Refreshment for Mom


There are a few seats left in my new class* offering! If you are the sort that prefers to quietly nourish your heart and mind, I think you will like these sessions. If you are wondering what the classes are like, just click on the picture and it will take you to the LEL page which explains the format of the classes.  At the bottom of the page are reviews from past participants that you might find helpful. I hope to see you there.

Teaching from Peace,


*begins Wed., April 19th from 7-8 central

Living Geography Series

In a previous post, Conversations With Maps, I outline how we do Geography based on Mason's advice and principles. There are many aspects to Geography study such as humanistic (descriptive) and scientific (involving science and math).  Mason wanted BOTH to be part of Geography. So, being drawn to a country by reading something literary and learning to care for the people and land of that country is important, but so is understanding the land formations, natural resources, and longitude and latitude of the land, as well as being able to draw the country from your mind's eye.

Today I want to share with you a brand new find for me!  These books encompass so much of the more humanistic or literary way of going about Geography. My friend Sandy first mentioned them to me and I have since been collecting them as I come across them, but I thought you might want to know about them as they do exactly what we hope a title we have chosen for geography might do! Seriously, these are the sweetest books!

Now, this is a series and aside from the wonderful Geoffrey Trease (who has written many titles in the series), each title is by a different author. Which means that they most likely are not all created equal. They are The Young Traveler Series! The New York Herald Tribune Book Review says:
Excellent in the first four titles. Informational stories seldom turn out as well as these...They would be a godsend to any family really planning to travel; but they are also good armchair reading, and we can imagine many uses for them in supplementary school work. Each takes up many aspects of the country besides the picturesque scenes all travelers love, such as government, crops, industry, festivals; history is woven in as various landmarks are seen. Best of all, the books are up-to-date, with references to the recent war.  We enjoyed all the books.
I think most were written in the 1950s, so they aren't terribly up-to-date. In each book, a young person around 13 travels to the title country and experiences the lay of the land with a citizen of that country.  The books begin with a charming map, too. Sketches and black and white photographs abound.

The books originated in Great Britain.  All of my copies are the American Editions.  Here's what that means:
These truly remarkable books have already won great popularity in Great Britain and it occurred to us that if they could be brought before American children then would contribute enormously to the interest of our young people in the various countries covered.

To this end we were fortunate enough to obtain the services of Frances Clarke Sayers, formerly head of work with the children a the New York Public Library, to "Americanize" the text, making the "Young Traveler" in each case an American- or a group of young Americans, as the theme required. The vocabulary in each case has been changed to meet the familiar scope of the young American reader, to sharpen his interst, hold his attention.
Which, of course, makes me want to read some of the non-American Editions! What vocabulary did they take out? Why wouldn't the original hold my attention?  Oh, well.  The American Editions will not disappoint, anyway. The titles listed in the cover of my book are:
  • The Young Traveler in England and Wales
  • The Young Traveler in France
  • The Young Traveler in  Holland
  • The Young Traveler in Sweden
  • The Young Traveler in Ireland
  • The Young Traveler in Switzerland
  • The Young Traveler in Scotland
  • The Young Traveler in New Zealand
  • The Young Traveler in Australia
  • The Young Traveler in Germany
  • The Young Traveler in Italy
  • The Young Traveler in South Africa
  • The Young Traveler in the U.S.A.
  • The Young Traveler in India and Pakistan
  • The Young Traveler in China
  • The Young Traveler in the South Seas
  • The Young Traveler in Canada 
  • The Young Traveler in Czechoslovakia
  • The Young Traveler in Mexico and Central America
These books would pair well with carefully planned map work and would make the study of any country come alive for your student - and for you!

Teaching from Peace,


Lesson Notes: Ekphrastic Poetry

The Veteran in a New Field by Ted Kooser
A lone man scything wheat

His back is turned to us, his white shirt
the brightest thing in the painting.
Old trousers, leather army suspenders.
Before him the red wheat bends,
the sky is cloudless, smokeless, and blue.
Where he has passed, the hot stalks spread
in streaks, like a shell exploding, but that is
behind him.  With stiff, bony shoulders
he mows his way into the colors of summer.

-from Delights & Shadows copyright 2004 by Copper Canyon Press
In our TBG Teens Community (The Hive), we have been reading the poetry of Nebraskan Ted Kooser. An unassuming, elderly gentleman and ex-insurance salesman, Mr. Kooser served as the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2004-2006.  His poetry is a clear, simple delight to read.  (Last semester was Milton - quite the contrast!)

After a few weeks of reading and enjoying his poems, we tried something different. Mr. Kooser wrote a series of poems based on 4 paintings by Winslow Homer. In class, we did a picture study on The Bright Side by Homer and then read Kooser's poem about it.  Then at home, we did a picture study on The Veteran in a New Field. We did NOT read his poem. The students were encouraged to write a poem "in the style of Ted Kooser" based on the picture.  Here is what they came up with:

The Veteran in a New Field

The young veteran cut down more and more of the growing gold
Until a pile, one or two feet high, had gathered behind him.
Satisfied with his work, he sat down with a worn leather-bound canteen
Half full of warm water.
The breeze taking away the hot sun now and then
Ran through the remaining mile or so of wheat,
Creating a soft rustle
That he would have loved to hear a few years ago.

The Veteran in a New Field

The sky seems to sit heavily like thick, blue frosting
Smeared on top of a cake of golden stalks.
A man cleanly slices the rich harvest and it falls
In pools through which he wades, knee deep.
He seems steady and his strong hands grip the tool firmly
As beads of sweat form on his neck.
The sun bakes his white back and dark suspenders
And only a small rustle of wind stirs the wheat,
Barely enough to tip a feather off a table.
- (15)

The Veteran in a New Field
Waves of gold roll along
The valley as the seasoned warrior
 Sweats under a burning eye
 From the heavens which gives
 life to all around him.

After they took a few days to craft their poems, I read Mr. Kooser's. I think the students did a great job! Ekphrastic poetry (poetry written in response to another piece of art) is really interesting and rich, allowing you to hear the poet's "narration" and inner imaginings of a painting. And no, we did not use the word "ekphrastic" in class.  I just was looking into it and found that this sort of poetry had a name. I will share that with the students.

Teaching from Peace,

P.S. - If you haven't heard about the MET's new, free resource of 400,000 images, click here!

P.P.S. - Sign up now for my immersion on March 18th! Charlotte Mason Experience in MN

The Veteran in a New Field by Winslow Homer

Commonplace Entries: Wendell, Dietrich, and Charlotte on the Sacred/Secular Split

coaster - woodburning on cedar for a sweet handcraft (note where the heart is!)
Have you added to your commonplace book lately? Here are 3 of my commonplace entries that deal with the dualism that often besets our lives. This has been a hot topic around here lately.

From Wendell Berry:

I see also that my language has changed. In the earlier poems, I used the words "spirit" and "wild" conventionally and complacently. Later I became unhappy with both. I resolved, first, to avoid "spirit." This was not because I think the word itself is without meaning, but because I could no longer tolerate the dualism, often constructed in sermons and such as a contest, of spirit and matter. I saw that once this division was made, spirit invariably triumphed to the detriment, to the actual and often irreparable damage, of matter and the material world. Dispensing with the word "spirit" clears the way to imagine a live continuity, in fact and value, between what we call "spiritual" and what we call "material." - This Day: Collected and New Sabbath Poems, Introduction p. xxv

From Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

"There are not two realities, but only one reality, and that is the reality of God, which has become manifest in Christ in the reality of the world." -Ethics p. 195

From Charlotte Mason:

"We allow no separation to grow up between the intellectual and 'spiritual' life of children, but teach them that the Divine Spirit has constant access to their spirits, and is their Continual Helper in all the interests, duties and joys of life." - principle #20, Vol. 6 p. xxxi

Teaching from Peace,