"'Education is the Science of Relations'; that is, that a child has natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts: so we train him upon physical exercises, nature lore, handicrafts, science and art, and upon many living books, for we know that our business is not to teach him all about anything, but to help him to make valid as many as may be of––
'Those first-born affinities,
That fit our new existence to existing things.'"

Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education
with a quote from The Prelude by William Wordsworth

Friday, September 5, 2014

Handwriting Fonts for Free

Handwriting fonts are a great idea if, for example, your 8th grader has just gone off to school and is now expected to write in cursive.  Yes, he had a cursive book that he sort of did, and his older brother learned cursive so quickly, and, but...

They are also a good idea for my younger son still homeschooled in order to create copywork based on Connect With History rather than have him separately work on penmanship (and he needs some work in that subject.)

Forget about Getty-Dubay or D'Nealian or any other font from educational vendors as they are cost-prohibitive.  Isn't there something among the thousands of free fonts out there?

I have found a nice grouping at Fontspace tagged "instructional" here.  You can get block, manuscript, and cursive (Learning Curve Pro is particularly good.)  You can also get fonts for music, sign language, and creating crossword puzzles (boxes with numbers in the corner.)  Some are solid, others dotted, and others with the paper lines included.

Wish I had found these years ago--some of them were created as early as 2007!  Now my 8th grader can type his assignment using Learning Curve Pro and then use that as a visual guide to transcribe his work in his own hand onto paper.  So long as he does not have to write in cursive in class.

Here is how you install them in Windows.  Once you download them, you will need to extract the files from the zip format (right-click and choose "extract all files".)  You need the files ending in .ttf or .otf (the latter is better if you get it.) Next, open the Control Panel and select Fonts.  You can copy and paste or just drag the files into the Fonts directory and you are done!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Professional Book Narration for a Song!

This will work only if you have a Kindle or Kindle app and device capable of installing the Audible app, which are available on both the Apple and Android platforms.  It is a really great way to get very cheap audiobooks and you don't have to have an Audible account to get them.

Amazon has a neat feature for some books called Whispersync for Voice that allows you to synchronize your visual book with you audiobook.  Let's say you are reading a book on your Kindle at bedtime.  The next day, when you go off in the car, you can synchronize your audiobook to wherever you left off reading.  That night, when you want to read more, you can synchronize to where the audio left off.  It works really well!

What's even better is that some books in the public domain--the kind homeschoolers are often reading--offer both the visual and audio books for incredibly cheap prices.  For example, Great Expectations Kindle edition is free and you can add on the professionally-narrated audiobook for a mere $0.99!  (Anyone that has listened to a poorly-narrated book will appreciate the benefit of professional narration.)  Once you buy it, just open the Audible app and it will show in the library for you to download onto your device.  It is very simple to use and I have found it very handy!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Gardner Museum

Another wonderful field trip we took this week was to the Gardner Museum.  Back in the late 19th and early the 20th century, Isabella Stewart Gardner used her wealth to collect art.  She then build the museum to house her impressive collection and show it to the world.  She had to expand the building once in her lifetime.  The gorgeous new wing, a contemporary building built beside the original and now the official entrance, just opened about a month ago.

Upon her death she left an endowment for the museum with the stipulation that the art be left as she placed

All children up to age 18 are always free. Typically adult admission is $15, but visiting with my mother and aunt we again made use of a library pass that allowed up to 4 adults to be admitted for $5 each.  The museum is well worth it.

The boys did really enjoy the art and wondering through the many rooms.  Everyone was impress with the beautiful courtyard mosaic and garden at the center of it all.  We may go again with our history co-op as we are studying the late middle ages/early renaissance and the museum has an abundance of pieces from this period.

The museum was the target of a highly publicized and yet unsolved theft in 1990 when 13 pieces were stolen including two by Rembrandt.   The empty frames remain on the wall keeping vigil in hopes of their contents' return.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Constitution Museum

We are on a two-week break from our typical schooling schedule.  Taking advantage of museum passes, we are taking some field trips to area museums.  Today we visited the Constitution Museum at the Charlestown Navy Yard.  While we couldn't board her, we did get to walk beside the U.S.S. Constitution.

We needed to go through security in order to enter the visitor center and the part of the yard where she is docked.  We pretty much had the whole place to ourselves, being mid-winter in Boston during school.
One ship we could board was the U.S.S. Cassin Young, a World War II destroyer in dry dock.

We actually first went into the Constitution Museum, a small facility dedicated to facts and artifacts from the ship. The picture to the left was taken near the entrance.

The upstairs is a large hands-on children's center where kids can experience and learn about life at sea in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Ds#2 cleverly set himself up like this for a picture. 

Because today was St. Valentine's Day, the museum had a large spread of pastries, bagels, coffee, and juice for anyone to enjoy.  Mostly they were employees of the museum, visitor center, or military working on the ships, though we enjoyed some of the festivities ourselves!

Even without a pass the museum has a very low admission price, which is even voluntary.  This made a great half-day field trip.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

World War II

This is the subject Ds#1 wanted to study this year.  With Memoir '44 being his favorite board game it was hardly a surprise.  Between what I already had and the recommendations in For the Love of Literature by Maureen Wittmann (which I now have on my Kindle), I was able to easily put a unit together.

For spines I have several books. World War II for Kids: A History with 21 Activities by Richard Panchyk; and America: The Last Best Hope (Volume II) by William J. Bennett.  (I see that a Volume III is coming out next month covering 1988 to 2008.)  I also have a couple of OOP books for younger kids: The First Book of World War II by Louis L. Snyder and America Moves Forward by Gerald W. Johnson.

The Landmark Book series has a lot of titles on the subjects.  I own eleven of them, plenty to keep my kids reading.  If you are not familiar with this series, they are non-fiction books told in a story format.  They have too much fact to be historical fiction yet the details in the dialogs, for example, are made up.  I suppose you can consider them on the factual end of historical fiction.

Bethlehem books has quite a few WWII historical fiction titles that my boys are enjoying, like Penny for a Hundred for Ds#3, The Secret War of Sergent Donkey for Ds#2, and Enemy Brothers for Ds#1.  We own these.

Some of Maureen's recommendations include Twenty and Ten by Claire Hutchet Bishop.  We were able to borrow Miracle at Moreaux, the film based on it.  She also listed Against the Dayan out of print book by Michael Cronin that turns out to be the first in a series of three that can still be gotten cheaply through used book sellers. We're waiting for them to arrive.  She recommends some great picture books that I got from the library like The Snow Goose and The Secret Seder.

I purchased Saint Maximilian Kolbe: Mary's Knight by Patricia E. Jablonski and Saint Edith Stein: Blessed by the Cross by Mary Lea Hill, both in the Encounter the Saints series.  I even found a 1959 biography of Pope Pius XII by Richard Cushing in the juvenile section of a local library, though it was also in a college collection.  At 180 pages maybe Ds#1 could read it, but I'll have to read through it first.

I've put my husband on the task of recommending some classic WWII movies--John Wayne comes to mind but I am sure there's many more.  So far Ds#1 is reading the historical fiction faster than I can get them in, and that's a good predicament to be in.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Visit to the Seminary

 As you can see by the picture above, our homeschool co-op has a LOT of boys.  Two families could not make the trip, one with 3 boys and the other with 3 boys and 3 girls.  Our group "adopted" a seminarian when he first came to our diocese from Colombia last year, and this was our first chance to meet him in person. Our adopted seminarian is the first man on the left, and his fellow Colombian seminarians are next to him.  The third man has been here only 3 weeks, yet he has done well in his struggle to master English (after already learning Latin, Greek, and Italian.)  They provided the pizza while we brought the salads and desserts.  They were just a delight to spend time with; our group had a wonderful time.  With all the "noise" in our society, we were blessed to add this experience to all the other vocation options our children see to help them discern to what vocation God will call them.  I can't wait to go back!

Constitution Day book

Eva March Tappan's book, The Story of Our Constitution, would make for some great reading for today, Constitution Day.  You can read the entire text online at Heritage History or download the pdf from Google Books.