Best of Homeschooling with the Trivium Newsletter Year 2005-Part 1

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The Story of Mr. Pippin by Johannah Bluedorn

The Story of Mr. Pippin is a heartwarming picturebook about the relationship between a young girl and Mr. Pippin, an orphan raccoon that she rescued. The foods he ate and the time he shared made for precious memories as he matured into an adult. Eventually Mr. Pippin felt the call of the wild and left his adoptive family to fend for himself – what new adventures could be in store for him? An especially delightful tale for any child who loves raccoons.
From: Mary Churchman
Re: Son’s Military Obsession

I, too, have struggled greatly with exactly the same issues. I grew up with a single sibling, a sister, and we lived pretty socially-sheltered lives. My father was a minister and English teacher who had no interest in anything military (although he did serve in WWII) or sports.Consequently these issues are completely foreign to me.Further, since I lost my husband when my son was 5, I have no direction or leadership from him.Yet further, my son has Asperger’s syndrome, on the autistic spectrum, a “feature” of which is obsessions, so my son’s interest in guns and knives goes way beyond that of “normal” boyhood interest.I finally found some resolution after reading Doug Wilson’s “Future Men” in which he says, (paraphrased, probably poorly) “Of course little boys should play with guns.Little boys grow up to be men who go to war, so by playing guns/army they are practicing to be men.”It made perfect sense to me.He also makes it clear that there is a place and time for it (the back yard), and that when the child points a gun at the lady from church he should be taken to the back room “and tried for war crimes.” (My favorite quote from the book!) So now I just work on training his heart in righteousness and putting it (the guns/knives/bows/army/FBI/police et al infinitum) into perspective for him . . . Who knows, he may be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff some day, and what finer person to fill that role than a righteous, godly man.

Mary Alice Churchman
From: MHarrin11
Date: Mon, 27 Dec 2004

Dear Harvey,

I am so glad you took the position about the military that you did. I don’t know you that well and was afraid you might take the pacifistic approach.

The Bible says: You have trained my fingers for war. We all dislike war, but if no one defends our country, then we are actually a party to the evil that others inflict on us.

Our (homeschooled) sons are serving now, and one is leaving in early January for over there.His twin brother just came back after his tour of duty as a Navy pilot over there.Two of our sons-in-law are either currently serving or have finished recently. Our daughter-in-law (not homeschooled obviously) is a JAG officer who just returned too.She now wants to begin her family and take a more traditional role in her family.We have so many serving and they are always defensive.

Working on a speech for the Christian schools now, about not overloading your teenager with busy work.Did you know they do that now a lot? They think it makes them have a superior school, and the students (I substitute teach) are exhausted, with no time to think, to do research projects, and to have family life.We are praying that we can bring the Trivium to more Christian schools in 2005.

Mary Harrington
From: Junekc135
Date: Mon, 27 Dec 2004

If you are going to use the Dive CD for Saxon Advanced Math, be sure to review lesson 45 on the CD before you buy a graphing calculator.We bought a more advanced calculator and even a college engineering student couldn’t help me make it do what I needed.Fortunately, I was able to exchange it (thank you Wal-mart) for the one they use in the CD.They tell you step-by-step exactly how to use it.

Date: Mon, 27 Dec 2004
From: DoloresBryan Lowe
Subject: Son’s Military Obsession

This is in response to B who was worried about her son’s military obsession. I have 3 boys ages 15, 13 and 5 they all have a military obsession. When we studied ancient history we used to get bogged down in every battle we encountered, we built our own trebuchet and catapult when we studied medieval siege weapons. It took us 2 years and several Civil War reenactments to get through the Civil War. Later when they got older we bought Backyard Ballistics and proceeded to build potato cannons (which turned out to be very successful). Today they hang out with a pretty good bunch of homeschooled Christian boys and they all go paint balling and shooting together. Yet these boys are the very model of civility in whatever situation they encounter. All this to say that boys will be boys. Our family believes that the Lord created Israel as a warrior nation. The Old Testament is a history of a warrior people who have had to battle against all odds to maintain their God given identity and to resist assimilation by the pagan nations around them. I would not rob my sons of that knowledge.

Hope this helps,
Dolores Lowe
From: Frank Rogers
Subject: Phonics reading vs. rapid reading
Date: Mon, 27 Dec 2004
Tacoma, WA

Hi Gregg,

Hopefully the following will answer your concerns.

If one were to accept the argument that your question implies, that one has to choose between phonics reading or rapid reading, it leaves you with another decision. If I want my beginning reader to be a rapid reader, how will I teach him word recognition?

The answer is that phonics reading and rapid reader are two different subjects. You’re trying to compare apples and oranges. It might be called a false dilemma. So I’ll talk about the two items separately.

There is, probably, no such thing as phonics reading. There is only phonics word recognition. Phonics is the association between letters and sound, for purposes of teaching beginning reading. As the averagestudent uses phonics to recognize a word perhaps 40 times the word becomes instantly known and phonics is no longer used. The research here is skimpy, but most teachers recognize the phenomenon.

As young readers develop their reading skills they will use less and less phonics as more words become instantly known. Good readers know almost all words instantly with rare need to use phonics.

Children learning whole word memorization sometimes show a little more speed than phonics taught students in reading words in the very first simple primers. But they are not being taught the two skills that will help them in the long term, the phonics facts and the phonics habit.This has haunted the American Education system for years. Why do boys taught whole word memorization suddenly develop reading disabilities in the third or fourth grades? It’s because they got to the end of their rope in recognizing words by whole word memorization, their books no longer provide picture cues and now all words are beginning to look the same to them. What is worse, these little guys (and their parents) have been told all this time that they are good readers. And so now they don’t want to go back and learn phonics!It affects girls too, but less frequently.

Rapid reading.Rapid reading is closely linked to comprehension. What good is rapid reading if you don’t understand what you are reading. Edward Fry a prominent reading researcher has said that to develop a child’s reading comprehension, start him reading and keep him reading.And that is the way you develop rapid readers, start them reading and keep them reading.

So what is the best way to start them reading? Teach students the phonics facts; the phonics habit; practice on the Most Often Occurring words in English; put interesting material in front of them and then make time for them to read by not having electronic entertainment in the home.

You mention the term, vocalizing. This is a term employed in almost every speed reading book or taped reading course that I have encountered. These same materials never, in my experience, mention word recognition or decoding ability. I think vocalizing is a strawman. I think very slow beginning or struggling readers do vocalize. But as their skills develop vocalizing falls by the way side. When you’re teaching a young, beginning reader it is a great experience to hear them vocalizing the various sounds required to get a word and then loudly saying the word. Teachers almost always regret it when, as the student progresses they begin racing through the text and stop their vocalizing.

I have encountered your original proposition Phonics vs. speed reading in college textbooks (Reading 101 etc.). And several mothers have asked me what to do when the classroomteacher complains their child is slowing down the class by sounding out words.

Gregg, email me back, if this doesn’t provide a satisfactory answer to your question.

R’spy, Frank Rogers, TATRAS
From: Frank Rogers
Subject: Teaching a Russian eight-year old
Date: Mon, 27 Dec 2004
Tacoma, WA

Hi, Joe and Darlene,

I have had great success in working with two different Russian (Moldavian) families and another mother in Florida is havinggreat success teaching a large number of severely handicapped Russian-speaking children from Cuba (??) to read using the TATRAS program.Despite expert medical assurances they would never be readers.

If you are interested, contact me.

Because he is already eight years old, you only need our manual. I can sell you that alone if you don’t have any younger children in the home and if you promise to call me on the phone for a quick-start briefing.

I can also provide you with some very simple materials that will allow you (no matter what your English grammar background might be) to help him with his initial English grammar. I used these material in Vietnam, Taiwan and here to work with foreign students (including members of the famous Siberian Seven family.).

R’spy, Frank Rogers, TATRAS
From: Replogle Family
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 2004

For Joe and Darlene:

Congratulations on your forthcoming adoption.We brought our eldest home from Russia when he was not quite 7 yo. You wrote: know he must learn English first, but how, besides us speaking to him. You hit the nail on the head: talk to him! The first few weeks I felt like a chauffer in my own car.Your voice may get tired, but keep talking. And then where do we go from there? Do I start him at a preschool level? Oy! Also, is there a curriculum.I know of no Russian-specific curriculum. I did talk with an ESL teacher. I told her what we were doing and she suggested we continue as we were. We used a lot of picture cards. Someone gave us a set with animal pictures, a big and little of each.Then we did phonics, phonics, phonics!In fact that was the ONLY formal curriculum I did.Within a year of learning phonics, and at less than a year speaking English, one son tested at the high school level for word attack skills.Now, some six years later, he reads EVERYTHING in the house.But then, even if phonics were not vital to good reading, as some suggest, I have found it great brain training for logical thinking. Well, this is getting a bit long.If you’d like to correspond more, I’d be glad to share with you what worked for us.Just email me individually.

Coram Deo,
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 2004

Excerpts from HOW TO RAISE GODLY CHILDREN by Dr. Roger Voegtlin, November 22, 1998

A hundred years ago there was one divorce in 36. As you know, there’s one divorce in every two today. A Harvard professor made a study of 1,005 families who had devotions. He followed them through the years and only one out of the 1,005 got a divorce. “The family that prays together stays together.”  Josephus, the unsaved Jewish historian, wrote that in his day at five years old they read the Bible, at ten they would study theological writings, and by 15 they had memorized Deuteronomy. Today, between the ages of 4 and 14 the average child has watched 20,000 hours of television. The average television is on 7 hours a day
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 2004
From: Matthew P Henry
Subject: Re: Son’s Military Obsession

Amen on Harvey’s comments and the Bible!

Several things we have done as a family. We never pretend anything that doesn’t glorify God or reflect His character. For example, we don’t pretend just killing people for killing’s sake. Our play must glorify God just like our real life does, and what a wonderful place to learn to glorify God in our pretending in preparation for our real life.   Would recommend listening to Little Bear Wheeler’s Why Johnny Can’t Play with Guns CD.  Would also recommend listening to Doug Phillip’s Rebuilding a Culture of  Virtuous Boyhood
From: Donna Vail
Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2004

We are starting to look for good books to read to our children and want to know how we can tell that a book is the Abridged or Unabridged version. Does it have to state Abridged in the title, for example? We have a copy of Treasure Island and cannot tell if it is the Abridged version or not.

[Donna Vail] Better late than never I felt inclined to answer to this message as I am always in search for the unabridged.Perhaps you could go to a site online that has the book (Gutenberg)and you could print the first page of chapter one to carry to the store with you and compare.We use Robinson curriculum for literature and I like to purchase books that are still in print or affordable rather than print them from the program.I have printed the first page to compare.A lot of the Barnes  Noblereprints are unabridged but you do have to check.Here is how the unabridged Treasure Island starts:

The Old Sea Dog at the “Admiral Benbow”  Squire Trelawney, Dr. Levesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17–, and go back to the time when my father kept the “Admiral Benbow” inn, and the brown old seaman, with the saber cut, first took up his lodging under our roof.

That is the first paragraph which usually is changed if it is abridged. I hope this helps.Happy hunting.

J Donna Vail, Garden Valley, Texas
From: James Bartlett
Subject: Christian Mathematics
Date: Mon, 3 Jan 2005

Hi Harvey and Laurie,

Perhaps the following would lead to some interesting discussion on the Trivium Loop?

Sincerely, Jim Bartlett
An Introduction to Christian Mathematics

Christian mathematics involves both the acknowledging of God in the little things and discerning of the cultural times. Our culture has been seriously secularized into thinking that subjects can exist apart from God.Therefore, when connecting faith and God’s creation to a subject, such as in Christian mathematics, many minds begin spinning.  How can mathematics possibly be Christian or unchristian, redeemed or unredeemed?This is a great place to start the discussion of Christian mathematics.In more formal terms, the question could be phrased, “Is mathematics neutral?”Most people have assumed mathematics is neutral for so long that the question is usually phrased as a wavering statement such as “Mathematics is neutral, right?”  Neutrality implies that the knowledge and structure of mathematics is not influenced by religious belief, or that it should not be.Another way to state neutrality is to say that mathematics would be the same whether God existed or not.The claim that mathematics would be the same with or without the existence of God is an antichristian statement, because the Scriptures declare that God created and holds all things, which includes mathematics, together.…God, who created all things by Jesus ChristEphesians 3:9And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. Colossians 1:17 Neutrality also denies that God can reveal truth about mathematics, where the Scriptures never represent the world as operating by laws independent of the Creator.Also, since there is one Creator, we look for and can expect to find unity and harmony between spiritual life, creation, history, philosophy, and mathematical knowledge.The Scriptures even inform us about what kind of mathematics is legitimate, the kind with the source of truth as revelation, verses any secularized version of revelation. Since mathematics in general and Christian mathematics in particular is still under development, it is important for Christians to include mathematics in their view of the Christian dominion mandate. Just as reading, writing, and arithmetic permeate and influence a person’s life and every field of endeavor, so the impact of distinctly Christian mathematical thought has the potential to transform the student into the image of Christ for a greater influence in the Christian family, church, and society.Since most Christians desire a Biblical worldview in every other area of life, why not include mathematics? A student fully trained in Christian mathematics has their inward thoughts and attitudes consistent with God’s Word.The student will boldly express his or her faith in their work, words, and writings; even the elusive areas where mathematics comes to bear, as in engineering and science.In other words, the student won’t be a secret believer when doing mathematics (Matthew 12:34b-37).Some say that the student who ignores God as he does mathematical tasks is not neutral, but even rebellious and ungrateful toward the Giver of all his knowledge (Proverbs 3:6;Hosea 4:6).It doesn’t take long in the Scriptures to see that God doesn’t promote neutrality in any subject (Revelations 3:15-16; Matthew 12:30; 1 Kings 18:21; Joshua 24:15).  The Christian math student is encouraged to discover and use God’s logic, attributes, power, nature, and glory (Romans 1:20; Psalm 111:10), while keeping logic and science subservient to revelation (Romans 5:18-19; Romans 7:17-21; Romans 8:20).Mathematics demonstrates the truth that every idea has an opposite (e.g., addition /subtraction, right/wrong) which has parallel ideas in theology (e.g., narrow way /broad way, righteousness /wickedness), which can declare the glory and attributes of God (Romans 1:20).Absolute truth and many other important philosophical concepts are further seen when one recognizes that mathematics reveals God’s nature through His creation. Disconnected secular math is often the cause for the dislike and even fear of math.  Christian mathematics seeks to keep mathematics connected to creation and daily reality while encouraging the student in their knowledge of God, experience in being led by His Spirit (Romans 8:14), and discerning the times through illustrations of philosophy and truth in mathematics.This also inspires the student and properly motivates mathematical study, improve diligence, and leads to the lifelong acknowledgement of God in the details.

By the deliberate omission of creation and philosophical contexts, most Christian mathematics teaching today denies the reality of the Creator God, where the wonder of creation and cultural implications reveal the fact that real life mathematics is not boring but exciting. Christian Mathematics at and  implements the Biblical view of mathematics through special readings, real-life projects, discussions, sharing of specific daily uses of mathematics, and helping students see the corresponding theological, personal, and cultural implications of Christian thinking.

The related items listed below are available at and

– A special report titled How did Jesus study algebra?
– A place to discuss Christian mathematics and post your daily algebra uses.
– A course on Christian mathematics.
– Algebra 1/2, 1, 2, and Advanced Mathematics with Christian math component
Contest Time!!!!
The 6th person to email me the answer to this riddle wins a copy of The Fallacy Detective:
My first is in BORDER and also in BED;
My second’s in ROLL but never in BREAD;
My third is in MILE but isn’t in METRE;
My fourth’s found in PINT but not found in LITRE;
My fifth’s not in PAIN but always in ACHE;
My sixth is in PIE but never in CAKE;
My seventh is found both in ANKLE and KNEE;
My whole is a creature that swims in the sea.
Date: Thu, 7 Dec 2000

Dear Laurie and Harvey,

Your website is going to be an answer to prayer for my eight year old, Zachary. He is the second of five children, soon to be six, and so tired of Saxon Math, and lots of other busy work and other sorts of torture his Mom, yours truly, has been putting him through the last couple of years. He believes that I don’t quite know how to teach him. He’s right!! He is a scientific kid, full of questions of which the latest was, does fire have weight? Then he follows up his own question usually like, It consumes oxygen, and oxygen has weight, so…… The next thing that happens as usual is that Mom or Dad never know these answers, but he goes on to do his own research, and then teaches us later!! Because of what I have perceived to be high aptitude, I have tried to force much ‘education’ on him, but it is so difficult for all involved. He can’t concentrate. This was a real enigma to me, because he can be so deep at times, but he can barely do 6 math problems in an hour! His mind is in so many other places. If I sit with him and talk him through each one, he’s right there. He skipped the concrete stage at ages 5 and 6, and was actually insulted when I made him use manipulatives like cuisenaire rods or MM’s or pretzels, etc. to see the math. He seems to have been abstract from birth. He saw it just fine without my help!! I see a reformation coming for all of the children actually, as there’s a six year old at the school table too! Noah is totally opposite Zach’s scientific approach to life and just wants to play football or climb up on the roof! I’m ashamed to admit that I have been carrying around a copy of Ten Things To Do Before Ten since it came out in Practical Homeschooling. It is dog-eared and has been read many, many times. Thank you for being there on the web, and having the entire article – 29 pages really excited me!! Too   bad I didn’t seek you out sooner, but Praise the Lord for your efforts. They are not in vain. I was also so glad to see your beautiful family portraits. It is very comforting to receive advice from those whose children are on the other side, as my oldest is eleven.

May the Lord bless you and keep you as you walk in His ways and honor His word.

Sincerely, Anna Fogg
BOOK REVIEW — Cassiodorus’s Institutions


Hello Friends,

We are very pleased to announce that the Classical Astronomy Store is now offering the new translation of that most seminal work of Christian Classical Education, Institutions of Divine and Secular Learning, by the 6th century Roman educator Cassiodorus Senator.  This classic work is notable for being the first Christian guidebook for the Seven Liberal Arts: The Trivium of Grammar, Dialectic and Rhetoric; and The Quadrivium of Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy and Music. Christian Classical Homeschooling (or CCH) has become very popular in recent years.Many homeschool families are now following the Trivium approach to education, as first explained by Dorothy Sayers in The Lost Tools of Learning. Cassiodorus’s Institutes would be a valuable source for Christian Classical Homeschool parents who wish to drink from the font of classical education, especially those wishing to obtain a well-educated mind.


Cassiodorus lived literally on the cusp between the Late Classical and Early Medieval periods.His lifetime coincided with The Fall of Rome and the establishment of the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy.Although he came from a distinguished Roman Senatorial family, Cassiodorus became a high-ranking official at the court of Theodoric, King of the Goths.

Cassiodorus was a contemporary and a friend of Boethius, The Last Roman, author of the famous Consolation of Philosophy. He was also a friend of Diogenes Exiguus, the Byzantine calendrist best known for introducing the Christian Era, the calendar method of reckoning the years according to A.D. — Anno Domini, or The Year of Our Lord.  The Institutions were written by Cassiodorus in his later years, after he retired to found a monastery, The Vivarium.Cassiodorus prepared this work to be useful to his community after his death.He understood that classical civilization was in a state of collapse, and that Western Europe was descending into a Dark Age.So he was determined to help strengthen the things that remained for the dark days ahead.In his Preface, Cassiodorus gives these reasons for writing the Institutions: I made efforts to collect money so that it should rather be the Christian schools in the city of Rome that could employ learned teachers… from whom the faithful might gain eternal salvation for their souls and the adornment of sober and pure eloquence for their speech….But since I could not accomplish this task because of raging wars and violent struggles in the Kingdom of Italy — for a peaceful endeavor has no place in a time of unrest — I was moved by divine love to devise for you, with God’s help, these introductory books to take the place of a teacher. Though he may not have appreciated it in his lifetime, Cassiodorus’s work was instrumental in preserving a remnant of classical learning into the Medieval period, not just for his small community, but across Western Europe.


As the title suggests, the Institutions are written in two books. As Cassiodorus writes:  Through them I believe that both the textual sequence of Holy Scripture and also a compact account of secular letters may, with God’s grace, be revealed.  In the first book, Cassiodorus provides brief recommendations of the best Bible commentaries available in this time.To the modern reader, this section could be a useful guide to the so-called church fathers — Bible commentators such as Augustine, Jerome and Chrysostem — whose brilliant expositions of the Scripture are still relevant today. In the second book, Cassiodorus outlines the seven headings of secular letters, later known as The Seven Liberal Arts.Though Cassiodorus does not use the terms Trivium and Quadrivium, summaries of the arts of Grammar, Rhetoric, Dialectic, Arithmetic, Music, Geometry and Astronomy are set forth for the first time in an explicitly Christian work. The summaries of Grammar, Rhetoric and Logic or Dialectic are quite sophisticated.It might require some effort to follow Cassiodorus’s formal examples, especially the logical syllogisms. But these summaries clearly demonstrate the intelligence of the Ancient and Medieval World, and the comparative deficiencies of a contemporary liberal arts education. Cassiodorus gives an excellent overview of the mathematical or theoretical disciplines of Arithmetic, Music, Geometry and Astronomy.Cassiodorus explains why people of faith should include these subjects in their education: Our holy Fathers properly persuaded men of a scholarly disposiion to read the sciences since they do much to turn our appetite from carnal things and make us desire what with the Lord’s aid we can see with the heart alone.  The Institutions is not a long work, and other material is included with this volume, including an essay by Cassiodorus entitled On the Soul.This very interesting Christian essay contemplates the nature and various qualities of the human soul.This edition also includes a long-winded scholarly introduction discussing the scholarship of Cassiodorus.This is probably way more information than the average reader would want!But it can be amusing to see how academics can study a great work of the Christian faith and still miss the point!The reader might wish to read the introduction after reading the actual writings of Cassiodorus.

Til next time, God bless and clear skies!
The Ryan Family
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Used with permission.

The Wonders of Classical Music
by Jude Wanniski

If you are thinking of Christmas gifts and are stumped with a person young or old, you might consider the gift of discovery — the discovery of classical music. When I was 13, I discovered classical music through an accidental Christmas gift. Here is how it works: The biggest reason people do not enjoy classical music is that they do not know how to get into it. They know there must be something to it, because high society people put on the ritz to go to concerts and operas. They may even think that the upper crust has a superior intelligence, which makes them appreciate things that ordinary folk could never enjoy. They eat caviar, for example, which tastes terrible when you first try it. They go to Shakespearean plays, and who understands that stuff? They speak French and Italian and who knows what else? Classical music is part of that mystery, I think.  Classical music is a bit different than Shakespeare and foreign languages and even caviar. I found that almost everyone can access classical music and learn to love it, to appreciate it, to make it a part of their lives and the lives of their families. They only need the key, the key that can unlock its mysteries and access its endless profound pleasures. The key is… repetition… repetition… repetition…. This is what a wise man taught me when I was 13 years old, when I asked him how come I didn’t like classical music, except I did like George Gershwin’s Concerto in F — which my father had given me as a Christmas present in 1949. I really didn’t like the music, but because it was the only recording I had, classical or popular, I wound up playing it over and over, and one day I had to play it twice, and the next day I had to run home from school to play it again and again. The longer I listened to it while I was doing my homework or reading comic books, the deeper it was digging its way into me. I began to realize the difference between popular and classical music was that you could listen to a popular song and the first time fall in love with it, but three weeks later never want to hear it again. With classical music, when you hear it the first time you never want to hear it again, but if by chance you hear the same piece for three weeks, you always want to hear it again, to the end of your life. The wise man was my Uncle Vince, my mother’s younger brother. He knew all kinds of things I didn’t understand. He took me to my first baseball game, Memorial Day 1946, a doubleheader at Ebbets Field between the Dodgers and the Boston Braves. He taught me how to play chess. He taught me about loyalty, and how you had to keep promises. He taught me how to always think about how the other fellow thought about things, to look at the other side of the coin, which was a favorite phrase of his. He was a devoted liberal and loved The New York Times, but still he singled out its columnist Tom Wicker for special attention, because he always looked at the other side of the coin. When it came to classical music, I knew Uncle Vince knew all about it. He was always listening to WQXR and had shelves piled with records, the old 78-speed discs. In fact, the three discs my Concerto in F by Gershwin came packaged in were 78s — six sides totaling 30 minutes! When I told him how much I loved it after listening to it a dozen times, he said I was ready to try something else, but that I should do the same thing and only listen to one piece until I understood it and enjoyed it. He gave me Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, The Pastorale, which was the music behind the mythology segment in Walt Disney’s Fantasia. This for a 13-year-old boy who spent most of his time following the Dodgers, Knicks and Rangers — when he was not playing stickball or punchball in the streets of Borough Park, Brooklyn. Sure enough, I did not like Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, but I now knew that I would have to listen to it a dozen times and I would!  Ah wonders! After the fourth or fifth playing the music became familiar, and by the tenth play, I could practically whistle my way through all four movements. What next? I called Uncle Vince and he told me that now that I had a start on Beethoven’s nine symphonies, I should try No.7, which I did with the same results. Should I go on to the others? No, he said I should now shift to Brahms, and instead of a symphony, I should learn his first piano concerto. These he supplied, with the 78-speed albums. A year later at Christmas I was now completely hooked. I answered an ad in The New York Times for a mail-order long-playing record changer, a VM model, as I recall. The man who answered said I could save the mail costs if I came by his loft in lower Manhattan, and when I did he offered me a job, three-hours a day after school and all day Saturday. He paid me $1 an hour, big money back then, as a subway ride still cost only a dime. With my first payday, I took the train up to Sam Goody’s at 49th Street off Broadway, and bought my first LP — Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto, with Artur Rubenstein at the keyboard, Sir Thomas Beecham with the baton. (I still have the record, although the Gershwin 78s were ditched long ago when they were scratched to pieces.) I now have more than 1600 LPs and several hundred CDs.  What happened? I’ve since made several important discoveries about how the human brain develops. It now is clear that I did have a predilection to classical music because of my father’s interest in grand opera — which I did not pick up until my 30s. What the Gershwin did was provide a bridge between popular music and classical, as the piano Concerto in F was one step further in complexity to Rhapsody in Blue, which must still be considered jazz, as opposed to classical. The synapses of my brain which had refused to accept my father’s opera or would have had great difficulty coping with Beethoven’s 9th, got some easier exercise in dealing with Gershwin and the Pastorale. By the time I was whistling through Brahms’ second piano concerto, my brain was conditioned when I hit it with yet another symphony or concerto. By the time I was 16, I was spending Sunday afternoons at any free concerts I could find listed in the Times at one of the Manhattan museums.  In the years since, I have introduced a great many people to this tried-and-true method of getting hooked on classics — always warning novitiates not to make the mistake of moving on too quickly from one piece to another. When they get impatient, their brain at times gets confused, being asked to decipher the complexities of one piece before it has thoroughly dealt with the earlier efforts. It does not always work, I’m afraid, but even when it fails, the people who have tried still are open to the pleasures of classical music, even though they never go to concerts or buy classical recordings or know what it is they are listening to.  Sometime around Christmas 1950, I tried an experiment with several of my buddies, who got together on Saturday night to play penny-ante poker in a game that lasted several hours. I purposely stacked the Gershwin on the player and every time it concluded, I began it again, so that by the end of the evening the boys were screaming at me to stop. I was discouraged until the following afternoon, when the doorbell to our apartment rang and I answered the door to find Richard Campanella, one of the boys. He had walked six blocks to ask if he could borrow the Gershwin, he said, as he could not get it out of his head. His father was a city cop on the Sheepshead Bay beat, with no discernible liking for anything classical. Campanella now lives in Vancouver, B.C., a professor of structural engineering at UBC the last time I heard from him. His classical collection is not as extensive as mine, but it is respectable, and he has over the years thanked me for making him suffer through that poker game.  Those I have encouraged since then have been given varied lists of ways to go. But I always suggest they start with the Concerto in F or Maurice Ravel’s two piano concerti. Like Gershwin, Ravel bridges the world of popular/jazz and the classical world. It helps that you sneak up on your brain, before it realizes you are asking it to decipher classical. Uncle Vince also gave me some interesting advice on the sequence of my appreciation of classical music. When I was 16 or 17, he told me I should wait until I was in my mid-30s before I began to seriously tackle grand opera, and that I should wait until I was in my 40s before I approached chamber music. Because he was such a good guide from the start, I took him seriously. Now, more than 40 years later, chamber music is near the top of my evening programming, especially Mozart and the late Beethoven string quartets.  The amount of pleasure a person can get from food, or drink, or winning at cards or dice, or reading great works of literature, or making money, is tiny compared to the pleasure derived from classical music over the course of his/her life. At this time of my life grand opera, more than anything else, fills my heart and enriches my soul. As a wise man once said, it is the most omnipotent of all the arts.  Try this sequence. Notice I’m not suggesting the Nutcracker Suite or Beethoven’s Fifth or Swan Lake, etc. It is a mistake to try to cultivate your brain by pandering to it with fluff. Beethoven’s 5th is not fluff, but you should put it way down your list so you can appreciate its profound dimensions, not the familiarity of its opening notes. Challenge your brain as if it were a computer separate and apart from the rest of you.

1. Gershwin Concerto in F
2. Ravel piano concertos (one for the left hand only)
3. Beethoven #6 symphony
4. Beethoven #4 piano concerto
5. Beethoven #7 symphony
6. Brahms #1 piano concerto
7. Brahms #1 symphony
8. Brahms #3 symphony
9. Mozart #40 symphony
10. The Bach, Brahms and Beethoven violin concerti.

Once you have worked your way through this series, drop me an e-mail and I will throw another batch at you. If you disagree with the sequence, please tell me so. And if it works, pass this on to others. It is the easiest way to increase the sum total of human pleasure. If you are going to give someone a Christmas gift of discovery, simply print a copy of this Memo on the Margin and wrap it up. It would be nice if you included the first compact disc. Gershwin’s Concerto in F is almost always accompanied by Rhapsody in Blue and/or An American in Paris. The two Ravel piano concerti usually are recorded together. At this earliest stage, the recording artists are not as important as they will be when your tastes become developed. Happy New Year.
Contest time again!!!

The 7th person to correctly email me the words (the final 6 lines) to the ending of this poem wins a copy of Johannah Bluedorn’s book The Lord Builds the House: The 127th Psalm.

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod
by Eugene Field (1850-1895)

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe ~
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
Where are you going, and what do you wish?
The old moon asked the three.
We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!
Said Wynken,
And Nod.
The old moon laughed and sang a song
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in the beautiful sea ~
Now cast your nets wherever you wish ~
Never afeard are we;
So cried the stars to the fisherman three:
And Nod.
All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam ~
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home;
‘Twas all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought ’twas a dream they’d dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea ~
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
And Nod.
Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one’s trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,……..
(last 6 lines missing)
From: Melody Peterman
Date: Sat, 8 Jan 2005

This is in response to B who was worried about her son’s military obsession. I have 3 boys ages 15, 13 and 5 — they all have a military obsession. When we studied ancient history we used to get bogged down in every battle we encountered, we built our own trebuchet and catapult when we studied medieval siege weapons.

Would it be possible for you to post what information you found as far as plans for these, and where you found it? My sons reaalllllly want to build a trebuchet. Although…we live in the country, and near us a family is building a bona fide castle.They dream about building their trebuchet and besieging the castle. I promise I won’t let them do that!

Melody Peterman
Date: Sun, 9 Jan 2005

Thank you, Mr. Wanniski, for your excellent guide to enjoying classical music.My six children and I were unknowingly addicted to classical music years ago when my husband’s bachelor uncle passed away.As the family members were going through his things, no one was paying any attention to his CD collection.He was a great Sousa fan and would treat anyone who would listen to the marches to a view of some of Sousa’s own batons, which he had in his possession.It was memorable for my husband as he was growing up, so I decided that would be a nice thing for our family to have.Also some Scottish bagpipes he was known to blast in his apartment.Anyway, along with these, he was a member to a monthly classical collection club or something.Having young children, I also selected a few well-known composers to introduce them to – though I knew little of them myself.

We began to play the classical along with the Sousa, over and over, since we had no other CD’s at that time.Over time we became addicted, and read and studied about the composers.We listen to many types of music, but for the kids and I, our preference is now far and above any other, classical music.They have learned piano and each have another instrument, and they even look forward to playing some of those familiar themes on their instruments…unlike those children who must have folk or pop tunes to be persuaded to play their instrument!

I know this began their love of music, and mine of classical music, and now they are at ages where we all enjoy an evening at the Grand Rapids Symphony!

(My husband is coming along much more slowly – being in his car much and listening more to oldies!;)

Thank you for the encouragement.Though our method was not as methodical, the system works, and I think we’ll work through your list anyway!(My 5 year old received a CD of An American In Paris for Christmas – since she was mesmerized by it when we heard it on the radio!)

Thanks again-
Karen Miller, Kelly, Joel, Ian, Avery, Paige, and Rachel
Hudsonville, Michigan
From: george upper
Date: Mon, 10 Jan 2005

The article on classical music was wonderful–thank you for sharing it. I do have one bone to pick with it, however. The writer says: “The amount of pleasure a person can get from food, or drink, or winning at cards or dice, or reading great works of literature, or making money, is tiny compared to the pleasure derived from classical music over the course of his/her life. At this time of my life grand opera, more than anything else, fills my heart and enriches my soul. As a wise man once said, it is the most omnipotent of all the arts.”

Actually, two bones, I guess.First, the phrase most omnipotent reminds me of the phrase very unique.It’s either omnipotent or it’s not–there are no degrees of absolute power. More important, however, is the fact that God chose to reveal himself through the Word, not through song.I’m sure that the author does, in fact, receive more pleasure from music than literature; but the sentence implies that pleasure is the goal.I’m all for pleasure, but as I do not subscribe to Christian hedonism, I think it worth pointing out that reading the great literary works will help us to sort out the issues that really matter.

Thanks again for the article!
George Upper
Caldwell Academy
Greensboro, NC
From: Conniecrenshaw
Date: Sun, 9 Jan 2005

Thank you for that last post re: classical music and the boy scout oath. I’m so cross with myself and homeschooling right now. I misapplied to the SAT for my senior who needs special accommodation. Now he has to take it stand by in two weeks and can’t use the accommodation he was allowed because now he’s stand by. My ninth grader slips off to any media available.   I have an ancient history class to finish preparing for our co-op tomorrow.  I want to spend more time with my 84yo parents. But I wake to read the heartwarming essay about a boy and his dear Uncle who taught him to enjoy classical music. I read Jay’s beautiful line, but what a man does with that aggression is the difference between a George Washington and an Osama bin Laden. And I remember we homeschoolers are pioneers headed into a new land. Can you imagine the irritation at a broken wheel, the anticipation of what lies ahead, the frustration of fixing a meal, the loved ones left behind and worse? More important than that, I remember that I am not raising these last two boys in my own competent strength but trusting in His.

2 Cor.12:9
Thank you for your loop.
From: Horns72
Date: Mon, 10 Jan 2005
Subject: Purchasing a bible

I have always used a KJV bible and would like to continue to do so. I would like to purchase a new one. Do you have any recommendations or any comments on this subject? Thanks so much!

God’s blessings. June Patty
About 20 years ago, after agonizing over the question, I finally switched from the KJV to the NewKJV for practical purposes. The NKJV translation is in modern English and conforms more to the latest scholarship in vocabulary and grammar, but follows the older KJV closely enough that it is fairly easy to transfer back and forth between them, and to use the Bible study tools originally based on the KJV. The NKJV does not have the archaisms and other obscurities of the KJV, but it also does not have the older Elizabethan English dramatic literary style which makes the KJV so memorizable.

The KJV and the NKJV are both based on the traditional Greek manuscripts, which I believe is a better choice. Some editions of the NKJV have textual notes which show where the majority of Greek manuscripts read differently and where some of the minority of manuscripts used in most modern translations read differently.

I can always find problems with any translation — including my own translations — and the KJV and the NKJV are no exceptions, but if you’ve always used the KJV, I can certainly understand not wanting to switch.

The KJV is no longer the best seller, being replaced by the NIV — which I don’t particularly recommend — followed by a dozen or more other designer translations (NASB, ESV, HCSB, NLT, NCV, etc.).

I don’t have any specific recommendations for a KJV Bible, but if you were perhaps interested in a parallel version, you might consider:

Nelson’s Kjv / Nkjv Parallel Bible With Center-column References

Product Description: This Bible allows KJV users to experience the readable, yet beautiful New King James Version.This is the only center-column reference Bible of its kind available. More than 60,000 center-column references work interchangeably with both translations. Complete textual footnotes accompany the NKJV text.

Leather Bound: 1584 pages
Publisher: Nelson Bibles (December 24, 2004)
ISBN: 0718009231
Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 7.2 x 1.7 inches

I hope you find these ramblings helpful.

May the Lord be your guide in everything.
From: Sherri G
Subject: Playstation and War Games
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2005

Hi, Karla,

I found your question to be very timely for me.We have 4 boys and one girl.My boys love star wars and can make a gun or a light saber out of any object they pick up, including hangers (actually those are bows).My husband and I never allowed toy guns, including water pistols in our house, but somehow that seems so pointless given the type of battle games they play daily with each other with common household objects.

We bought a Playstation 2 for our children two years ago. I regretted it almost immediately.They had the Star Wars battle games and several other get the bad guy type games. I found that after a couple of hours of playing on it, they got aggressive and mean-spirited. They tended to fight with each other (for real) while they were playing and for extended periods afterwards. I played a game on it with my oldest son one night and he got so upset he yelled at me! Something my son had never done before!We stopped the game immediately and I sent him to bed (it was late anyway). I got that same game out again and when a similar outburst occurred, coupled with some very hateful behavior to his younger brother, I removed the game from our home.

However, I started noticing that all of my boys struggled with their behavior both while they were playing and afterwards. Not so much when it was just a skiing game or racing game, but when it was the battle type games. I took it away from them once for 3 weeks and the difference in them was astonishing. It even negatively impacted their schooling when they would play a lot on the weekends.We sold it right before Christmas to someone with five girls!It is gone from our home and I couldn’t be happier. My children don’t seem to miss it now that it’s gone and they are back to their play fighting and using their imagination and moving those little bodies around the house instead of sitting for hours transfixed to the Playstation.

I will also mention that the games can really put a dent in your pocket book, too. It’s a very expensive piece of entertainment, with little or no redeeming value, in my opinion. I know that others have not had this same kind of experience. I read somewhere that research has shown that stimulating, aggressive video games do seem to cause a rise in aggression in the players. I don’t know why that it is.

Perhaps it’s because there is no physical outlet for the buildup of aggression that occurs when they are battling on the machine like there is when they are play fighting. Maybe it’s because the scenery and background surrounding the battle are so much more realistic than a livingroom or back yard is. I really don’t know why it is, but I witnessed it first hand with my boys and I’m glad it’s out of here.

God bless, Sherri
From: Lisa Wright
Subject: advice for child interested writing her own books
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2005

Dear Bluedorns,

I have a daughter who is thirteen and constantly drawing and telling stories.She is interested inlearningto illustrate and write her own children’s books.Could you advise how we should direct our daughter to sharpen her skills and how to proceed in this direction? I appreciate your wisdom in this area.

Lisa Wright
There used to be a contest called Written and Illustrated By……., but it was temporarily discontinued as of a couple of years ago. You might check it out, as it is useful in getting kids started in writing and illustrating children’s book. Helena entered it one year and won some kind of recognition. Johannah got started in children’s books when I suggested (or it might even have been that I made it an assignment) she write and illustrate a simple Greek alphabet book. She wrote it, we had it printed in small quantities at the local copy shop, and we figured out how to bind it at home (using a plastic comb binder purchased from She wrote a second one on the Hebrew alphabet and then one on Civil War Re-enactments, which we also produced home-made. At this same time she made greeting cards which we reproduced in a variety of way and sold at homeschool conventions. During all these years she was continually drawing and painting (my walls are covered with hers and Helena’s art), perfecting her skills.

The best way to start is to produce some home-made books, distribute them (or sell them if possible) to relatives or to others, see if she really likes doing this, and go from there.

When you reach the point of wanting to publish children’s book professionally, you might consider subscribing to our Christian Self-Publishing Yahoo Group. We are a group of about 180 homeschool/private school self-publishers.
From: Lauren and Kurt Carlson
Subject: Is Hebrew a dead language?
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2005

I have a question for Laurie and Harvey. Recently I was in a discussion via email with a Jewish woman who is using Sonlight and some classical homeschooling materials. She asserted that Hebrew is not a dead language and that thousands of people in Israel speak the same language that was spoken 3000 years ago.

In your book, TTT, on page 121-122, you assert that modern Hebrew was re-invented from the ancient.

My email friend thinks you may be confusing Hebrew with Aramaic. Although I don’t think that is the case, I am really interested in seeing a further explanation.


Lauren in GA
MOMYS to Josh (98), Autumn (99), Jac (00), Elisabeth (02) and Pete (04)
Millions of people speak both Modern Hebrew and Aramaic, which are both official languages in the modern state of Israel. But Modern Hebrew is not the same language as Ancient Hebrew spoken 3000 years ago. Aramaic has had a continuous history, but ancient Hebrew became essentially a dead language, like ancient Latin. It was literally re-invented with a modern vocabulary, a simplified grammar, and a simplified pronunciation.  Here are a few excerpts from Wikipedia: Hebrew was reborn as a spoken language during the late 19th and early 20th century as Modern Hebrew, replacing Arabic, Ladino, Yiddish, and other languages of the Jewish diaspora as the spoken language of the majority of the Jewish people living in Israel. Modern Hebrew is the primary official language of the state of Israel, (Arabic also has official language status). The Hebrew name for the language is Ivrit (pronounced eevREET).

The revival of Hebrew as a mother tongue was initiated by the efforts of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda(1858-1922). Ben-Yehuda, previously an ardent revolutionary in Tsarist Russia, had joined the Jewish national movement and immigrated to pre-State Israel in 1881. Motivated by the surrounding ideals of renovation and rejection of the diaspora lifestyle, Ben-Yehuda set out to develop a new language that the Jews could use for everyday communication.

While many saw his work as fanciful or even blasphemous, many soon understood the need for a common language amongst Jews of pre-state Israel who at the turn of the previous century were arriving in large numbers from diverse countries with many different languages. A Committee of the Hebrew Language was established. Later it became the Academy of the Hebrew Language, an organization that exists today. The results of his work and the Committee’s were published in a dictionary (The Complete Dictionary of Ancient and Modern Hebrew). Ben-Yehuda’s work fell on fertile ground, and by the beginning of the 20th century, Hebrew was well on its way to becoming the main language of the Jewish population of pre-State Israel.

Ben-Yehuda based Modern Hebrew on Biblical Hebrew. When the Committee set out to invent a new word for a certain concept, it searched through the Biblical word-indexes and foreign dictionaries, particularly Arabic. While Ben-Yehuda preferred Semitic roots to European ones, the abundance of European Hebrew speakers led to the introduction of numerous foreign words. Other changes which had taken place as Hebrew came back to life were the systematization of the grammar — the Biblical syntax was sometimes limited and ambiguous — and the adoption of standard Western punctuation.
From: Rachel Linn
Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2005
city: Diamond
state: MO

message: I have bought and read your book, Teaching the Trivium, and others on the Classic approach to education, so I respect your thoughts on the following matter. We are homeschooling our children (really still in the planning stage, although my 5 year old has learned to read quite well), and we have family pressure to use various other systems. We are not swayed, but I have been unable to find online a article giving a comprehensive comparison of specific education models, including Montessori (promoted by my sister in law), Waldorf (promoted by my other sister in law), Charlotte Mason, and the traditional public school model. I’ve read your article that deals with this, but since it only specifically mentions Charlotte Mason, without addressing the history of her style and her method more fully, and without mentioning Waldorf and Montessori, I hope you will write more on the subject. I know it’s asking a lot, but I would love to read your thoughts on this in the future.

Thank you very much, Rachel Linn
From: Stephanie Howey
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2005

We have 2 mighty men of valor we are growing at our house. We purchased “The Art of the Catapult” and “Backyard Ballistics,” both by William Gurstelle, published by Chicago Review Press, for them for Christmas. They are eagerly anticipating besieging all our unsuspecting neighbors, as soon as the snow clears…maybe in May.

We purchased both books from Vision Forum.
From Religious Denominations by Mr. Belcher:

In Ray’s Baptist Succession is given a description of the defense of John Walker, Lewis Craig and James Childs, in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. On June 4, 1768, they were dragged before the magistrates and indicted as “disturbers of the peace” because of their preaching. This action with others similar aroused the sympathy and aid of the renowned Patrick Henry, who decided to defend these innocent men and aid in their acquittal. The following is a description of what happened:

Three Baptist preachers were brought to trial for preaching. The indictment brought against them was “For preaching the gospel of the Son of God,” contrary to the statute in that case provided, and therefore, disturbers of the peace. The clerk was reading the indictment in a slow and formal manner, and he pronounced the crime with emphasis, “For preaching the gospel of the Son of God,” when a plain-dressed man dismounted his horse, entered the court-house, and took his seat within the bar. He was known to the court and lawyers, but a stranger to the mass of spectators, who had gathered on the occasion. This was PATRICK HENRY, who, on hearing of this prosecution, had rode some fifty or sixty miles from his residence in Hanover County, to volunteer his services in the defense of the prisoners. He listened to the further reading of the indictment with marked attention, the first sentence of which that had caught his ear was, ” For preaching the gospel of the Son of God.” When the indictment had been read, and the prosecuting attorney had submitted a few remarks. Henry arose, stretched out his hand and received the paper, and then addressed the court:

“May it please your worships: I think I heard read by the prosecutor as I entered this house, the paper I now hold in my hand. If I have rightly understood, the king’s attorney of this colony has framed an indictment for the purpose of arraigning and punishing by imprisonment inoffensive persons before the bar of this court, for a crime of great magnitude­-as disturbers of the peace. May it please the court, what did I hear read ? Did I hear it distinctly, or was it a mistake of my own? Did I hear an expression, as if a crime, that these men, whom your worships are about to try for a misdemeanor, are charged with that!” and continuing, in a low, solemn, heavy tone, “For preaching the gospel of the Son of God!” Pausing amidst the most profound silence and breathless astonishment of his hearers, he slowly waved the paper three times around his head, then, lifting up his hands and eyes to heaven, with extraordinary and impressive energy, he exclaimed, “GREAT GOD!” The exclamation­-the action­-the burst of feeling from the audience were all overpowering. Mr. Henry resumed:

“May it please your worships: In a day like this, when truth is about to burst her fetters; when mankind are about to be raised to claim their natural and inalienable rights; when the yoke of oppression which has reached the wilderness of America, and the unnatural alliance of ecclesiastical and civil power is about to be dissevered, at such a period when liberty­-liberty of conscience–is about to awake from her slumbering and inquire into the reason of such charges as I find exhibited here today in this indictment!” Another fearful pause, while the speaker alternately cast his sharp, piercing eyes on the court and the prisoners, and resumed: “If I am not deceived, according to the contents of the paper I now hold in my hand, these men are accused of ‘preaching the gospel of the Son of God.’-­GREAT GOD!” Another long pause, during which he again waved the indictment around his head, while a deeper impression was made on the auditory. Resuming his speech: “May it please your worships: there are periods in the history of man when corruption and depravity have so long debased the human character that man sinks under the weight of the oppressor’s hand and becomes his servile­-his abject slave; he licks the hand that smites him; he bows in passive obedience to the mandates of the despot, and in this state of servility he receives his fetters of perpetual bondage. But, may it please your worships, such a day has passed away! From the period when our fathers left the land of their nativity for settlement in these American wilds­-for LIBERTY-­for civil and religious liberty­-for liberty of conscience­-to worship their Creator according to their conceptions of Heaven’s revealed will; from the moment they placed their feet on the American continent, and in the deeply imbedded forests sought an asylum from persecution and tyranny­-from that moment despotism was crushed; her fetters of darkness were broken, and Heaven decreed that man should be free-­free to worship God according to the Bible. Were it not for this, in vain have been the efforts and sacrifices of the colonists; in vain were all their sufferings and bloodshed to subjugate this new world, if we, their offspring, must still be oppressed and persecuted. But, may it please your Worships, permit me to enquire once more: for what are these men about to be tried? This paper says ‘for preaching the Gospel of the Son of God.’ GREAT GOD. For preaching the Saviour to Adam’s fallen race!”

After another pause, in tones of thunder he enquired:”WHAT LAW HAVE THEY VIOLATED?” Then, for the third time, in a slow, dignified manner, he lifted his eyes to heaven, and waved the indictment around his head. The court and the audience were now wrought up to the most intense pitch of excitement. The face of the prosecuting attorney was pale and ghastly, and he appeared unconscious that his whole frame was agitated with alarm; and the judge, in a tremulous voice, put an end to the scene, now becoming extremely painful, by the authoritative command: “Sheriff discharge those men!”
And the Winner Is:A Guide to Newbery Medal Winners from a Christian Perspective

This booklet contains reviews of all the Newbery Medal Winners from 1921 (when the first Newbery Award was given) through 2004. Several of the Newbery Honor Books (runners up for the award) are included as well. Over 115 books are reviewed in all. The reviews have been done  from a biblical, Christian perspective, and we have endeavored to  discuss the reasons for any concerns so that you may make your own decisions regarding their suitability for their children.We realize that what may be of concern for some families (such as elements of  magic), may not be a problem for others. Also included is a listing  of all the books by historical time period so that you may choose  books that go along with your other studies or areas of interest. The cost of the booklet is $6.50 + $2.00 postage.If you want more  than one book, there is a break on the postage costs. For more  information, go to
This is not just a booklist. Not only is it an annotated list of the Newbery books, but the authors give their opinions on each book, evaluating them for their suitability for young children and suggesting to us which books are valuable to read and which are a waste of time. Also included is a chart listing the Newbery books by historical time period, and a list of all the Newbery medal winners from 1922 to the present.  If you spend a lot of time reading aloud to your children, you’ll probably want to have this booklet.

From: th….
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2005
state: NC

I am a hsing mom of 4, 16yrs. down to 20 months. I had a public school education, and somehow survived 4 years at …….University. I am NOT intellectual at all, although I do love to argue my opinions from time to time! (Just ask my dh!!!)

How in the world could I lead my children in a classical education? Truly, although I do have a 4-year degree, I am very ignorant of academic stuff. I took a particular professor’s history class (2, actually) because he gave you the test questions ahead of time…that’s how much I did what I had to do to get by. I want much more for my children, but am so intimidated!

Do you have any thoughts/advice/encouragement?
Well, you are in the same boat as I was — although I don’t have a college degree. The question isn’t, how much do I know, but, am I willing and wanting to learn.  The way you will lead your children is to just start learning and modeling the kind of attitudes which lead to developing an inquiring mind. And they will follow you, unless, of course, you have allowed things in their lives which interfere with learning. You probably know what kinds of things those are — too much socialization with peers, video and computer games, television and movies, certain kinds of music. If you want them to learn Greek or Latin, then learn it along with them. If microscope work and biology interests you, then buy yourself a good quality microscope and teach the kids as you learn. If you’ve never really studied ancient history but would like to start now, choose one of the many courses available today and learn it together. Transform your home from Better Homes and Gardens to Smithsonian. Let the kids develop their creativity by collecting and sorting rocks and bugs and learn to draw by imitating the masters and framing their work. At this stage of our lives, I have given to my girls complete jurisdiction over the kitchen and living quarters so that they can learn to run a household — but I KEEP jurisdiction over the walls. I don’t think it is possible to hang even one more painting or piece of art, but I like it this way.

Can you give us ideas for what books would be good to have to aid in our Bible study time. We are going through the book of John now and we come across a word that we would like to know the original Greek meaning or root word, for example. What would Harvey suggest that would help us to examine the Scriptures and dig deeper into our study of the Word, keeping in mind neither one of us knows any Greek or Hebrew.

1. Study Bible:
The Nelson Study Bible, NKJV: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997.
New English Translation (on the internet, but also printed version with extensive notes)

2. Bible Cross References:
The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge , edited revised and expanded by Jerome Smith. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992.

3. Bible Dictionary:
Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary
The New Bible Dictionary International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

4. Bible Handbook, Bible Atlas:
Halley’s Bible Handbook
The MacArthur Bible Handbook
Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts

5. Topical Bibles:
Nave’s Topical Bible

6. Greek and English Word Studies (for those who know little to nothing about Greek and Hebrew):
(These are all different in some way, but they cover the same territory.)
The New Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words , by James L. Strong. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996.
The New Strong’s Expanded Dictionary of Bible Words
Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words
Strong’s Concise Concordance and Vine’s Concise Dictionary of the Bible

7. Interlinears:
Berry’s Interlinear (older work, get the edition keyed to Strong’s numbers.)
Green’s Interlinear (newer work, keyed to Strong’s numbers, can get just the New Testament or the entire Bible)

8. KJV Concordances (Other translations have their own concordances.):
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance — arranged alphabetically by English words, with numbers indicating the Greek and Hebrew words.
Young’s Analytical Concordance — arranged alphabetically by English words, then under the English word references are arranged by Greek or Hebrew words which are translated by the English word.

9. Theology
John Gill’s Body of Divinity (older work, but very comprehensive, very Calvinistic)
Systematic Theology, by Wayne Grudem (modern work)

10. Smaller Commentary
Matthew Henry Commentary (very devotional)
Albert Barnes Commentary (more technical)
John Gill’s Commentaries (very detailed)
From: Donna Vail
Subject: training children
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2005

Hi Laurie,

I loved your email about turning your home into the Smithsonian rather than Better Homes and Gardens. My husband has been successful at telecommuting from home for his job since we have come home from the accident. While it was treacherous at first working out our old ways and trying to rebuild our family structure we have now reached a peaceful point and are seeing quicker results in the implementation of training issues since both my husband and I are putting forth effort full time. I never realized how much the structure was changed or affected due to my husband working outside of the home on a full time basis.I myself was reading and implementing what I was learning and sharing what I could with my husband. He would agree and we were never on opposite pages. I believe it is hard for a man to be gone so much and still be on top of leading his family with the Word and training. I believe that even more with this hands-on experience and realize the importance of bringing Dad home.

My question to you is: can you please elaborate on children working in the home. At what ages and what types of things did you have your daughters take over to learn how to run a household? And what can boys do? Any advice or ideas will be greatly appreciated.  Thank you and your family for being pioneers and sharing your life with us. God bless you and yours abundantly.

Peace of Christ,
Donna Vail
Garden Valley, Texas
It would take a book to tell it all, but here are a few suggestions. I’m sure there are others on this list who could be more descriptive. At about age 10, most girls seem capable of preparing an entire meal, from start to finish. Start simple, such as a baked potato, lettuce salad, and cottage cheese. Teach her how to plan out her meal, write the grocery list, and shop for the items. I have experience with only two boys, and our experience with them cooking the meals wasn’t pleasant. At first we had them take their turn in the chore list rotation, but after about a year we gave them different chores.

We had (and still have) a weekly rotating schedule:

For our 3 daughters:
Chores Set #1 Fix lunch (our big meal of the day) — this includes planning, seeing that the groceries are purchased, cooking, and cleaning up
Chores Set #2 Put away all clean dishes, fix light supper, put away laundry
Chores Set #3 Wash breakfast and supper dishes

One son has always taken care of vacuuming the floors, even from age 7 or 8. Boys are good at this. They are also good at washing the floors. Lots of water, clean rags, a bit of soap and you will have a clean floor, a clean boy, and wet clothes.

Some families have the kids do their own laundry, but I never found this to be useful. I prefer someone to run the clothes through the washer and dryer and someone else to fold and put away. Folding and putting away can be done by a 7 or 8 year old, it seems to me. The washer and dryer part would be more for an older child.

These are just a few ideas and we welcome other input.

One point I would like to make. Don’t just dish out chores. Give the child jurisdiction over them. Long ago I gave jurisdiction over my kitchen to my girls. They take pleasure in planning, buying, cooking, and serving. When we have guests, I seldom know what will be served unless I’m the one doing the shopping that week, and then I might have an idea. They have jurisdiction over the decorating — except the walls — I keep that so I can hang all my art. I let them pick the curtains, the paint, the carpet, whatever they like, within our budget. I let them make mistakes, within reason, of course, and learn from them. I do not micro-manage. I let them arrange my stuff. I think a child can gain more pleasure from work if they know they aren’t just servants working for a master, but are a partner in the whole endeavor.

From: Kelly Midkiff
Subject: a question about independent reading
Date: Fri, 4 Feb 2005

I have a question for any who care to respond. I realize there are different views on this and that’s fine… I’m just in need of a different perspective.

My son, who will be 12 in April, really hates to read. He BEGS for more read-aloud time (we do about 2 hours of it now and are working towards more) but when assigned a book to read for himself he loathes it. He is a carpenter at heart and I think sitting there reading just annoys him. There are so many enjoyable things for an almost-12yo boy to be doing! (His thoughts!) Austin is obedient so he does read but the spark/enjoyment isn’t there and he doesn’t get much out of the assignment. It’s important to note that he will read his bible willingly and loves the Greek work we are now doing as well as his twice weekly Jesus Freaks reading assignment. He just can’t seem to get into reading a whole book for himself.

My question is this: should I MAKE him read the books I have chosen for his 7th grade requirements or should I just wait until the spark ignites and he is driven to read on his own? This seems to be a training issue and my husband is adamant about the children being readers. He wasn’t as he received a public school education. I personally was homeschooled and my mother had to pry books out of my hands so I would come to the dinner table! Obviously Austin’s response to reading is a bit appalling. I can’t imagine not liking to sit and read a book. ;o)

From: Donna Vail
Date: Fri, 4 Feb 2005

Dear Melinda,

I have experience using Sonlight Curriculum for three years for my first born daughter during grades 1-3.The difficulty we had with Sonlight was the demanding schedule.I am one who thrives on organization and schedules however it is laid out by someone else instead of you and your husband with God’s inspiration.I have experienced and know of others using Sonlight who have the overwhelming feeling of being behind.With home schooling it is about so much more than just academics as described in Teaching The Trivium.My first born is now 14 and I have a 9yob, 6yog, 4yob, 22mob, and one on the way.After that third year of Sonlight we took off a year.We explored the world (gardening, the library, reading, zoo….) and de-briefed ourselves from formal school conditioning.I read a lot of Charlotte Mason, everything I could find on her.We found Robinson Curriculum and slowly started doing that. I used Managers of Their Home for scheduling and working on training the children in household services and discipline. It was later that I was blessed with Teaching the Trivium. It was just the “living waters” I needed for our continued growth and desire to serve the Lord.I continue on a regular basis to re-read TTT and am continually renewed with inspiration.Remember the Bluedorns have included with each level a suggested schedule.(And extensive references for books and curric in the back).Adjust that schedule to what works for your family.If you get up later then move the times down.For our family we do family worship at the end of our day.If you use the chart “Ten Things To Do Before Age Ten” then you will be covering EVERYTHING.If you do not own the book I would suggest that is the first thing you purchase.It will cost less and give you so much more than a box of a years worth of curriculum that costs hundreds of dollars more.And in a pinch I think the Ten Things list is on their website.***I have attached a copy of the spreadsheet that I use with my TTTbook to plan what to do with each child.The second file is a sample of notes I make to fill it out.I usually hand write it while researching/reading TTT.Maybe that will help gather your thoughts of what you are covering.And just start with one thing at a time.Sounds like you already have a great start and are doing much more than you realize.Remember with home schooling it is cumulative rather than everything daily.It is important to keep a discipline going because not only are we teaching academics but it is a discipline working out so many character issues and their relationship with God.You would be on the 10 things before 10 so just imagine how much you will get to do by the time she is 10.The Bluedorns are highly experienced and inspired by God in their writing TTT.Everything that I have used out of it is proven correct and right on point.What I notice is that children that are buried under academics and much goings and comings have glazed over eyes and are not as balanced as the children who are home educated as a lifestyle, as the Trivium and kept at home.Isn’t that how to HOME school, at home? Take your time, read, study and pray.Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss further or have a question.

Peace of Christ to you and yours,
Donna Vail
Date: Fri, 4 Feb 2005
Reply to #6 about stuttering:

We have 3 children and each one stuttered for a few months when between the ages of 2 and 3.I’m not claiming to be a professional, but my motherly thinking about this preschool-aged stuttering is that during these years a child’s understanding of and capacity for language is growing by leaps and bounds!Hence, I believe that when my children were in this stage that their mouths just couldn’t keep up with the capacity of thoughts that were in their brains!When they stuttered, I would just calmly stroke their cheeks, or hair while giving them, at eye level, my full attention.I wanted them to know that I would focus on what they were saying for as long as it took them to say it, hopefully relieving them of the pressure to talk fast.After a few weeks, their stuttering completely resolved itself, as, I believe, their mouths finally developed sufficiently to be able to keep up with their thoughts!

Several friends I knew fretted and wrung their hands over their 2-year old child’s stuttering, worrying about it for weeks, finally taking them to a speech therapist who promptly announced that sure enough the child had a serious speech problem, and needed speech therapy immediately.(HUH?!)The child’s stuttering actually got worse during the therapy (probably due to the pressure and the stress of the parents!)Invariably, after a few months, the child’s stuttering just all-of-a-sudden went away!!(AMAZING!!!)As a mom, I remember when my children were learning to express themselves verbally, spending countless moments patiently correcting their phonetics so as to let them hear each phoneme spoken correctly, even taking apart the syllables of a word to practice pronouncing each sound separately before trying them altogether, ie:when one child used the l sound for y, as in lellow instead of yellow, I would have her practice just saying ye, ye, then low, low, etc. until she could do it together.Also, I would repeat back to my children correctly their incorrectly spoken phrases or disagreeing subjects and verbs.And, of course, much time was spent talking and reading aloud to them while encouraging them to talk back to me!!I believe for many 2 and 3 and even 4 year olds, a lot of needless worry can be prevented by the parent just being patient through this wondrous time of speech development!

Blessings, Jill
Here is a short piece, written by Ann Voskamp, which I though might encourage some of you. Laurie Bluedorn

May the Children Eat First by Ann Voskamp

The mill runs every day in our house. Grinding kernels early in the dawn for steamy bowls of cream of wheat.  And twice weekly it runs, so like the little Red Hen, I can grind the wheat and make the bread for all of the hungry little tummies that make their home here. I line up the loaf pans, tuck in a sheet of parchment paper, then cradle the soft dough into their wee beds, finally spreading a warm wet blanket over the cribs so they can rise in sleep. Bread for my babies.  Nothing says satisfaction like whole wheat bread hot out of the oven, butter soaking in, taste buds savoring.

Jesus knew this.
Mark 7:27  And Jesus said to her, First, allow the children to be satisfied, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and to throw it to the dogs.

Who is getting fed first?

Are my children satisfied first every day? Before phone calls, household chores, email inboxes, message boards, errands, volunteer activities, church functions, hobbies…..are my children deeply and fully satisfied with soul-filling nourishment? With me. With laughter. With hugs. With shared stories. With music and dancing and poetry and literature and art and nature and wind and sky and LIFE. I am done with giving life’s bread—time, memories, investments, me—to the dogs: to empty net surfing, to obsessive housecleaning, to expert’s agendas, to mindless, non-eternal activities. May those dogs find their bread somewhere else.   In this house, the children will be satisfied FIRST.  I am the Little Red Hen….making bread. The wafting smell of living bread will fill our children, their grumbling souls will find satisfaction, and we will taste deeply of life together. My children are smiling and satisfied.  And so am I.  Lord, You are the Bread of Life. I need You for my very Sustenance….to consume You so that You are my very Life. Then I can satisfy my soul-hungry children.
Contest Time!!!

The 7th person to correctly answer this contest question will win a copy of Raising Maidens: A Study of Feminine Loveliness for Mothers and Daughters by Stacy McDonald, illustrated by Johannah Bluedorn (published by Books on the Path).

What is the name of this speech and who gave it?

“My loving people, we have been persuaded by some, that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you, I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people.

Let tyrants fear; I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects. And therefore I am come amongst you at this time, not as for my recreation or sport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all; to lay down, for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honour and my blood, even the dust.

I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart of a king, and of a king of England, too; and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realms: to which, rather than any dishonour should grow by me, I myself will take up arms; I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.

I know already, by your forwardness, that you have deserved rewards and crowns; and we do assure you, on the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you. In the mean my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble and worthy subject; not doubting by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and by your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over the enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people.”
From: aejohn316
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2005
Subject: Read Aloud about Martin Luther

HI! Could you recommend a good read aloud about the life of Martin Luther? Someone gave us a book about him, but it is more like a textbook, which doesn’t make for interesting read aloud sessions–for any of us!
From Dark to Dawn: A Tale of Martin Luther and the Reformation
From: Allendenna
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2005
Subject: Response to Kelly on son not liking to read

Hello Kelly!

I thought I might post this to give you some encouragement. My oldest son, now a 21 year old college student, sounds just like your son. We homeschooled him all the way through high school and, even at his graduation, I felt that I had “failed” him in the area of love of reading.

When he was younger, he was taught to read well and had excellent comprehension. He read his Bible willingly and we had no unusual discipline problems with school work. Read-aloud and books-on-tape were well received. But he never read for pleasure, EVER. I had despaired of him ever learning to love reading the way I do. Reading is like breathing to me, and I had so wanted to share this with him, and when he was 12 (14, 17) it looked like it would never happen.

Well, you have to work with what you have, and even if he didn’t enjoy it, he had assigned reading. I didn’t give him as many books as the ‘love to read” kids, but there are some things a well-educated person simply needs to read. I told him that some things just need to be done because they need to be done and liking/not liking it was not an issue (like doing dishes!). Along the way, I kept reading, kept talking about what I was reading (without pushing motherly-guilt onto him), kept a large variety of materials available, kept doing books-on-tape, etc. So, the environment was reader-friendly. One of the other things that I did was to get excellent movies of the books I wanted him to be familiar with, and we watched them as a family. I couldn’t help that at the end the same thing always popped out of my mouth, “Well, that was a good movie…but the book is better.” No guilt, just my honest opinion.

So, what was the result? Somewhere around 19 years, he just started inhaling books – and this is while he’s in college and working too. I asked him what happened, and his answer was that our home was filled with good books and he got curious. Also, he finally got to wondering if the book really was better than the movie. Finding the answer to be yes, he just kept on reading. He’s now read everything I ever had hoped that he would, and gone on to things that we can read and discuss together – one of the many joys of having adult children with you.

I also asked him if he thought my decision to assign a moderate amount of reading – and insisting that it be read- was a good one. Answer – yes – and that I could have assigned a little more without burdening him. He didn’t like it, but it was good for him.

So, my advice to you is to be kind to yourself and don’t eat yourself up with guilt (like I did). He might not like to read – but it won’t kill him. Maybe, someday he’ll even enjoy it.

Blessing to you!
Denna Christine Flickner
From: “Keith Zacek”
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2005

From Donna:
My question to you is: can you please elaborate on children working in the home. At what ages and what types of things did you have your daughters take over to learn how to run a household? And what can boys do? Any advice or ideas will be greatly appreciated.

Since Laurie said she was open to hearing how others are training their children to work in the home, I thought I’d share what we’ve done.

My children are a son-16, son-14, daughter-11, son-7, daughter-3, daughter-1.

When the first 3 were 6, 9 & 11, we had the 6yo washing breakfast dishes, since it was usually just cereal bowls or plates from toast. Anything too messy and I’d do it, until she was a little older. The boys alternated lunch and dinner each day. This way each child washed once a day and one didn’t always have the worst meal. Also, before washing, the child had to put the clean dishes away, as a means of quality control. Eventually that wasn’t working because if there were several dirty dishes from the last meal, we had to call the “offender” over to wash those dirty ones before the others could be done and it just snowballed from there. After a couple of years I realized that the daughter was the same as as #2 son had been when he washed the messier dishes, so we moved to daily dishes. Ryan did Mondays and Thursdays, Brandon – Tuesdays and Fridays and Tasha – Wednesdays and Saturdays. (I have done Sundays through it all.) This all got easier 2 years ago when we got a non-human dishwasher. Now they just have to load and unload most dishes, hand washing only those that won’t come clean in the dishwasher. We also have 2 cleaning days a week (Tu & Sat) for dusting, vacuuming and bathrooms, and we rotated those weekly. This all worked out for the past few years, but due to other things in our schedule which upsets the time of getting dishes done, we just changed the routine again. We are now rotating all these things weekly. One week the child does all the dishes (except Sunday.) The next week they do the vacuuming (our house has 3 stories.) The third week they do the dusting and bathrooms. It isn’t totally balanced, but they like the fact that they now get 2 whole weeks of no dishes! The other cleaning – floor washing, windows, etc. – get done periodically with no set person. Usually the younger ones help with those. I have just recently realized that son #3 is now 7 and the same age his sister was when she started doing all these chores – except dusting things she couldn’t reach. So I will have to tweek the system a little and get him involved more. He helps put dishes away sometimes, sets the table and puts away his own clothes. The older 3 do their own laundry – Ryan on Monday, Brandon on Tuesday and Tasha on Wednesday. Now that we have a front-loading washer Noah can actually do his, too, as he can reach the controls – he just needs reminding. I am thinking about having the older ones help the younger ones with their laundry, too, since I am doing laundry for 4-5 people.

We just started having the children pick a meal or two a week and help prepare those. Ryan and Brandon can already cook a few simple meals. Ryan has no desire to do more. His specialty is macaroni and cheese and PB&J! But he can do tuna and noodles, spaghetti, anything that is just meat, noodles and a sauce. Brandon should go to culinary school. He loves to cook and eat! When we picked our first menu, he ended up with 6 choices – his 2, Ryan’s 2 and 2 more. Tasha is willing to learn and wants to, it’s just harder to keep her undistracted. And of course the younger ones want to help, too, so I let them unless I’m really pressed for time.

I still tend to do too much of the work myself, especially with so many children. I’m finding that I’m going to have to take a lot of time for a little while to get them all trained so that I can have a little more free time. Well, not really free time, but time to do all the things with them I’d like to do – especially the little ones that I hardly ever get to do things with that I did with the older ones when they were little. I know it will be worth the effort, but it is definitely EFFORT. I sure wish I’d known all this when the older ones were little so I could have trained them then when they were willing. Instead I foolishly did all the work myself because it was faster! Oh, well – they are good kids and still trainable!

Cheryl Zacek
The Spanish Armada Speech by Queen Elizabeth I of England Addressed to the English army at Tilbury Fort – 1588
From: M P
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2005

I was hoping you could help me with a thought about the appropriate age to begin my sons with the Masters Academy of Fine Arts (aka MAFA). I actually learned about this program from reading one of your loops. My oldest son will be 5 in July, the second son will be 4 in August and then I have a two year old and a baby on the way. Of course the two year old and baby would stay with me. The question I was wondering, is a 5 and 4 year old too young to begin this once a week, 3 hour program? If you are not familiar with it, it is of course a classical program of history, art, music and drama. The nearest program is approximately 1 ½ hours away. That does not bother me. If it is of value I would not bat an eye lash.

My boys are home educated, they are extremely bright (what mother doesn’t think that), creative, and active little creatures. All of what I hope to keep and instill more in them as they mature. Would this be too young of an age to start? Should be wait a year? My intentions are to begin some reading, phonics, a little writing, math with the oldest. We read all the time and he is probably ready, but I am waiting just a little longer. He has mastered the ABC’s can write quite well and knows the numbers etc. All from having little to no structured help from me. I know you are not surprised, you have educated your children and you know how bright they are.

Any help or insight would be so appreciated.
I have never been involved with the Masters Academy, but from the information on their web page it looks like an excellent opportunity. I would suggest that it would be more of a benefit to children ages ten and up. Children below age ten don’t need that kind of socialization. They mostly need the socialization which comes with being home with Mommy and Daddy and brother and sister. If, at an early age, you involve yourself too much in the other than home type of socialization, then the children develop a taste, at an early age, for the excitement and flurry of activity of age segregated socialization. It seems best to me to avoid developing those types of appetites. You might think, Well, it’s only 3 hours a week. But this is exactly the spark that will develop the appetite that you want to avoid — and isn’t one of the reasons which you chose to homeschool that you want to keep your children from developing a peer dependent mindset? So, in conclusion, I can say most positively, absolutely, undeniably and reliably, no. I wouldn’t do it. They don’t need it, and you don’t want it. Laurie
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2005
From: Curtis F Knapp

I’m a Little House fan, and am reading through the series with my girls. We are now in Little Town on the Prairie and something struck me the other day. Laura was describing the activities at recess and spoke of the boys playing anteover. I grew up playing a game called Handy-andy-over.It was a game my Grandpa had played when he was a boy in the early 1920’s. He still lives in the same house (the house is important to the game) so his kids played it, and then we played it, too. I suspicion it to be the same game, with the name change due to the different way sounds can be heard by people for whom English is a second language, or just the way children hear a word they have never seen, and categorize it to something they know. For fun, here is how you play the game.

You need: a ball, a building with at least a portion of its roof sloping down from a ridgepole in the front and in the back (the front and back of the house have roof parts that slant up and meet with no plateau between them) and low enough to toss a ball over top, and two teams.The more the merrier, and teams can be odd sized but roughly the same in number.  A rep from each team participates in a penny toss.The winner can choose either to start with the ball or pick a favorite side of the house, barn, building…..The teams go to their sides and the team with the ball calls Handy andy over (or ante ante over – when you are yelling it sounds the same) and tosses the ball up the slant and then it rolls down the other side and the opposing team tries to catch it. If they fumble it, they wait a few seconds to make the other side begin to sweat, then throw it back over (if someone has a good arm they sail it right over and it never touches the roof – that’s just for people like me).You can try to throw it so far that the other side will not be far enough back to catch it. If the receiving team catches the ball then they immediately split  into two parts and dash around the house, each with one hand behind his  back or hidden so that the other side cannot tell who has the ball.The  ball carrier does not have to be the one who caught the ball and should  try to tag as many people as possible with the ball.You can play it  that you have to touch the person with the ball or that you can also  throw the ball at the legs.The winning team is the one that consumes  the other.A team down to one person can still make a comeback and win,  and players remain loyal to the team they are on at a given moment (you  cannot try to help the other team by being caught, etc.).This is a great outside, multi-generational, boys and girls game.

Catherine Knapp
Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2005

Hello! I am thoroughly enjoying reading Teaching the Trivium.The newsletter is fantastic, too.

I would like to comment on children and chores.I have always taught my boys meal planning and preparation and basic sewing skills right along with my daughter and feel that is important for them to have those skills, as well.Though I pray they will all be blessed with godly wives who will love being keepers of their homes, I want the boys to understand and appreciate the work that is involved in that.I also want them to be able to more than adequately help their wives should they fall ill or during those difficult times immediately following child bearing.I really feel that I would be doing my sons a disservice by raising them up to be dependent upon eating out or taking advantage of the kindness of others because they are unable to care for their own household needs until the time the Lord brings them their wives.Likewise, my husband has taught our daughter basic mechanic skills, etc.We definitely do NOT want to raise a liberated woman, but we do want her to be a help to her husband should he need it and to not be unable to survive should she find herself widowed.

Thank you for this wonderful ministry and have a very blessed day!

Lisa Harris
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2005
From: Richard D Cali
Re: Read Aloud about Martin Luther

Our family enjoyed my husband’s reading last year of Luther the Leader by Virgil Robinson.

Debbie Cali
From: Shelby
Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2005

Hi!I recently read somewhere the phrase buy tools not toys.I think it was off one of the TTT newsletters.Does anyone have any ideas for tools not toys for the 3-7 age range, both boys and girls, other than a sewing machine or microscope?

Thanks, Shelby
some simple carpenter tools such as a small hammer, screw driver, plyers (make sure you teach your children how to safely use them)
good quality flash light which they can fasten onto their belts
a sewing box filled with some simple sewing paraphernalia (cross stitch thread and needle and large square aida cloth, etc)
small gardening equipment (shovel, hoe, rake) — are these available in small sizes?
What else can we add to this list?
From: Y
Subject: sewing
Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2005

Laurie, I hope you don’t mind a sewing machine question.Is it better to get an overlock or regular sewing machine? My sewing machine that I bought new many years ago, in spite of being worked on repeatedly, has tension problems; I realize it was a dud from the beginning but I didn’t know any better to take it back right away. There are so many machines out there it’s confusing.I don’t want to buy another dud. I’d like something that could sew knit clothing but be heavy  duty enough to hem blue jeans.I have all boys but the youngest, age 11,  wants to do whatever I do, including my attempts at sewing and knitting. It actually could be a good experience; we know someone who turned his sewing skills into a business, but at this point, I’m thinking of it more for personal use and ministry for others.

Thanks for any insight.:-)
From: Carol Karkazis
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2005

Dear Nathan and Hans,

I have been using your book The Fallacy Detective with my 13 year-old son. I just wanted to tell you how much I am enjoying it (and so is my son). Although he is reluctant to admit that he is enjoying it, I hear him sharing bits and pieces of it to his father and brothers.

Your vision to inspire others to study logic is so needed in today’s world. You’ve inspired me! That’s how I found this website.I was wondering what to do after we finish your book. Lo and behold, the answer is here on your website! I am so excited to learn more and am eagerly anticipating your sequel. I often find in homeschooling circles a fear to listen to opposing views (as well as condemnation for those who hold opposing views). This is not influential on a culture that needs Christ.Your comments on child-rearing (freedom for children to disagree) are also so needed.

I admire and thank you and your parents for a job well-done.
From: Susan Hawk
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2005

This email is overdue. I’ve been meaning to write you for a while.

I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed The Fallacy Detective. I’ve always loved logic, but have studied the other branches – syllogisms, Venn diagrams, stuff like that. I ordered your book on the recommendation of a friend when I was preparing to teach a logic class to our HS co-op.

I had always wanted to learn the names for logical fallacies, so your book was great. My 11yo son loves it. And if I teach logic again for our co-op, I’ll do a semester just on logical fallacies.

Here’s the story I’ve been meaning to tell you: One week during logic class, we played lots of games. I started the class by playing a card trick on the kids. It’s a really cool trick. I let a girl pick a card, she looked at it and showed it to the other kids. Then I used my cell phone to call the Wizard, who got on the phone and told her what card she was holding.

Anyway, once we were done with that and on to some other games and puzzles, I was drawing a puzzle on the white board when the girl who had picked the card for the wizard trick asked me, did you know what my card was?

I just looked at her and asked, how could I know your card? You kept it hidden from me, and then I turned back to the board. My son (he was 10yo at the time) hollered out from his seat, RED HERRING!!!! You didn’t answer her question! All the other kids joined in and there was a chorus of children shouting, Red Herring! at their teacher. I hid behind the white board and laughed until I sheepishly came out and admitted to the girl that yes, I knew what her card was before I called the wizard.

So thanks for the help in naming the fallacies. Thought you might get a chuckle out of my story. You have to be careful what you teach your kids, because they turn it back on you! LOL

Susan Hawk
From: The Hamiltons
Subject: sewing
Date: Sun, 6 Mar 2005

I was having my sewing machine worked on by local repair woman and had a very interesting conversation about sewing machines. I don’t remember any brands in particular, except Singer, but she mentioned several brands that were worthless. I only remember Singer because that is a classic. She said Singer used to produce good machines, but now they are awful and not repairable. Anyway, my point was you might give your local repair shop a call and ask for a recommendation.

Vanessa in GA
From: Kerry Beck
Subject: RE: grammar  ancient history
Date: Sun, 6 Mar 2005


You asked Should I be upset and worried that he is missing out on some facts, I mean the kid is only in 2nd grade? NO, Absolutely not. I believe you are just giving an overview of history in the grammar stage, stopping along the way when you find interests or something you think is important.We are covering the ancient period for the second time with my 12yo.I don’t know if he remembers anything from the first time westudied it (my older 2 girls do remember some of it).

I would encourage you to give your child a strong base in Bible history as you study ancient history.Two sources come to mind. Greenleaf’s Old Testament guide is great to take you through all the narratives of the OT.We began OT a a few months before we did Egypt.You can easily start it now and review some of Egypt history as it comes up.TruthQuest is my absolute favorite history guide.You can read through the commentary yourself and share part with your child.Then you can use the books suggested in the guide for your son to read himself or you to read aloud.As TQ moves through a civilization, Michelle gives commentary from a Biblical worldview.At each major theme, she gives lengthy lists of books with appropriate reading levels.TQ continually asks the questions “who is god?” and “who, then, is mankind?”.Answering these 2 questions in your studies will give YOU a Biblical worldview that you can share with your young son.

One last thought…I am listening to a tape that said we should inspire, not require, as we home educate.I think this is especially true at the grammar stage.Inspire your child to learn as you travel through history.

Kerry Beck
From: Donna Vail
Subject: RE: tools not toys
Date: Sun, 6 Mar 2005

Hi Laurie,

I am currently shopping for my soon to be 7 year old daughter’s birthday so I have been looking in all the catalogs. Here are some of the things I have seen and some of the things we have done.Maybe they can be added to the list. Home is a great place to be!

Peace and blessings,

Tea sets
Junior bake sets for girls to make little cakes just the size for her tea set. Or even mini muffin pans, they just love “little” things.
Small musical instruments like xylophone, tom boy, triangle, rhythm sticks, maracas, bells, etc.
Child friendly tape recorder, they can listen to books on tape, make their own book on tape, my children even liked making their own “radio” program and Dad or Mom or older children can read books on tape for younger.
Supplies for knitting or crochet or embroidery.
Lots of stuffing and fabric to make throw pillows.Kids love lots of pillows especially with those fun fabrics.
Fishing poles, nets
Magnifying glass, butterfly net
Sewing cards for the very young, you know the heavy cards with a printed picture and the child laces a yarn through the holes around the picture.
Bamboo poles or like with an old sheet around it to make a tee pee.
Lots of those brown card board boxes.My son makes tons of things out of boxes that come into the house. He turns them into planes, cars, musical instruments, houses, buildings, add-ons to sisters doll house with furniture and if they are big enough they have even build a playhouse. For young girls you can attach a piece of jute or string on the wall across a window at her level and she can use clothes pins and hang up her doll clothes, pretend laundry.
Lots of paper, tape, paper towel and toilet paper rolls, popsicle sticks, glue, etc.Especially lots of tape.
As they get older keep the mindset if it is something that they can use for their life like an art program, supplies to make something whether she’s a baker and she could use a baking stone or new bread pans or a seamstress can always use supplies or more serious carpenter tools for a young man. Invest in their capability to advance themselves.
Stationary sets and special writing tools and stamps if they are letter writers.
Juice harp, my 9yob just bought one for himself and plays it most often. It is also known as an Ozark harp and it isn’t too loud nor does it need batteries.
Musical instruments and lessons can use a lot of the child’s time in a wise and glorious way.
My oldest daughter asked for a swiffer one year for her birthday because she thought it would work better than the dust mop for her duty of cleaning the floors.(We got one, but not for her birthday, we are not that tough.
Contest Time!!!!
This week’s contest is about submarines — most specifically, American submarines. WHEN was history’s first submarine attack and WHERE did it happen? Hint: it wasn’t in the 19th or 20th centuries. Remember, tell me WHEN and WHERE.  The 7th person to email me the correct answer wins a copy of The Fallacy Detective by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn
From: apex
Date: Mon, 7 Mar 2005
Tools not Toys ideas (3-7 yo range):

More ideas:
~flower press w/ packet of seeds to grow for pressing
~wood burning tools (5-7 yos)
~hammer, nails, box of wood, blueprint for birdhouse
~rug hooking materials
~spool knitting
~older camera or disposable camera
~apron, oven mitts, simple recipes in own recipe book to learn with adult (can then copy in recipes as they discover new ones they like and would like to cook up)
~flat, dirt, seeds and grow light etc. for budding green thumb (and a living book like Linnea’s Garden)
~appropriate broken household items to take apart and explore
~stationary box w/ paper supplies, embossing (children love this), stamps, etc

Praying that this blesses–and loving to hear more ideas!

From: Donna Vail
Date: Mon, 7 Mar 2005

I finally finished reading this e-letter today and saw the posting on sewing machines.My daughter was given a Brother sewing machine that my mother-in-law had purchased at a discount store.We were only able to make a few pillows and the thread kept breaking then after a couple of months it died.When you are learning to sew this is awful because as soon as you get going the thread breaks.Wears on the patience.I took it to a sewing machine repair shop and a dear old man with years in the sewing machine business told me about the discount machines. They are purchased in large quantities from foreign companies by companies such as Brother; they paste their name on them and can sell them for dirt cheap at the discount stores.He had several lined up on the tables to be worked on and showed me how he would have to take the whole thing apart to fix it and after you spend about $100 it will work for a short time again then need the same repair because the part just doesn’t last.Here’s what he recommended.It is a Singer that they place in the schools because it is durable, takes a beating, rarely needs repair, easy to use and heavy duty.Singer model 505.I got to test it out and it works great.Shop around though and stay away from the discount stores. Feel free to forward this to your member, who sent the question, I am open to receive emails if she has a question about my email.

Thanks a bunch and happy sewing,
From: Steve and Krysti Emerson
Date: Mon, 7 Mar 2005
Subject: Sewing machines

Hi,I have a small sewing business out of my home and can answer the question about whether to buy a serger or a sewing machine.Sergers are wonderful for knits, for overlocking seams and making a garment look professional, but there are many things that a serger cannot do.A serger cannot topstitch, hem jeans, sew in tight places, quilt, and many other things.A sewing machine can do all of that, plus many machines have a overlock stitch that can be used to sew on knits.If you can only buy one machine – it would need to be a sewing machine.On the other hand you have to realize that a regular sewing machine cannot do exactly what a serger does.It will sew knits, but it cannot trim the fabric at the same time and it doesn’t look quite as nice and is much slower.So they each have their purpose and the optimum situation would be to have both.

If you are on a tight budget, you might try looking into getting a used machine.If I had to choose between getting a used serger and a used sewing machine, or a new sewing machine – I would choose to get both used.You can check on e-bay or online for used machines, as well as your paper.They are usually cheaper through an individual than a store.It might be helpful to go look at a store though and see what features you like.They will let you sew on the machines right in the store. I have a Pfaff and love it.It has a walking foot built right in and it is great!

One thing to remember whenever sewing is the change the needle frequently, and make sure that the needle you are using fits the project.A needle needs tobe changed after every 1-2 projects/garments.There are special needles for working on denim and light weight fabrics.Without the right needle, or a dull one – a machine will often act up and the tension will not be right.Also, be sure to buy good quality needles like Schmetz or Klasse.

Keep sewing!
Krysti Emerson
From: Doug Atkinson
Subject: RE: Tools Not Toys
Date: Mon, 7 Mar 2005

Shelby asked about Tools not Toys, for the 3-7 age range. I would suggest that toy wooden trains may fit the bill. Although they are toys, they also engage the children in having to build the track from a variety of pieces before they engage in the imaginary play. For this reason, I suggest buying lots of track since putting together a simple oval track is much less challenging!

I don’t sell trains, but I’ve purchased quite a few for my own children, and the 3-7 age is prime for these sets.

Also, about hand tools, my friend told me about a visit to an Amish woodworking shop in Lancaster County, PA. In strolled two very young children (ages 5 – 7 he thought) who proceeded to start building with hammers, nails, and saws. Pete remarked about how most of us citified folks would never even allow our children to handle these tools at such a young age! Proper supervision, of course, is a key.

Doug Atkinson
From: Keith Zacek
Date: Mon, 7 Mar 2005

In response to the question of whether or not small garden tools are available, I just received a copy of the Sensational Beginnings catalog.On page 46 there is a small wheelbarrow made by Radio Flyer for $40, sized for ages 2-10, a garden tool set made by Brio, also for $40 that includes a shovel, spade, rake and broom, for ages 4-8 (29 long), and a small garden caddy with tools which is a fabric carry bag with a bulb hole maker, shovel, hand rake, garden fork and watering can for $22.All of these things are metal with wood handles and brightly colored.

Personally, as far as the small hand tools are concerned, I don’t know if getting special ones are necessary, I’ve just let them use the same little hand shovel and rake that I use – just don’t waste your money on the special kid tools that you find at most stores.Even when they do have some metal on them, they fall apart quickly and that is very frustrating – first for the child who wants to do real work, second for mom who just wasted $5 or $10.It’s better to spend a couple of extra dollars the first time and get quality tools that will hold up.

Cheryl in IL
Date: Mon, 7 Mar 2005

For the lady who talked about tension problems with her sewing machine.Try a better kind of thread.I always had trouble with my machine until a woman at the fabric store told be to buy a higher quality thread, I was a little skeptical, however she was correct.Sewing is much more pleasurable now.
From: Scott Paulson
Date: Mon, 7 Mar 2005

Our local True Value store has shovels, hoes and rakes in children’s sizes and a variety of colors. As a father of six (soon to be seven) children, and one who enjoys working with our children in the garden, the tools have been a blessing.We bought each of our older four children either a hoe or a shovel, and last year it was great to look around the garden and see all of us working together.

Thanks for your work with the Trivium newsletter.Also, I had some older, junked electronics (an old electronic typewriter and a mostly unusable floppy drive), and my three older boys (ages 7, 4, and 2) really enjoy taking things apart with some of the tools you mention below, and discovering how they work. I doubt most of the things will go back together, but that’s okay.They are learning.

Scott Paulson
Granite Falls, MN
Date: Tue, 8 Mar 2005
From: Jammie Payne
Subject: Re: sewing machines

Regarding sewing machines and sergers:

I own 2 very old Singers. One is an antique. Both work well, although the antique only does a straight stitch. Several years back, I purchased a Bernina serger. It does not have a computer or anything fancy on it to break. I must say that I use it all the time. It is great on heavy duty fabrics like denim and upholstery material as well as dress weight fabrics. It finishes the edge as you sew saving a lot of time and making your sewing projects neat and tidy.  I later bought a Bernina sewing machine, because I loved their serger so much. It also works well. It has many, many decorative stitches as well as an embroidery attachment. I suggest that you try sewing on several different machines before you buy.   Sometimes your local sewing machine shop will include  free lessons with the purchase of a machine.I know  it helped me a great deal to have the sewing shop  owner go through each and every thing my new sewing  machine did. You also might ask family members. I know friends who have adopted their mother or mother-in-law’s old sewing machine. Hope this helps and happy sewing.

Date: Tue, 8 Mar 2005
From: ginger aguilar
Subject: tools not toys

My favorite source for quality stuff is keepers of the faith. They have weaving looms, doll/teddy bear kits, leather working, wood burning etc. My 7 yo son loves to woodburn — it is recommended for older children [age13]. He’s never been burned, of course I don’t allow him to woodburn when I’m not around. My sons also built tool boxes and have a variety of real handtools. The oldest has a great time with his compass. During Christmas we purchased a set of rhythm instruments and a lap harp. We usually just buy the real thing in place of the toy and the children haven’t had any problems using adult size bowls tools, etc. The toys we do have are wooden/electric train sets, wooden blocks, dolls, and puzzles. At least those are the only toys they ever play with. Oatmeal boxes will forever be my childrens’ greatest joy.
Date: Mon, 7 Mar 2005
From: Jennifer Prutsman
Subject: reply to Ancient History/Grammar Stage


I am currently using Mystery of History Volume 1 with my First Grade daughter. It does cover both secular and Christian history starting from Creation and moves forward to Jesus’ death and resurrection. We have enjoyed supplementing the Christian history covered in MOH by reading from the Children’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos. There are many activities, pre-tests, post-tests and review options throughout the volume. It is up to your own discretion as to which of these you choose to do with your child.

I hope this helps.
Jennifer in New York
Date: Mon, 7 Mar 2005
From: Qt nightingale

I was not schooled in the United States but I am currently living in Florida. I have a three year old child, and of course she is at the age where she should be in pre-k. The problem is that I had not yet received the peace from God to go ahead and put her in, because I am not satisfied with what I have seen so far. The O.B.M. (now I know the proper name for it) is so foreign to me. My husband was schooled the modern American way and he constantly tells me that he wishes he was able to apply and comprehend information and I want to be able to pass that on to my children. I am truly thankful that we stumbled upon this website, because in reinforces the things I believe about education. I will be doing further research, but I have to mention that for the first time, I have found writings which express exactly how I feel and want to say.
Date: Mon, 7 Mar 2005
From: Colby S Brown


We have been ‘sampling’ many different curricula and approaches to teaching ancient history to grammar level children, all that you named and then some, and have found that, for us, no one curriculum has been ‘the magic bullet’ hitting every major time period  people group in-depth to our liking or with exactly the Providential perspective that we would like. But used in combination, over the course of several years, we are managing to give our children (and ourselves) a good, clear picture of the flow of history. As to your Greenleaf question, I’d say if you and your child are interested in those particular events, go back and study them. If not, depending on how many times you’ll study ancient history, you can pick them up next time around. Using all of the books to go with the guides does help a lot, as well as making it more interesting, unless you are just really opposed to one in particular. About MOH, one of our sons did not like it. He (10 yob) enjoys reading ALOT, so the shorter snips of history didn’t satisfy.And having an activity to do every day drove him crazy.Not a ‘hands on’ guy. So we altered it for him and used more of the outside resources. Our 8yob, who loves projects, enjoys it and SOTW.I’ve read the other posts about SOTW and have some of the same reservations about it, but if you read through the Bible regularly, or a Children’s Bible Story book, it is not difficult to weave the secular history into its Biblical context and teach with a Providential perspective. (and omit those things that you feel are unnecessary) Using a time line is also great (I know TTT recommends this) We use the Big Bible Time Line and write in secular events where they fall. We have found, overall, that most curriculums are just guides and that you’re going to have to fill in and take out things as it suits your child/family. We would like to use more primary sources to teach  history but have had a little difficulty making them ‘accessible’ to our younger ones. Maybe someone can help on that?

Cindy Brown
Date: Tue, 8 Mar 2005
From: Matthew Henry

Just wanted to second and third the thanks for The Fallacy Detective. We’ve been following closely the recommendation by the Bluedorn’s and age, however, I began, as a dad, reading The Fallacy Detective and realized how bad my thinking was and how much my mind had been programmed by the media and press to believe logic fallacies and use them in my day to day life. After I read through Fallacy Detective, I wanted to share it with my wife. My 10 year old son began hearing us talk about it, and wanted to know more. I said, wait a minute, he wasn’t 13 yet, he shouldn’t be interested in logic. 🙂 But, bottom line, we are about through Fallacy Detective and he is our logic police now! The best story we have is Appeal to Pity. Our 10 year old likes to make people feel sad that he can’t do things or has so much to do. He’s been yelling Red Herring and Appeal to People so much, that now, when he wants us to feel pity for everything, we just yell Appeal to Pity!!
Date: Tue, 08 Mar 2005
From: Tim and Paula Plew
Subject: sewing

I own a low end model of the Husqvarna/Viking sewing machine.The company is Swedish.I’d never buy a different brand and I have friends that feel the same way about theirs.I’ll be buying these for my daughters.They are solid machines with absolutely perfect control on the stitching, simple/logical design, they come with lots feet and stitching options, and the lower end models are just as solid as the top of the line models . . . I can’t say enough about them.Make the effort to hunt these down, they make other brands look like trash.

From: Cathy
Subject: Re: New Saxon Editions
Date: Tue, 8 Mar 2005

The new edition of Saxon math that replaces Saxon 54, 65 etc, are they as good as the second edition? Is it suitable for home training?  As in everything, it depends! I have a bias towards the earliest Saxon math editions since John Saxon wrote them. The calculus, for example, is still his first edition. He has had great success with his work.The newest editions are consumable and formatted for high sales.They won’t last through several homeschool students.

I believe many people like or prefer the more recent hardbound editions of the original because they contain little notations next to each problem in a problem set–a reference number.The student who has difficulty with that problem can immediately go back to the lesson number and review the concept before reworking his problem.It saves time. However, it eliminates the opportunity for research skills. Often, the concept is in a previous lesson which is only 1-5 lessons back and he can quickly flip through a few pages and find where it was just from memory. Sometimes the lesson is one the child needs to look at over and over–how to spell fourteen or how to write twenty-five is one example which is on a chart he may want to refer to.

The newer softbound editions are now consumable.It includes all the math drill sheets.I photocopy mine as needed for the child, and use a variety of methods for drillwork, so it is not a problem for me. Some people photocopy a year’s worth of math drills all at once and keep them on hand.Some will find this consumable worktext convenient.

These softbound editions have new reworked problems–again.They are a second or third or fourth revision away from John Saxon’s successful approach.

The biggest caveat is thatthe child has the problems written for them. In the hardbound editions, the child is supposed to copy the problem, then work it.For a child who transposes problems, that can be a hard thing to do but it helps him attend to details and to cement his understanding of place value.Now, however, the softbound editions are printed in a consumable workbook page all ready for him to work.

Herein lies the problem: The child doesn’t have to think of how to work the problem.

For example, in the problem:

8 + B = 12, the child has to ask himself some questions:Is this an addition problem? (It appears to be). Is it a subtraction problem? Do I have a total amount and one part and need to find the other part? If so, then the child has to rewrite the problem as: 12 – 8 = B and then work it.He has to think.Many of the problems in Saxon 54 are such problems.As well, the student must diagram a story problem, or write a horizontal addition problem as vertical before he can work it.The pre-printed softbound editions eliminate some of these choices due to page format.

What do others think?
Who Should We Then Read? Authors of Good Books for Children and Young Adults by Jan Bloom

This 250-page reference guide includes biographical material on 140 authors of great books for children and young adults, and it also lists alphabetically several quality series such as Landmark, We Were There, Vision Biographies, Childhood of Famous Americans, etc. Any parent who does much reading aloud to his children will find Who Should We Then Read? necessary for his reference shelf. When our children were young and we were reading to them for long stretches each day, I would often search for other lesser known books by our favorite authors — books not often found in our local library. Who Should We Then Read? has done that work for me. For example, every title by Howard Pyle is listed, and all one needs to do is order them by interlibrary loan. In fact, I’m delighted to find a Pyle book listed which we’ve never read — Twilight Land. What a resource!

Laurie Bluedorn
Date: Tue, 8 Mar 2005
Subject: sewing machines
From: Barry S. Cureton

In response to Vanessa let me confirm that yes indeed Singer and Kenmore, and most likely any American made machines are not worth a major investment. I have sewn professionally, taught smocking and heirloom sewing and I use an Elna.Pfaff and Viking machines are also excellent. Why? The answer lies in the machine parts which are made of metal and notplastic, as in the American made machines.There is simply no comparison between European machines and American machines and this is one case in which buying American is simply the lesser choice all around. Does that mean you can’t sew a decent garment on a Singer? Of course not. But, if you intend to sell your items, do any kind of embroidery or fine sewing, work with real cotton lace or Swiss batistes or any other fine materials, you will find that European machines simply do everything finer and more consistently.They also handle blue jean fabric better- they are tough and can take a lot of use.I have had my Elna for 14 yrs and it has been serviced once.  Now for the tough part. They are expensive- a real investment- mine was $2,000, and that was in 1992. However, I have often seen reconditioned ones at our local store.You might try a specialty heirloom sewing store and ask about used machines.Or you might search the on-line auction sites for one.  One last thought- if you find a nice Singer or Kenmore for $50.00 and all you want to do is repair things and maybe make a few costumes for the upcoming Christmas pageant etc., buy it! Don’t invest in one of these machines simply because they are the best. Think long and hard about how much sewing you actually do, want to do and can afford to do.  Professional sewing simply does not pay.I sew for friends at no charge- the cost of the pattern and material alone is usually more than they would pay should they buy a similar item in the store. I sew for enjoyment and sometimes enter contests, and when all the kids are graduated here at Cureton Academy. I might start teaching again, but I do not ever expect to make money sewing clothes for people. Fabric is simply too expensive to recreate anything other than the most basic of patterns and see any profit on your investment.Sew because you love to create and use your gifts, and should you find a great deal on one of those Rolls Royce sewing machines you’ll love the ride.

Blessings on you as you use your gifts of creativity!
Margaret Cureton
Woodstock, Maryland
From: shannon summers
Subject: Saxon math re: new edition of Saxon
Date: Fri, 11 Mar 2005

Good morning!

I have always read the e-mails on the weekly collections of people’s questions or comments.This week, in particular, I happened upon the e-mail from Johannes Cotton, asking about the new Saxon edition.

I have not experienced Saxon myself.I first chose a math curriculum through Sonlight, called Singapore Math. I did try that, but found it lacking the comprehension that I needed so as to explain any concepts to my children.A friend of mine went on the Internet and found Shiller Math. The gentleman that began this curriculum is a graduate from MIT and a few other well-known universities (very intelligent). I have actually spoken with him on the phone. I had called to ask him about his curriculum and if it was the right time to begin my son in it. I didn’t expect him to actually call me, perhaps instead thinking a representative would. Well, on Super Bowl Sunday last year (2004), he called me!He explained that, I believe, 11 of his colleagues and himself gathered all the math curriculum from every state, and collected data on all the standards expected after completion of every grade level; and also gathered all the curriculum out there that is available for anyone.They took these curricula and analyzed them (this took many years) and found all the pros and cons, and then put all the pros together into this program, which goes K-6. (They are actually working on the next program for 7-12 grades). 1-888-556-MATH
Date: Sun, 13 Mar 2005
Re: Saxon math

I am now teaching at a Christian school (my hs’d kids are grown) and we use the newest Saxon math. I have read criticisms about it at the web site but have not found them to be true so far. The Algebra I course seems to have now incorporated many of the things we had felt were missing before, including more material on functions, easier ways of doing problems than their lengthy explanations. However, they still do over-explain some things in some lessons.

I actually like it better than the first and second editions which we have used while homeschooling.

Just my two cents.
Mary Harrington
Date: Sun, 13 Mar 2005
Subject: Re: Singer machines

I had heard that criticism before too.About 15 years ago (I think that is the time period) Singer began to put plastic parts in their machines rather than steel.I did not care for them, so we sewed using my old $75 White sewing machine with real metal parts. The repairman once told me to buy a new machine, and I asked if it would perform better.He said, Well, no, but it would look better.Not a good enough reason.

Now that Singer uses computer chips, I don’t know if the machines are still made of plastic interiors.

Mary Harrington
From: Johannes Cotton
Date: Sun, 13 Mar 2005

I read of your question about Saxon math on A teacher named Linda Shrock Taylor, who is a columnist for has posted several articles very critical of the new Saxon math books. Saxon has been taken over by another company that is apparently re-vamping the new books, and not with positive results. You can go to that site and click on columnists and then on Linda Shrock Taylor and see the listing of articles about the new Saxon. You can still find the old books on ebay and such if you do a search. Hope this helps.

Kathy Grable
The Story of the Renaissance and Reformation by Christine Miller (A revised and expanded edition of The Story of Old France and The Story of the English by H.A. Guerber and Young Folks’ History of Germany by C.M. Yonge) — This makes the sixth in the series of Guerber reprints by Nothing New Press, and it is just as fascinating as the other Guerber narrative histories. Next to historical fiction and biographies, narrative histories are the method of my choice for studying history. The first narrative history I ever read to my children was A Child’s History of England by Dickens, and the history we learned from that book still sticks in our minds even though that was 15 years ago. What makes the Guerber histories far superior to the newer, more modern narrative histories which are on the market today is its high literary value. Helene Guerber didn’t talk little bitty baby talk to her readers. She was writing to the late nineteenth and early twentieth century reader, and her vocabulary and sentence structure reflect the advanced literary level of those readers. So if you are looking for history books which will delight your children and engage your own interest as you read aloud, then you’ll want to invest in a set of these Guerber histories. Recommended for all ages. Laurie Bluedorn
Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2005
From: Jammie Payne

What is a good (safe) way to introduce sewing to a 4 yr old girl? Are there certain needles better for children to use? Maybe a different needle craft would be better? TIA ~Terese  When my little girl was 4 she wanted to sew like mommy.I just gave her a threaded #8 embroidery needle.She pushed the needle in and out of the fabric scrap until it resembled a wadded up fabric ball.Then I would cut the thread and she would start all over.She didn’t sew often at this age, but enjoyed it when she did.Now at 7, she sews a little more frequently and is able to complete projects.To be safe, I always supervise sewing and we always put sewing supplies away where they belong. (no needles in the chair arms, etc.) Also, after a couple of needle pricks she became quite careful with the needle. (You can also start with a yarn needle and yarn, however, they never think this is really sewing…lol.)

Jammie Payne
100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum: Choosing the Right Curriculum and Approach for Your Child’s Learning Style by Cathy Duffy

We just got back from the 2005 Indiana state homeschool convention — what a vast array of curriculum in their exhibit hall! It was just the place for Moms and Dads to look at what’s new and compare with the old. There is so much new curricula on the market today that for many, especially those new to homeschooling, it can be rather confusing and overwhelming. Cathy Duffy’s newest book 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum has come along at just the right time to help us sort out all our many choices. I love Cathy Duffy’s dedication at the beginning of this book: To the thousands of dedicated homeschoolers who have resisted the impulse to imitate real school and have chosen instead to figure out what is best for each of their children, even if it meant writing their own curriculum. You have made the world of homeschool curriculum far richer than the most well-funded schools in the world. And what Cathy has done in her book is to help us do just that — figure out what is best for each of our children. Under her direction, using pertinent questions and an easy-to-use chart, a homeschooling mom can determine which of the eight approaches to homeschooling would fit her child’s learning style and her own overall goals and priorities for her child’s education. It takes the guesswork and confusion out of homeschooling. The largest portion of the book is taken up with Cathy’s reviews of her 100 Top Picks for homeschooling books and curricula. She gives us thorough descriptions and necessary ordering details, strengths and weaknesses of the curriculum, and her own impressions on how it would work with the different learning styles. One of the best features of this book is an amazing eight page chart putting all the information together so parents can see at a glance and compare and contrast all the details of each Top Pick. I would suggest that if you’re having a hard time wading through all of your curriculum choices, you might consider buying 100 Top Picks. Keep it handy, because you’ll be consulting it often. Laurie Bluedorn
Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2005
From: B L
Subject: Help! My son is a sore loser!

Good Day,

My almost 7yo boy likes to play games, however, if he makes a wrong move, answers wrong, or loses the game, his face is immediately red and the dam breaks with floods of tears. He is an only child, so no siblings to help him with this. I’ve tried lately to play more games with him to work on his attitude but I am at a loss. We’ve talked about winning, losing and having fun playing the game, it’s okay to want to win, but it’s important to be gracious whether you win or lose, etc. etc.- but nothing works.His personality is dramatic and emotional I can’t believe I missed that!human pride at its peak. He bounces back quickly, apologizes and wants to play another game – but I’m at my wit’s end.Is this just common at this age?Any advice? Do I keep playing with him and going on this merry-go-round? Please help!

Thanks in advance, praying for patience and wisdom,
Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2005

From Johannes: The new edition of Saxon math that replaces Saxon 54, 65 etc, are they as good as the second edition? Is it suitable for home training?

I will share our experience and hopefully it is helpful.Last year, my daughter (then 11 years old and in 5th grade) went through Saxon 65 using the 2nd edition.That was our first year with Saxon.This year (6th grade) she is working through Saxon 76 and we are using the newest homeschool edition (2005).I don’t see any difference in the actual lessons.They both have a warm up which includes a math facts practice then it goes into the lesson followed by some practice problems and then the actual problems for the child to perform.

Here are the differences I’ve noticed:

1. The new set is all softcover whereas the old lesson book was hardcover.
2. The new set is more expensive.
3. The new 76 homeschool edition Tests and Worksheets book comes with enough sheets for the entire course.The pages are just torn out and written directly on the sheet.In the old edition, there would just be one copy of a fact sheet and I would have to copy the sheet over and over again.The new book is much more convenient – but also consumable.
4. The new lesson book includes Investigations every 10th lesson.  These are in depth lessons that involve some hands on activities (which I think really helps to learn a new idea).My daughter enjoys doing these – they take quite awhile so would replace 1 or 2 lessons.
5. The new edition has some added color whereas the older editions are just black/white. My daughter does half of the problems for each lesson (either all odd or even).If she gets more than 2 wrong, she has to do all the problems for the following lesson.We are both enjoying the Saxon program. There is a lot of repetition and I appreciate the way they explain the concepts.

I have a degree in engineering but I think the Saxon program explains the concepts more clearly than I ever heard in school. Also, I made up a sheet with squares so that my daughter could keep the numbers in line.It has been a great help to her.

Review of Little Bitty Baby Learns Hebrew
by Johannah Bluedorn

This book is a wonderful tool that introduces children (and their parents) to the world of the Hebrew language.In a simple and gentle way, it introduces the Hebrew Aleph-bais and shows the reader how to draw the Hebrew letters and begin to learn their sounds.

Prof. James D. Regehr, Ph.D.
President, Fountain of Life School of Ministry
717 MacArthur Drive
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada
S6V 5X6
From: Charles Long
Subject: Introducing young girls to sewing and sewing machines
Date: Thu, 17 Mar 2005

One way to introduce small children to sewing is to use plastic canvas with yarn and a large plastic needle. The needle is not sharp and the holes in the canvas are large. When my daughter was 2 we bought her some plastic canvas and needles and just let her play with them. At that age, she wasn’t capable of following a pattern and I spent a lot of time untangling knots. And older child might be able to take on a small project. You can find plastic canvas in small shapes – 2 1/2-inch circles, for example. These can be easier to manipulate than a large sheet.

Now that my daughter is 4 she is making her own quilt block. It’s very slow going. I let her choose her own fabric (bright pink and purple ;-)) and I cut it for her with the rotary cutter. She has pieced together two sides of a basic four-patch and is now working on putting the two units together. I drew a pencil line on the back of the fabric as a guide for her stitches. Her stitches are large and awkward – this quilt block will not qualify as well-made. But she is learning. And she has said she wants to give the finished block to her grandmother, who I know will cherish it.

Regarding sewing machines: What kind of machine to buy depends on what you want to do with it. If you get a newer machine, you really should go ahead and buy an expensive one. I have a Singer school model. It works well, but there are some problems especially with shoddily made accessories. If you need a dependable machine, well-made, etc., buy an older machine. Older machines were made with all metal parts. They are heavy. An on-line friend who buys, refurbishes, and sells old machines said she generally won’t buy anything new enough to be white because it will have plastic parts that break and cannot be replaced. If you want a good basic machine to sew, look for an older machine. If you need computerized stitches or embroidery stitchouts, spend the money for a more expensive new machine. If you’re learning to sew, get a good book on sewing. Many of the older books will have good information on how to do things with a machine that doesn’t do fancy stitches. 40 years ago, sewists did all the things we do today, using machines with only straight stitch or possibly a straight and a zigzag stitch. The books from that period teach how to use more basic machines well.

I hope this helps. I would be happy to receive email about these subjects, though I might be slow in responding.

Sarah Long
Date: Fri, 18 Mar 2005
From: Sietske  Jim Kloeg
Subject: Re: Contest Winner

It is one of history’s ironies; the very navy that would fight the largest submarine battle in history (perhaps the greatest naval battle of history), was the victim of the very first submarine attack. The ‘Turtle’ was conceived as an after thought by David Bushnell to transport the real weapon, the first underwater charge. The attack launched on 6th September 1776 was unsuccessful in damaging the target HMS Eagle. As the pilot Ezra Lee tried to make good his escape he was spotted. To avoid chase he detonated the charge in the water, which provided a sufficient demonstration of the threat the Turtle posed and the fleet weighed anchor and moved out of New York Harbour.
From: Kelly Midkiff
Subject: tools not toys
Date: Fri, 18 Mar 2005

I will just say that our boys have SO enjoyed having their own toolboxes with hammer, nails, etc. I keep a pile of scrap wood available for them in the garage. They are allowed to hammer (aka build) anytime the mood strikes them. Of course they also learn to clean up after them selves. And a second on the broken electronics. That’s a favorite too. We had a tv quit this week and you would have thought is was Christmas when I told them they could have it! hehehe
Here is my review of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2004).

The Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention originally planned to use what has become the Holman Christian Standard Bible as a replacement for the NIV. They originally chose Arthur Farstad (who edited the New King James Version) as general editor. Edwin Blum replaced Farstad after Farstad’s death. The translation team had a large representation of Southern Baptists. The stated concern which motivated the translation was that modern Bible translations were conforming themselves to the culture and to political agendas, whereas culture and agendas should be conforming themselves to the Bible.

1. The textual basis of the HCSB is the Nestle-Aland Greek text. In my opinion, the N-A Greek text does not follow Biblical criteria for evaluating witnesses. From my point of view, this is a measurable defect.

2. The method of translation claims to strike a balance between Formal Equivalence and Dynamic Equivalence, using what it calls Optimal Equivalence. It marks with lower corner brackets many of the words which were added for sense or style. In practical terms, it tries to be less literal and more interpretive than an interlinear, but more literal and less interpretive than the NIV.

3. The English literary style of the HCSB is simplified English, both in structure and choice of vocabulary, though it does retain some theological vocabulary. It uses contractions, omits words and expressions which the editors thought were redundant, and substitutes nouns for pronouns or pronouns for nouns to remove ambiguity. Its English prose style is not proper and dignified, but it is perhaps a little more formal than conversational English. The translation is more gender-neutral than either the NASB or the NIV (but less than the TNIV). (So much for not conforming to culture and to political agendas!)

The HCSB has a large number of footnotes which offer alternate translations or more literal translations of the text. There are also some marginal notes on different manuscript readings.

The HCSB is nicely formatted with paragraphing, poetic lining, bold quotations, italicized foreign words, descriptive headings, inter-marginal cross references, and bullet notes which explain certain words.

My overall impression is that the HCSB is a very readable but not a very quotable translation. I have found some places where, in my opinion, the translation was exceptionally good, and other places where it was not so very good. Overall, I do not think it represents a good literary standard for others — particularly students — to memorize and follow. I do appreciate very much the attempt (within the limits of the translation’s own presuppositions) to mark those words which were added for sense and style, and by supplying an abundance of more literal or alternate translations in the footnotes. But, in my opinion, it falls too far short on textual base, method of translation, and literary style. I wouldn’t make it my main English translation, but it may be worth keeping around for purposes of comparison.
Harvey Bluedorn
Date: Sat, 19 Mar 2005
Subject: Information on SBCHEA

It would be an honor to comply with your request, Mrs. Bluedorn. I have been very blessed by your family’s ministry to homeschoolers and by many of the articles. Our family also enjoyed the Fallacy Detective! The academic excellence of Christian classical home education is wreaking havoc on Southern Baptist churches, which have dumbed down their discipleship materials and evangelistic messages in order to reach the children and solve the problems of the public school system. The needs of the homeschooled students are being totally ignored. However, we definitely have our champions in the leadership of the Southern Baptist seminaries, and some of the SB colleges and universities which provide a Deliberately Christian higher education from a biblical worldview.

The mission statement of SBCHEA is to unite the teaching ministries of the church and home for Kingdom education. We believe that God has called Southern Baptist homeschooling parents to not only prepare the next generation of our country’s leaders, but also the future servant leadershipof the church. We have established a pipeline of communication between our homeschooled students and Deliberately Christian colleges and universities. We will partner with these schools, who so desperately desire to recruit our students, in providing scholarship information and establishing a SBCHEA College-Preparatory course of study in theology, worldview education and the Southern Baptist heritage.

Thank you again, for helping us spread the word.
Soli Deo Gloria!

Mrs. Elizabeth Watkins, Director
Southern Baptist Church Home Education Association
1202 Thoreau Lane
Allen, Texas 75002

1 Comment

  1. Deja Patterson

    naturally like your web site however you need to take a look at the spelling on several of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I find it very bothersome to tell the truth on the other hand I will surely come again again.


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