens!

Well, the time of year to read Dickens' A Christmas Carol has arrived!  This will be the third or fourth year the children and I have read this together.  Last year we read it and then watched Patrick Stewart's presentation.  That was the best interpretation I have ever seen.  This has been a great school term--Washington Irving, Mark Twain and Charles Dickens!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Alice's Adventures In Wonderland

Hello! James Martin here! I just wanted to post about a book I just read called Alice's Adventures In Wonderland.

The book was written by a man named Lewis Carroll who love writing books for children. He modeled the character of Alice after his daughter, who shared the name "Alice" with the main character. He told the story to one of his friends, and she said that he should right it down and send it to a book publisher. So, he did. (He must have, or else there wouldn't be 2 Disney movies based on it, or have lines from the novels repeatedly quoted.)
Alice is sitting on a bank by a stream with her older sister on a warm, summer day when she sees a rabbit. The odd thing  about this rabbit was that he pulled a pocket watch out of his pocket! (Rabbits have pockets?) And he ran off. Alice, who was dreadfully curious, started chasing the rabbit until she saw the rabbit jump into a hole. That's when her adventures began. She jumped into the hole. She fell for what seemed like ages, but then, she finally came to the bottom. She kept shrinking and growing in the hallway in which she landed. She soon escaped, however, and met all sorts of zany creatures, such as the Hookah-Smoking Caterpillar, The Ugly Duchess, The Mock Turtle, The Mad Hatter, and my mom's favorite, the Chesire Cat.

I read this book in it's entirety on Monday. I really liked it! I am looking forward  to the two Disney movies based off this adventure. (The classic 1951 Movie and the Tim Burton movie that comes out in March.) I can now appreciate all the references in pop culture to the novel, including comic book villains, such as The Mad Hatter and Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, who think they are characters from Alice in Wonderland. I wonder what kind of impact this book will make in the next 25 years. Thanks for reading and have a nice day!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Blessed Time of Year

Friday, November 6, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Reading in the Willows

One of the greatest joys of my life has been reading to the children. When the boys were little, I'd put them in the bathtub with lots of Mr. Bubble, and we would read through a pile of books every night. Michael has also read to them--maybe even more. When they were still in public school, he read to them from the Bible and from a biography of a great Christian every morning as they ate breakfast. When I taught night classes or worked at my retail jobs, he would read the Little House stories to them.

We still read together. The boys and I are working through Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper; John Thomas and I are reading Don Quixote at lunchtime during the week. We just finished The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (again). These books have meant so much to us--they are like friends we visit and visit again.

A friend/relative of our's is homeschooling her children. She and her husband are both professional educators, and she taught in the public schools before her children were born. She makes reading the centerpiece of her homeschool. You should see how those children love to learn! The older boys can't wait until their reading time after supper every night.

A problem Michael and I both encounter with our students is that they are so reluctant to read! This is probably our biggest challenge, and my understanding from talking with others is that it is this generation. And they really seem to resist the classics; a few years back, I taught a group of really sharp, competitive students who were lamenting having had to read Robinson Crusoe!
How do we explain this? How can it be addressed? Please share your thoughts!

The Bible Broadcasting Network

This is a picture of our family at the headquarters of BBN--a wonderful Christian radio network. The gentleman in the middle is Dr. Lowell Davey, the President of the network. This network features some of the best of the best in Christian programming: Thru the Bible, Glad Tidings, Chuck Swindoll, Creation Moments--the list goes on and on. I particularly appreciate the music they play--traditional hymns! It is very difficult to find this type of music on the radio today.

I have listened to BBN since 1986. The kids listen to it today (the Captain's Club and Unshackled are their favorites) on the internet. They love the Sugar Creek Gang stories and Uncle Charlie on the Captain's Club. There really is something for the whole family here.

Check them out at

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Memories Made and Cherished

As I mentioned in our other blog, we read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow every October. Last year, I found the Disney version of this great tale. Tonight we are going to watch it together again. James Martin is popping everyone some popcorn. Dad has on his fuzzy p.j.'s and I think we are just about ready for the "feature presentation."

Our Sweet Family

What a fine-looking trio of scholars. This was our first day of school back in August. Don't let the height fool you: our oldest is the sedate boy in green on the right. The boys are doing so well with their program this year. A Beka requires intensive Bible study and memorization; their years of Bible Drill have really come in handy in so many ways. History is their favorite subject, of course!

Ima Virginia is also in the A Beka program. She loves math and her math teacher, Mr. Howe. I'm thrilled that someone in this family likes math!

We are working on some notebooking projects as well. Virginia and I will be starting one in Colonial History; the boys and I will be working on a study of the "Seven Wonders of the World."

I hope to post soon on notebooking; I think that is one of the best educational tools out there!

Better close for now. Hope you all have a lovely day tomorrow and a wonderful Sunday.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Welcome to our little schoolhouse!

Hopefully, by early next week, I will have our new templates up and running. We are all very excited about starting this homeschooling blog. The best part about this blog is that the children will be posting some of their thoughts and experiences! Thanks so much for all of the interest and support you have already shown. Wishing you a wonderful fall weekend!


Saturday, October 24, 2009

A New Blog

I am very excited about testing out this new blog site for our family. I will be adding a new template by Shabby Creations before too long.

God bless and keep each of you,
Janis & family