Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Modern American and World History

One of our newest programs in our Modern American and World History for grades 5-8. This literature-rich study picks up where our Early American History for Intermediate grades leaves off and has been very popular from it's introduction. Karyn from Teach Beside Me has been using it with her 6th grader and recently reviewed it here. A couple of highlights from her review hit right at the heart of what we want to accomplish with our literature approach to history programs. Here's a couple excerpts:

"I have been using the Modern American and World History curriculum with my 6th grade son. He is so happy with it and has really been thriving with this literature set. He is loving each and every book...He often forgets that he is supposed to only read certain chapters each day and reads beyond the assigned amount...His thoughts on the program are that it is simple and to the point. It makes history come to life and is making him think about how much the decisions we make matter in everyday life...He thinks it is the best way to learn history that we have ever done! He loves how the books are all related to each other, but each one has its own style and direction with new things to understand."

"In my discussions with a few other homeschool parents who have used Beautiful Feet Books, I have heard a few people talk about getting the books alone and not needing the literature guides. I have to say that I disagree completely. I was trying to do that in the past,  but never felt like there was enough structure and consistency to it. The Literature guides help with book order and guide you through it in such a wonderful way!   They are an amazing addition to this literature-rich curriculum."

Thank you Karyn for your kind words. Please read the complete review and check out Teach Beside Me for other great reviews and homeschool resources. 

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Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Ancient History Update from Melissa

Melissa at Reflections from Drywood Creek is updating us on her daughter's journey through our Ancient History, A Literature Approach. Check out her beautiful notebooking pages! Here's Melissa:

Riley is just finishing up week eight of her Beautiful Feet Intermediate Ancient History study and is loving it. So far, she has been reading from the Book of Genesis, Streams of Civilization, Tales of Ancient Egypt, The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, and Pyramid. She's enjoying the books, as well as the activities.

Riley's completing two lessons per week. The lessons are a bit long so we've split each lesson into two days, giving her a total of four days per week for history. I am including photos of Riley's notebooking pages below in order to give you an idea of the types of assignments included in the guide. Aside from reading, there are bible verses to copy, essay questions, map work, illustrations to draw, and topics to research.

Continue reading about Riley's experience and see more pictures here

Thank you Melissa and Riley for sharing! We look forward to seeing more. If you have questions about teaching history through literature or want to learn more about our study guides, check out our website or give us a call at 800.889.1978.

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Thursday, November 03, 2016

Aspirational Greatness

by Rebecca Berg Manor

There are few feelings like those experienced at the beginning of a great musical performance. Sitting in a grand opera hall, the velvet chairs clicking as well-dressed people take their seats. The gorgeous discordance of the orchestra tuning up. The hush that comes over the crowd as the curtain lifts. Anticipation. And then, the first notes of a great composition break through the hush and you are transported to another place. This is exposure to greatness. It inspires. It motivates. It allows you to experience beauty.

Seeing great art provides the same experience. I remember standing in front of Rembrandt's masterpiece Return of the Prodigal at the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg and being so moved I had tears running down my face. Not one for public displays of emotion, I was surprised at my response but knew that being able to see such greatness in person was one of those moments that would impact me for the rest of my life.

Witnessing greatness plants seeds of humility in our hearts. When we sit and watch an orchestra play a classic masterpiece we are struck not only by the talents of the composer, it is the painstakingly cultivated skills of the performing musicians that bring the piece to life. We are reminded that achieving such a proficiency in any area requires discipline, years of training and practice, and inspiring amounts of hard work. In an era that measures success in material terms, one can lose sight of what is truly great. While magazines give awards in categories of beauty, financial success, and fame, the arts and history provide a counterpoint to these surface-y accolades. And history provides an antidote to the entitlement that is so pervasive in our culture of instant gratification and 2-day shipping. As a culture we have settled for measuring greatness by shoddy standards and our history suffers for it. When textbooks either portray a historical figure as nothing more than an accomplishment (Columbus and his voyage to the "New World" or George Washington becoming the first president of the United States) we cheat ourselves and our children of the inspiring aspects of their stories. In the instance of Columbus, we fail to see the years he devoted to pursuing his dream. We fail to see George Washington as a man who did not want to be president and governed with humility and sought advise from those he respected. On the other hand, when history is reduced to hero-worship we forget Columbus' greed and the brutality his men showed to the native people they encountered. We forget or whitewash George Washington's punting on the issue of slavery. Full-colored history provides aspirational portraits of greatness along with warnings we would be wise to heed. The great stories of the past allow us to dive into them, to mull over their many-faceted details, to provide a model of growth. Great art inspires, gives us a glimpse of what is possible should we devote ourselves to hard work and discipline. Its countercultural today to admire the greatness that results from hard work and discipline, but it may be one of the antidotes to the entitlement and celebrity-seeking narcissism that seems to be increasing at an alarming pace.

I would love to hear about your encounters with greatness. Has a piece of music, a performance, a painting, an encounter with a personal hero provided you with a model by which you've grown and matured? Share in the comments!  

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Our Favorite Books for Thanksgiving!

by Rebecca Berg Manor

Where I live in south Florida the change of season is marked by subtle changes and there is no anticipation of "winter" but the shorter days signal the coming of snowbirds, more traffic, slightly cooler temps, and the holidays! I have just noticed that it's getting darker earlier and it makes me think, "Christmas!!" But before the holiday arrives with it's sweet anticipation, we have Thanksgiving to look forward to. Time to visit the library and check out some of these wonderful titles or purchase them to add to the family library. Here are some of my favorites.
Giving Thanks edited by Katherine Paterson
This is an essential title to add to your family library. Not only are the cut-out illustrations brilliant, the collected poems, prayers, and songs are applicable all year long. Perfect for opening your Thanksgiving meal, this beautiful book would be great to pull out each day in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving to nurture a grateful spirit, encourage gratitude in your children, and prepare hearts for the holiday season ahead. It's perfect for Poetry Tea Time, morning breakfast readings, post-dinner reflections, and just staring at the intricate artwork. 

Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Nostalgic, celebratory, and festive, this is a great book for creating excitement around the traditions of Thanksgiving. 

Feast For 10 by Kathryn Fallwell
While not technically a Thanksgiving book, this lovely story captures the excitement and labor that goes into creating a feast for family and friends. It's lovely illustrations communicate family affection, excitement and joy.

The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh
The Thanksgiving Story "is the only really distinguished book we have on that holiday. Miss Dalgliesh has told the Pilgrim story simply from the point of view of the Hopkins family whose little Oceanus was born on the Mayflower; and Miss Sewell has made wonderful full-color pictures. A beautiful book." -The Horn Book

The Pilgrims of Plimoth by Marcia Sewall
When the pilgrims set out for America, they brought with them a dream for the future. Sickness, hardship, and heartache stood in the way of that dream. But the pilgrims worked hard, keeping their dream close to their hearts, until they were finally able to make it come true. Marcia Sewell's text draws on journal entries from the Pilgrims and recreates their lives in striking detail. Beautiful illustrations accompany the text.

The Landing of the Pilgrims by James Daugherty
In England in the early 1600s, everyone was forced to join the Church of England. Young William Bradford and his friends believed they had a right to belong to whichever church they wanted. In the name of religious freedom, they fled to Holland, then sailed to America to start a new life. But the winter was harsh, and before a year passed, half the settlers had died. Yet through hard work and strong faith, a tough group of Pilgrims did survive. Their belief in freedom of religion became an American ideal that still lives on today. Based mainly on William Bradford's personal diary, this is a must-read for all who are interested in knowing more about the Pilgrims.

Pilgrim Stories by Margaret Pumphrey
This 1910 publication has been edited and expanded to include a horizontal history of the world of the Pilgrims of the early 17th century. This replaces the formerly titled Stories of the Pilgrims used in our Early American History Primary Study Guide. Now children will learn not only the faithful saga of the Separatist's struggle for religious freedom, but also that young Rembrandt was just learning to walk when the Pilgrims arrived in Leiden, that Galileo was fighting his own battle for religious and scientific freedom, and that William Brewster served as clerk to Queen Elizabeth's secretary until the ill-fated execution of Elizabeth's half sister, Mary. Historical figures from around the world will see the Pilgrim's heroic struggle in a more meaningful context. With whimsical illustrations by Christen Blechschmid, children and parents alike will see the world as the Pilgrims saw and lived it.

Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla
An ideal introduction to this important segment of the Pilgrim story, This account is among the best we've seen it tells the amazing story of Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe, who went to London with some of the first English explorers, was sold into slavery in Spain, and finally returned to America where he befriended the Pilgrims when they landed.

Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness
A beautifully illustrated book which relates the personal story of the Allerton family from the perspective of young Bartholomew, Mary and Remember. These elaborate watercolors with detailed maps, time lines and tender depictions of Pilgrim life will be a treasured addition to your family library.

William Bradford, Pilgrim Boy by Bradford Smith
This book will tell you all about the brave man who led the Pilgrims in their quest for the freedom to worship God in the matter they saw fit to. Orphaned at a young age, William Bradford was formed by forces which were providentially preparing him for the great call upon his life. Follow his life from his boyhood in Scrooby, England through the years when he led the Pilgrims as the first governor of Plimoth Plantation.

As you get closer to the big day, it may be fun to do some research on the lives of the Pilgrims and Native children who lived in and around the Pilgrim village. To do so, check out Pilmoth Plantation's website. There is a whole section of activities for kids including gamesrecipes, a chance to investigate the first Thanksgiving, and much more.

While the setting aside of a day for thanksgiving had been a tradition in many states, particularly in New England, it was Lincoln who declared that it be made into a national holiday. Here is is proclamation:

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln

You'll notice that this was established in 1863, the same year that President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The country was bitterly divided by a civil war and of all the times to give thanks, this probably wouldn't be the most apparent. Yet, it is telling that in a time of national suffering and trial, there was a recognition that gratitude was still in order. What a fitting reminder for our nation now coming on the tails of a divisive electoral season. 

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Raising Creative Kids

by Rebecca Berg Manor

Homeschooling today looks so different from when I was growing up in the 1980s. In the early days of the movement when I was young, there was a lot of fear of failure and fear of state interventions. It was new territory and so most home educators duplicated a classroom environment and schedule at home. There was an emphasis on academic performance and producing good test results because this movement needed to prove itself. Now I see this generation of home schooling parents enjoying the freedom allowed by being part of a movement that has reached maturity, proven itself, and been found to be a legitimate option for many people. This generation of homeschooling parents, many of them second generation home schoolers, have embraced a more free and open education for their children. Movements like "Wild and Free" and an emphasis on character over curriculum, embrace the individuality of each child and allow education to be driven by curiosity, interest, and exploration of nature. So, when the above video popped up in my Facebook feed, I thought I'd share it here because it reinforces the importance of many of the things you all are already doing!

Between the growing popularity of poetry tea time, nature exploration clubs, creativity based education, and an emphasis on character, you're encouraging the free-thinking that is fertile ground for non-conformist thinking and problem solving. Bravo!

I loved the part about addressing life questions through book characters. When your child's education is chocked full of great literature, you are giving them rich fodder for creative thinking. So, toss out those boring textbooks, and reach for stories. We're here to help you do just that! And continue on in the good work you're doing! We're approaching the mid-semester mark and the new shine is wearing off, but be encouraged by this, you are investing in lives in ways that truly matter.

We Would love to hear what you think! Chime in below in the comment section and share your thoughts. Don't forget to check out our Facebook and Pinterest pages. To learn more about Beautiful Feet Books, click here
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Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Again...and again...and again. The value of repetition.

by Rebecca Berg Manor

I'm in the middle of the endless rereading of favorite books with my two-year-old. Last night my husband read Lost and Found three times, after which our son brought the book to me for a fourth reading. Every parent knows this ritual of childhood. It's equal parts endearing and mind-numbingly boring. It's a rare book that can weather the storm of toddler-demanded repetitive readings without becoming somewhat annoying to the person tasked with the reading. Each Peach, Pear, Plum  is one that I still enjoy reading despite months of repetition.

As we have all been through this with our children, it comes as no surprise that one of the questions parents often ask us, is why do you repeat some of the books in your early American history programs? And should I follow the Early American History for Primary Grades with the Early American History for Intermediate Grades. Our answers are mostly, yes and yes!

Between the Primary-level and Intermediate-level Early American History studies three books are the same, d'Aulaire biographies on Columbus, Pocahontas, and Benjamin Franklin. These books are the best biographies we are aware of on these figures and as students progress from the primary level to the intermediate, they will be able to read these books on their own, adding a new experience to familiar material. We find that this is encouraging to students as well as empowering.

In terms of repeating the time period studied in both programs, it's important to remember that not only are students learning history at this level, they're learning how to study history. They're also learning what history is: the stories of people like them! The ability to immerse oneself in a time period grows with repetition. Just as children request to hear the same stories over and over, taking the time to repeat the study of our nation's history gives them the ability build a strong foundation for understanding not just that time period, but how history works, how our world is affected by ideas and action, and how that relates to our lives. Kim John Payne, in his book Simplicity Parenting,  observes that "Repetition is a vital part of relationship building for children. By repeating experiences and scenarios in play, as well as in storytelling and reading, kids are able to incorporate what they learn. Repetition deepens the experience and relationship for a child; it helps them claim it as their own...The consistency and security of such repetition is very soothing for young children."

We've found this to be true. As a student becomes comfortable in a time period, she begins to explore more, to ask more questions, to follow rabbit trails. This is especially important in the younger years. So don't be nervous about repeating a time period (or books!) in those first years. It's comfortable for the child and will help them gain a strong foundation from which to branch out and study other eras, cultures, geographies, and more.

We would love to hear what you think! Chime in below in the comment section and share your thoughts. Don't forget to check out our Facebook and Pinterest pages. To learn more about Beautiful Feet Books, click here
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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

#backtoschoolwithBFB Winners!

So, we're a day late in announcing our photo contest winner because we simply could not choose only one from the amazing photos you all sent us! We absolutely loved seeing your beautiful families, your lesson plans, peeks into your student's notebooks, glimpses at how wonderful books are impacting your family. It was a joy to get each entry. And even though we said there would be only one winner, we decided to award two more prizes! So, here they are.

3rd Place 
$25.00 gift certificate to BFB

In 3rd place, we loved this table scene, chock full of works in progress, beauty being created, and learning happening. Congratulations Jenlovesaqua!
And the messy homeschool table has returned ❤️. We dove right into American history today learning about Jamestown, Capt John Smith and Pocahontas (the non Disney story) and about the difficulties the colonists faced along with the moral issues claiming land that indians already lived on. And they loved it! Also my boys take advantage of any excuse to draw sailing ships ⚓️

2nd Place
$50.00 gift certificate to BFB

I think we all fell a little bit in love with this scene. The orange, the globe, the knitting. And then we read the caption and realized these sweet boys were returning to last years study because they remembered they enjoyed it. Hooray for raising life-time learners! Congratulations farmhouse_schoolhouse!
They finished their @beautifulfeetbooks science study this morning and I told them they could have free time. I walk into their room a few minutes later and find them with one of last year's @beautifulfeetbooks. "What are you guys doing?" They smiled at me, "Just remembering our adventure with Columbus and doing more research and imagining, it's our free time right? You said we could do whatever." They are always reminding me that learning should be delightful and fun. So for those asking recently how we loved the Early American History study? I think this quick capture says it all! They loved it so much, they go back for visits with their old friends. πŸ˜‚πŸ’•πŸŒŽπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

1st Place
$100.00 gift certificate to BFB

Not only to we appreciate that eight subjects have chosen a favorite title from one of our many history through literature studies, we also appreciate the logistical effort that must have gone into creating this endearing picture. And then we realized even the animals in this family read, and knew this was the entry. Check out those goats reading Augustus Caesar's World. Congratulation meteorsandmeadowlarks!
The goats know that September brings falling leaves, crisp apples, and great literature. Everyone has a favorite book from Beautiful Feet Books

Thank you to everyone who entered! We will do this again. And keep adding those pictures of your family using BFB. Just use #beautifulfeetbooks or @beautifulfeetbooks so we can find them.

Winners, give us a call at 800.889.1978 to claim your prize!
We would love to hear what you think! Chime in below in the comment section and share your thoughts. Don't forget to check out our Facebook and Pinterest pages. To learn more about Beautiful Feet Books, click here
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