Author Archives: Marla

Dorothy Sayers: Lost Tools of Learning

The Lost Tools of Learning
Dorothy Sayers
That I, whose experience of teaching is extremely limited, should presume to discuss education is a matter, surely, that calls for no apology. It is a kind of behavior to which the present climate of opinion is wholly favorable. Bishops air their opinions about economics; biologists, about metaphysics; inorganic chemists, about theology; the most irrelevant people are appointed to highly technical ministries; and plain, blunt men write to the papers to say that Epstein and Picasso do not know how to draw. Up to a certain point, and provided the the criticisms are made with a reasonable modesty, these activities are commendable. Too much specialization is not a good thing. There is also one excellent reason why the veriest amateur may feel entitled to have an opinion about education. For if we are not all professional teachers, we have all, at some time or another, been taught. Even if we learnt nothing–perhaps in particular if we learnt nothing–our contribution to the discussion may have a potential value.

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CC Terms


Read this, or browse below:-)
CYCLE– The material taught in Foundations.  There are 3 consecutive Cycles and each one is 24 weeks long.
TRIVIUM-Latin for “three roads”. Grammar, Dialectic and Rhetoric are the three verbal arts that often correspond to stages of learning  (as articulated by Dorothy Sayers in The Lost Tools of Learning) in the classical model.  Read about  them below. Learning is fullest when all three roads are interesting and utilized.
GRAMMAR– The first stage in acquiring knowledge, and one of the “three roads” in the Trivium. It is the accumulation of knowledge through memorizing the basic facts of any subject area.  [Our Littlest Learners are like“sponges”- they can soak up reams of information! They typically love repetition, memorization and parroting back what they know. Sound familiar?]
DIALECTIC-The second stage in acquiring knowledge, a in which the student “connects the dots” and organizes and compares thoughts ideas, and the facts memorized in the Grammar stage. Logic. One of the “three roads” in the Trivium. [Children in the ages of 11-14 or so may seem to like arguing- so they learn logic and how to debate with respect and clarity.]
RHETORIC– The third stage in acquiring knowledge, and another of the “three roads” in the Trivium, in which students write and speak persuasively about anything they have studied, can think critically about that material, and communicate and teach it effectively. [This is often the time when “Self expression” appears to be of high importance!]
FOUNDATIONS: The morning program for children aged 4 – 12 years.  24 weeks of memory work for each of the 3 cycles, weekly presentations, fine arts, and science experiments and projects.
ESSENTIALS: The afternoon program for students in 4th-6th grade, in which an intensive and fun English grammar program is followed, along with the magical IEW writing program, and half an hour of fun math games and competition you can’t usually get at home with younger or older siblings.
EEL Guide: Essentials of the English Language Guide, written by Leigh Bortins for English Grammar mastery
IEW: Institute for Excellence in Writing-the writing program used in Essentials
TWSS: Teaching Writing:Style and Structure, used in Essentials.
CHALLENGE A & B: Full-day program for 7-9thth grade students, respectively.  Covers 6 skill areas: Grammar, Exposition & Composition, Debate, Research, Rhetoric and Logic.
LTW: The Lost Tools of Writing- Writing program used in CHALLENGE
CHALLENGE I, II, III & IV: Full-day program for students in 9th-12th grade, respectively.
FAMILY PRESENTATION: a 7 minute presentation given in the Morning Gathering featuring all members of the family! We love to meet our friends’ dads and siblings.  Families will present on Family Traditions/Activities.  Children will participate but all family members are included.  You may use songs, visuals, poems, demonstrations, etc.  They can be educational, inspiring and/or entertaining.
*Please arrive a bit early if you have props or any set-up.:-)
MEMORY MASTER: A Memory Master is either a student, parent or even tutor who has successfully memorized all content of the year (CYCLE).  Students will have their knowledge of all topics tested in entirety by both parents, and then by their tutor.  Should they accomplish this with great ease, they will go before their Director and be quizzed on select items from the year in each subject area.
7 MEMORY WORK SUBJECTS: Timeline, Science, Math History, English Grammar, Latin & Geography
TUTOR: Trained Parent who will equip and encourage you as they model the introduction of memory work, facilitate presentations, and direct the class through fine arts and science experiments.
Foundations/ Essentials DIRECTOR: the person who wrangles stuff for the tutors and endeavors to encourage and equip you and your children in Classical Home Education.
Challenge DIRECTOR: The person who facilitates a 6 hour discussion with your Jr High through High school age students across 6 disciplines, and encourages parents as they continue their role as Lead Learner and Teacher of their student.
SR: Support Representative- helps Directors do their job, connects CC communities in our area to one another, plans Parent Practicums and other events.
AR: Area Representative- supports and connects SM’s:-)
RM: Regional Manager- Supports AR’s and relays information from CC through the lines of communication, and more!




3 Weeks (or so) to Morning Time Magic…

3 Weeks (or so) to Morning Time Magic

I really like baby steps.Not because I want to take baby steps- If I had my way, I’d go “whole hog” on everything all the time and plow through till I achieved perfection.[Most who know me would find that shocking, but its true.]

However…when raising and educating young people, its tough impossible to find the time and undivided attention needed to do all that plowing through and perfection attaining!

Morning Time {which I happily found because a dear friend, Annie, invited me to read Sarah Mackenzie’s Teaching From Rest with some of my Tribe members} has transformed our days…and I’m only months in (with a long summer of car travel in between)

I am desperate to share the joy of it with all the people I can.

First, I’d like to direct you to the ladies I’ve begun to glean the most from in this realm:Sarah Mackenzie, Pam Barnhill and Cindy Rollins, I’m pretty sure they have all the answers, and in a lovelier and more easily read way.

…But in case you don’t feel inspired to click on those priceless links,  I want to help you start your Morning Time Magic one week at a time 🙂I think the hardest batch of folks to jump in with would be those with nursing babies and tiny toddlers -especially those of the twin and triplet variety 🙂Next might come those with the big kids.In any case- I think these easy 5 steps will make it do-able!

Morning time, as mentioned earlier can be your opportunity to embrace:

& Reading

Ritual- Something some of us live by and others run from! But in the end, our children WANT something predictable and regular. It’s comforting and assuring. Poet Miller Williams said: Ritual is important to us as human beings. It ties us to our traditions and our histories.

Recitation- Something modern education has shunned at times. But in the end, it is what fills heads with things to consider. It paints pictures. It creates a library in our minds for reference over any variety of subjects! 

” before the 1950’s, students were tested on their core knowledge through recitations. They might recite a long poem like Longfellow’s Hiawatha…”–Leigh Bortins, The Core, p.24
I think we’ve lost that a little- but it’s easy to bring back.

Reading- Something we ALL know is beneficial and really necessary I recently read of the difference between ILLITERACY and ALITERACY. The illiterate are unable to read.; the aliterate are unwilling to read. We need to protect our children’s ability to get lost in a great story, and to daydream about its characters until they get back to the story again.  Reading stories together ties us together, and cultivates a desire to read. It helps form our thoughts about how the world should be and how it really is. It causes us to ask questions, and grapple with an imperfect world.


Scholé : What is it, anyway?

What is Scholé?
You may have heard, or will hear this word a lot in coming months and years, I imagine.
It may seem strange or confusing when you hear it in different contexts, so let’s look at it:
Scholé = really cool Greek word.
Currently, you’ll hear it often in the realm of Classical education and Classical Home Education. Its very popular these days! 🙂


1.  freedom from labor, leisure.
2. according to later Greek usage, a place where there is leisure for anything, a school
Dr.Christopher Perrin, who has, together with Sarah Mackenzie, really welcomed classical home educators into this realm of thought, says it like this:
‘The word scholé (pronounced skoh-LAY) comes from a Greek word that means “restful learning,” with the connotation of “contemplation,” “conversation,” and “reflection.” Ironically, it is also the basis for our English word school, which no longer holds for us these restful connotations. “
This concept was perhaps originally intended as a way of communicating that learning and  thinking [contemplation, conversation, reflection] (which cannot really be done apart from one another) were things that took time, and needed to be done slowly, persistently and at a leisurely [not lazy] pace. 
When I think of LEISURE, I think of resting and restoration; something that offers me some peace but kind of gets me ready to ramp up for the hard stuff. 
The richness of teaching and learning from a place of restfulness is being [re]discovered by many homeschooling parents, especially Classical home educators. 
Doesn’t it sound equal parts impossible and absolutely lovely?!? 🙂
This past year, our SCV Classical Conversations (CC) Families have been invited to meet in the evening each month to discuss, contemplate and practice ways to engage in a more RESTFUL approach to teaching and learning…not a LAZY approach, but a more peace-filled one. 
We ripped off a title from some really cool groups of moms all over the country who have been meeting to grow themselves and to contemplate discuss and reflect on things that interest them, to build themselves into ‘more fully human’ humans 🙂 They call is Scholé Sisters- so we did, too…
but we saw that we are all just newly embarking on this Classical Education adventure (that Pioneers in its revival like Leigh Bortins, Andrew Kern, Martin Cothran, Christopher Perrin and others made possible for us) and that we really needed to dive in and understand HOW to learn this way. 
We asked a lot of questions, and they keep coming!
Here are a few that we looked at:
What methods or “pedagogies” would we implement to cultivate a love of learning and a deep wonder and curiosity in our children? 
How would we do it without buying yet another curriculum, or packing our days with lots of worksheets, frustration and no. fun. at. all? 
How would we model a love for learning as “lead learners”?
What exactly would that look like in our individual homes?
How does this repetition and memorization train our brain to retain?
How do we shift gears to do MUCH of a few things and not a little of MANY things?
How can I embrace a “less is more” mentality in life and learning?
What liturgies or rituals could we practice in our home that would cultivate virtues in our family?
SO, our CC Scholé Sisters became a place where we could discuss an approach, apply it, and check back in with one another. 
It has been pretty beautiful. 
Since we have already enjoyed the richness of COMMUNITY with one another through CC(even amongst different CC communities, the threads woven between us were already there)we had a connection and there was a vulnerability and  willingness to openly share our defeats as readily as we shared the shining moments.
We endeavored to discover how to relish the beauty, truth and goodness we found in what Classical Conversations has laid out before us, learn from those who have gone before us, and to dig deeply and linger in a way that could help order our affections in the culture of our home through learning in life together this way.
Looking at teaching from a place of rest, or scholé, I start to see with fresh eyes what Leigh Bortins has been telling me all along in each of her trilogy of books, The Core, The Question, and The Conversation. 
We are so excited as the current school year slows and we ready ourselves for a new one over the summer though prayer, reading, CC’s free parent Practicums, Homeschool Conventions like CHEA and GHC, and I’m sure numerous other ways,  to continue to equip each one of you in your Classical education journey with CC [or any way], and invite you to JOIN the conversation and find ways to walk it out with others in your community!
It’s always more fun to walk through life together, trying things out with companions, and learning from one another. 
And that’s exactly what we are on track to continue doing (!), while we enjoy all the benefits of Classical Conversations nearly 20 years of experience, knowledge and leadership in developing an outstanding CORE program for our kids and us, and a well laid- out plan that we don’t have to create! [I love that!]
As we aim to embrace a more restful, steady, deep-digging, “marinade in the facts and ideas” kind of learning, let’s do it together.
It would be wonderful to have you here- because even if you don’t believe it- we need you! You have valuable insights that others need- because you are the only ‘you’! – and that means you have a unique and valuable perspective to offer.
Let’s have a little scholé in our “school” days! 
…and tell us all about it!



Morning Time Magic WEEK 3- RECITATION

Yay! Week 3!!


Hopefully you have begun with Week 1 Ritual,  Week 2 Reading, and checked out Worship. If not- pop over- because they are nice places to start!

As mentioned before, Sarah Mackenzie who learned from Cindy Rollins, the Morning Time expert, have really written on this best.

But as great a joy as it has been to our family- I cannot help but share it, at least in brief.


Does that word make you want to cower in a closet or hide under the covers of your bed, or make your throat dry?

Somehow, it doesn’t conjure up gorgeous memories or feelings for me, either.

I find that knowing what a word is all about can take the scariness of it away …

It’s a Latin root, 
we all know that re means again, or again and again 
citāre to summon..
so we are summoning again some thing we have inside us.

That sounds better, doesn’t it?

It reminds me of how commonplace books were once called “Flora Legium”.  Books of Flowers. 
Someone, probably Dr. Perrin, shared this and the idea that the real ‘commonplace’ that information would settle in would be
                         THE HEART.
[Because we would study our “books of flowers”, our collection of precious and beautiful thoughts ideas, words, and know them by “heart”.]

Just pause with that for a minute or two.

Being able to summon God’s word kept Bess Ten Boom going with gentle strength and joy in a Nazi prison camp.

Tucking His word down in our hearts, keeps us from sinning and shows us where to go.

Reciting His words means we have a LIVING truth dwelling down deep, rooting us and bubbling out [being summoned again and again] even when the surface is a tempestuous sea or a lonely valley of death.

Knowing something well enough to recite it means we have a library of goodies to dig into at any moment needed.

SO- what do we want to recite?!

1. Scripture
2. Poetry
3. Literature
4. Chants and songs that help us remember helpful facts
5. you name it…

This is what we are trying to do:

 I have these old “Hooked on the Bible” Scripture cards. We pick one and memorize it. We repeat it and maybe put it to a tune…
I have a little devotion book with a scripture- we may memorize that.
We will review it each day of the week in Morning time, and then here and there later on- so our brain remembers that we want to keep it 🙂

OR we memorize Shakespearean passages.

Ken Ludwig has even made printable for you. There’s a link in his book, an you can copy out the passages.  We have learned and reviewed and now are beginning to actually recite dramatically! Oh boy!

OR Poetry

Andrew Pudewa selected a collection of great poems of great variety, and has presented a very easy, methodical way to memorize, review and tuck them down in your heart for a “summoning”- again and again.

“We should hunt out the helpful pieces of teaching and the spirited and noble-minded sayings which are capable of immediate practical application–not far far-fetched or archaic expressions or extravagant metaphors and figures of speech–and learn them so well that words become works.”- Seneca

What are you reciting this year? what would you like to recite?

Share, friends!

We’ll Never Cover It All, and I Will Lose My Mind Trying

Are you like me?
Do you fear that you won’t cover all you need to?
Are you concerned you’ll leave out some major field of study and your children will be academically crippled by it?
Do you find that when behaviors, or concerns or fears or sickness or visiting relatives or friends that just gave birth and need a meal, or a toddler that is is clingy,

cause you to lose your marbles?

Is a disruption in the schedule or plan the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back- and that camel is YOU?

I feel you.
I do.

 When I first taught in a beautiful little private school in San Bernardino, CA, my boss and mentor was a wise woman and very adept in teaching teachers.

There are countless bits of advice that I, a young woman with no children of my own and little life experience, treasured.

One of those, that I continually remind myself of and share as often as I can, went something like this:

“If all of September and even much of October is spent training your students to listen carefully and obey quickly and fully, I am confident that the remaining months will be more productive with that training than they would be if you solely concern yourself with plowing through academic content.”

She suggested I teach the students to walk in a set traffic pattern though the room, train them when and how to sharpen pencils, throw away garbage, get in line quickly and in an orderly fashion, turn in papers in the same way each session and day, how to respond if I said “attention class!” or “please stand!” or “earthquake!” or how to be courteous, greet visitors, be helpful and do the weekly duties efficiently and well.

So I did.

And it did take a lot of my focus for the first month and a half.  When we got out of practice, we had “boot camp” again.

And in all the in-between times- we had order[mostly]. We knew what to expect, [mostly]. We had effective steady teaching and learning periods without distraction or interruption. We used nice manners and got along pretty well.  And we learned a LOT. We covered a LOT of academic ground.  They all did spectacularly on their testing! They all learned to read and add and subtract and tell time! They even started tying shoes and blowing noses and using sign language! It all fell into place. It all got covered, and I didn’t lose my mind trying. [I did get grey hairs that first year, but…that’s another story]

Virtues, habits, and rhythms paved a way for MORE. BETTER. DEEPER. SIMPLER. RICHER.

Home education is very different.
I wouldn’t recommend trainmen your children to walk in a traffic pattern through the house, or jump when you say “please stand”. [although that almost sounds heavenly, in a way ;-)]

and, as far as classically educating my children at home goes,

I am no pro.

I am still having light bulb moments and eye-opening scenarios, reading sessions on home education and classical methods [pedagogies] that resonate and inspire like brand new information.

But I do know that what she said applies to us at home, as well, and I long to appeal to all that are:
fearful …
placing character training, or snuggles [on just the right days] or other people in need ahead of the schedule, curriculum plan, whatever it may be called…

We get till about 12 years old to train in honoring God, respecting parents and elders.

We get till about then to light a fire in their hearts,
 marvel in wonder at inch worms, 
find the fibonacci sequence in pine cones and flowers, then decorate the spirals with glitter glue
We get till about then to snuggle in bed for an hour reading a great story of brave adventuring rabbits that fight bravely and hold to a noble cause. 
We get until then to drop everything to hula hoop 
and climb trees 
and build lean-tos in the woods,
try making something “artistic”-even when we think we stink-

and dissect snakes, 
and bake muffins for the homeless shelter,
 and calculate how many gallons of rain water the roof produces in a good storm, 
or find eggs on the underbelly of a sand crab, 
and marvel at seed pods,
or learn embroidery, 
memorize oodles of poems because we can and its actually fun, 
write a play and build the set our of cardboard boxes and design the costumes from handed down goods, 
grow a 3′ square garden and tend it through harvest while using your worm farm composter under the sink, 
or sew stuffed animals for gifts, 
or hike at the nature center with a pack of friends and find all the scrub jays,

 acorn woodpeckers and coyote scat you can,
Brave the library,

or blast the music and dance like Baryshnikov 
or the Groovaloos, 
or sing like Pavarotti 
or Pharrell…

We just have so long…before bigger demands pull at that wonder, and that character, and that innocence, and affection. 

So what is we fill them up with it now- focus on it now- enjoy it all now- so it sticks and stays, so much is accomplished, so that rigor is welcomed, so that virtues are strong, so that a rhythm of grace and steadiness, and a leisurely enjoyment of the richness of all that God has is a treasure?

I am pretty certain you’ll find that:
in all the in-between times- there is some order.[mostly] You’ll know what to expect, [mostly]. You’ll have effective steady teaching and learning periods without huge distractions or interruptions, and if there are, you’ll keep your sanity and peace in it,  you may use nice manners and got along pretty well.  And learn a LOT. You’ll cover a LOT of academic ground. You’ll see them do spectacularly on their testing[if that’s your goal] They’ll all learn to read and add and subtract and tell time! They’ll even start tying shoes and blowing noses and maybe speak a new language! It’ll all fall into place.

It’ll get covered. and you won’t lose your mind trying.

Virtues, habits, and rhythms pave a way for MORE. BETTER. DEEPER. SIMPLER. RICHER.

Morning Time Magic WEEK 2- READING

Last week we began the Ritual of coming together for prayer.
I’ve heard the good advice to have a few components to prayer time:
1. Confession
2. Thanks
3. Prayer for the salvation of the lost
4. Prayer for missionaries and pastors and the persecuted.
5. Prayer for our own needs

Not rocket science and not original- I know 🙂 we sure don’t hit each area each time, but I try to be mindful, so that my children can form that habit that I never really did. 

There was a Bonus challenge of adding a little reading.

This week that is the REAL FOCUS.

We are going to simply add Reading.



My kids like to write out the scripture we read, or just draw while I read to them… so I copied a friend of mine, and in my Morning Bin, I have drawing pads and utensils, silly putty, or something to fiddle with. It actually helps KEEP their attention sometimes. If it doesn’t- its out.
Here is a collection of the suggested readings from families with young and old (er)… but mostly 12 and under.

The mamas that are reading these are finding that for their very little ones, the Jesus Storybook Bible is GREAT, and some of the old devotion books are just the right length and variety to work for busy little bodies, roaming minds and shorter attention spans…but those are building, as the ritual continues.

These readings are aimed toward Loving what is Lovely and what is True. God is Love and He is Truth… and His Word-Life.

Stephanie, mother of 4, ages 10 months-7yrs

Jami, Mother of 4, ages 5-12 

 Sara Jane, Mother of 4, ages 1-9


Kristen, Mother of 4, ages 2-7

Alexia, Mother of 4, ages infant- 7

Jenny, mother of 5, ages infant- 10 (with twin 2-year olds)
They also read the Jesus Storybook Bible so the little twins can be involved.  That book’s great for age 2-102! We love. love. love it.

Kristin, mother of 4, ages 4-9 (with twin 9 year olds)
How many had this read to them as kids?! 🙂

Here’s the List so far:
So your morning looks like this maybe:
Cuddle on the couch with some fruit or muffins. [yay!]
Pray together. 
Pass out journals or notepads and colored pencils or something.
Read Scripture/ Devotional together. [older children may want to take this on]
Maybe read from one of the BONUS books from week 1 – Book of Virtues or Aesops- something easy. Something lovely.
Next week- we’ll plant another seed in our Morning Time Garden! BOOM. Easy again! [almost like magic]

Morning Time Magic WEEK 1- RITUAL

Well here we are!
First step to Morning time is HAVING IT!
But just a re-visit to the question of “why?”

The way I see it, a “coming together” first thing helps make the First and Best Things the First things in our hearts.

This is where we begin the Ritual aspect of Morning Time.
We do it each day.
It is a liturgy.
A virtue-building training.

My guess is that our desire is to feed our children a diet of virtue-building meals.

So, for us, the First thing is Jesus. It is only through Him we will develop this virtue.  It is His grace and that grace alone that changes us, but we can posture ourselves to be fertile ground for what He is planting into us.

I wish I were to recognize more regularly, that desperate need for communion with my Maker like Luther did.

There is no greater momentum-builder for mania than feeling the press to “get into the day” and check off the lists. I think we all know how those urges can steamroll us right into drudgery, impatience and general crabbiness, so for me, placing this time first, slows me down internally and physically.  It gets mama on the right track when I am so prone to running down the wrong one, full-speed ahead.

And I’ll tell ya- the days we miss this time we FEEL it. (even though its a relatively new practice in our lives- thank you Sara Mackenzie) 

Week One’s assignment is to come together for prayer.

Soren Kierkegaard said: the function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.

Last week, I showed my daughters the Samaritan’s Purse video of Middle Eastern refugees being received on a Greek island shore. It is heartbreaking. and inspiring. Babies in life jackets, shivering after what we mapped out to be potentially 300 miles’ journey on the Mediterranean ( at least by our maps’ scale ) with no certainty of landing anywhere. Overstuffed rafts with only a couple oars. Mothers and grandmothers. No obvious belongings.

It moved us to PRAY. and pray, we did.

This was one of those “serendipitous” (I call that Holy-Spirit led) moments where the “magic” happened.  It was that lucky organic moment that you know Jesus led you toward. I couldn’t have planned it. I’m not that good. But it did show me how easy it will be to open little eyes [and big old ones] to the plight of others on a regular basis.

Everywhere around us are people to pray for. We have much to confess, much to be thankful for, many burdens to share with a lost, hurt, dying world. This won’t be hard.

One area of virtue I think we all agree on is that we want to raise humans who care for others, defend the helpless and SEE those around them as precious. Prayer is a great catalyst for pretty much EVERY good thing.

Oswald Chambers noted:

We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.

Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don’t want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because His idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours. 

The bonus assignment is:

Read something.

Let’s go with a quick story from William Bennett’s Children’s Book of Virtues

or The Book of Virtues.

Typically they are short, they address character and are beautifully written.
Even Shorter- Aesop’s Fables.
Good lessons, bite sized dose, animal characters usually – so for little munchkins- it’ll hold their attention. This edition has rich language and weaves the tale beautifully without “updated” language that loses the punch.

So… are you ready to give it a try?

Next week- we’ll plant another seed. BOOM. easy.

Venture Into the Night

“If on a startlit night,
With the moon brilliantly shimmering,
 We stay inside and do not venture out,

The evening universe remains a part of life we shall not know…”*

My daughter wanted the tent in the yard for her birthday.
It became the fort-of-the-week.

I had just been exchanging “no-fun-mom” woes with a few friends, and decided I’d try to be “fun”.

It turned into a weekend-long star-gazing campout. With no rain in sight, the mesh top was the perfect observatory for sleeping bag dwellers.

It was pretty glorious.

The Evening Universe became just a little more familiar to us.

And I saw that when I show interest in something, it can be a little contagious [sometimes]. It made me think of the scholé, or leisurely learning I am reading of, and absorbing, and beginning to dive into.

Not a hurried, check-off-the-activity-or-paper learning, but a “love what is lovely” learning, a learning that pours into life- not just “school”.  A learning that isn’t lazy, but leisurely, in that, it takes TIME. Sweet time. Time looking at sky charts and trying to match it to the REAL sky, time looking at the daytime sky, time thinking and reading about how the sky is God’s great big clock and calendar for us.

Gen. 1:14: And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years…

What?! So cool.

So, we aren’t very good at finding many constellations [yet], but were inspired by Fred of Life of Fred fame, to find collinear stars, and triangles and such…

And we have been, little by little, watching the moon’s cycles, following the big dipper’s trail around the moon through the night, finding Cassiopeia and her “W”, and we’re pretty good at locating Venus and Jupiter.

 I try using the recently discovered [by me] 5 Common Topics of Invention [here’s a cute bookmark with them on it] and the Topic Wheel to lead us through all the Goodness we can in our star-gazing ventures…

My girls are 10, 8 and 6, so I don’t expect to get too far in either- but its a start- and helps us form connections to all of God’s World, and see how it’s all intertwined.

Imperfectly and feebly, I went- but we ventured out anyway. You can too!

“How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Here will we sit and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears: soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.   

– William Shakespeare ( Merchant of Venice)

* poem excerpt by Marni P. Harmony

Morning Time: Flooding Affections with Beauty

Flooding affections with beautysounds dreamy, huh!

I stole  borrowed it from Pam Barnhill.  
[She has a great blog and beautiful offerings on the whole concept of morning time. She and Sarah Mackenzie and all the Schole Sisters, have rocked my newbie-classical world- but that’s a whole different story]

Morning Time has been this non- routiney mama’s way to execute that lovely ideal with some plan and structure, and still a whole lot of flexibility.Remember how we are here because we want to find all the early simple ways we can bring our children to encounters with Truth, Goodness and Beauty?CUE: MORNING TIME.

We started it in my home last spring after reading Sarah’s book, Teaching From Rest. Brilliant.

…and PS: I have 3 daughters, aged, 10, 8 & 6. So keep that in mind- 
I don’t have a nursing infant, or twins, or toddlers 🙂 so think of how you would make this time YOURS-ALL-YOURS.

We just eased in with a few hymns and contemporary songs to or about Jesus, Prayer, and scripture, followed by reading Number The Stars.

The hymnal was new to the girls, and a gift from my grandmother, so they were very enamored and wanted to sing for a loooong time.

We read a scripture passage in Proverbs and Psalms, then talked about what that would look like if we lived it.

We prayed for the person to our right.

And as I read, they were free to draw. They chose to make the scripture we read a pretty entry in their journals.

Now. To make sure I’m telling it right, I have a few things to point  out. There was squabbling amongst the children during scripture reading and the mother was disturbed highly and pointed out how rude they were. It was lovely. They were all so happy. Then there was some arguing over the markers because 142 markers isn’t quite enough to share 3 ways. and the then 5-year old had a question to ask for nearly every line of the first chapter of the book. What kind of name is Lise, she wants to know…

But, at the end – said squabbling children said “that was nice”, and said grouchy mother thought so too.

FAST FORWARD TO the “New School Year”:

I’m just going to say it: I’m probably pretty lazy.
We found a sweet groove in our morning time, and I thought I’d add more stuff to it. Kill more proverbial birds with the same stone…

So- now we added our Classical Conversations Memory work, a poem to memorize (alternating monthly with a passage of Shakespeare), We read from The Book of Virtues one or several entries, depending on length, will have some time for narration of those stories, and close in the Doxology.  After that, my oldest begins her work and I continue to read a chapter of Life of Fred with the younger two, practice skip counting forward and backwards, and phonics rules.

Now, all of this can take 1.5 – 2 hours. We eat breakfast during this time, there is movement with our Classical Conversations Memory Work, we sing, hear great stories, recite, etc. It’s not all sitting with hands folded at all.

It works for us, and some days it gets shortened because it isn’t working- but so far- it’s a nice flow. By the time we are done, we have accomplished a LOT!!!!


My favorite part of all is that we begin with the most important thing first- JESUS. 
You just CAN’T beat that. [and if I’m just going to continue to be embarrassingly honest, we haven’t been great at establishing a ritual of going to Him together- first, or even consistently. ugh. but hallelujah! now we do!]

Morning Time, according to Sarah Mackenzie, is based on 3 main things:

  1. Reading
  2. Recitation
  3. Ritual
These 3 things in particular, pull us together into unity, and we find ourselves engaged in a common endeavor. I love that. 

We add to that common ground with great stories and rich facts, ideas, and words to deposit in our minds all together. 

We get a little flooding of beauty that fills our affections.

We all like, maybe even love, the things we know.  

And while they say familiarity breeds contempt, in a learning mind it seems to be the contrary…familiarity forms connections. Connections grow enthusiasm, and enthusiasm grows a hunger for more things with which to become acquainted.


So- Morning Time has truly revolutionized our day. learning.  life.

…and I stole borrowed something else from another mom: we call our Morning Time  “Convocation” – Latin for ‘calling together’.
I love it.