This year, for the first time ever, I am following a set schedule for our history reading- using the engaging books and useful guidebook published by Beautiful Feet. You can read my intro post to this living books approach to history here. Now that we are finishing off our first term (6 weeks) I wanted to write an update on how it is working for us.
Term one led us through the lives of Leif Erikson and Christopher Columbus with the beautiful D’aulaire books and the thoughtful questions from the guidebook.
“There was once a boy who loved the salty sea. He would be a seaman when he grew up. He would not be a weaver like his father, who sat all day in a dark, little shop weaving yarn into cloth. A ship would be his shuttle, the waves his warp, the wide and bounding sea his loom.”
That is just a taste of the beautiful language these books contain that paint such vivid images for your mind and dance you through history with living books.
Here is where I must offer up my secret confession:
I was terrified about the pace.
I know many whom stretch these books into two years.
But can I be honest? The pace is much slower than what we normally do.
Two books (which was 18 lessons) over the course of 6 weeks seemed painfully slow.
I had previously read the boys Leif the Lucky as a bedtime story in one night and I wasn’t entirely certain what to think of this slower pace that the manual lays out.
I dutifully followed the reading plan laid out in the guide, and while narration and conversations have always been a part of our family culture, I have been pleased with this slowing down and marinating of the characters. We have labored, adventured, and talked over these men for 6 weeks. I feel as if we know them more intimately.
“Having found the book which has a message for us, let us not be guilty of the folly of saying we have read it. We might as well say we have breakfasted, as if breakfasting on one day should last us for every day! The book that helps us deserves many readings, for assimilation comes by slow degrees.” -Charlotte Mason
I had formatted, printed and bound all of the resources from BFB for the Early American History books and we have kept pace with working through them. My third grader is not overly enthusiastic about coloring in the pictures, but my second grader enjoys doing that as I read. I have really enjoyed the questions that the guide shares to stimulate conversations. A lot of them focus on the character of a person, and I am convinced that this is a powerful way for us to learn. In fact, it is point number 11 in our list of 13 ways to help protect our children from the addiction of pornography. Connect them to great men of the past – talk about the strengths and weakness. Cause and effect.
The Early American History guide book has done an excellent job at extracting deeper conversations with our sons about the character of Leif and Columbus and I am looking forward to us finishing off the life of Columbus (an oral presentation is required) and studying the life of Pocahontas, the details of Jamestown, and some of the pilgrim stories in term two.