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When Children Love to Learn

A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy for Today
Author(s): 
Elaine Cooper (ed)
Publisher: 
Crossways
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

Who, in the homeschooling or education world has never heard of Charlotte Mason, the late 19th/early 20th century British education philosopher? Her writings, which helped to change the face of schools in England, had been long-neglected until the penning of books like Susan Schaefer Macaulay’s For the Children’s Sake or Karen Andreola’s A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning. Elizabeth Foss, a Catholic mom of (soon-to-be) eight children wrote Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home, which helped bring Catholic homeschoolers into an understanding of this Anglican educator.

When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy for Today helps to bridge the gap between “traditional” schools and home schools trying to apply the CM philosophies to the school day. A collection of essays by “traditional” school educators – those who have implemented the philosophies in “real schools” both private and public – apply just as much to the home school environment. You’ll find how schools have implemented CM’s picture studies, nature journaling and handicrafts into their daily lesson plans. Tweaked a bit, the advice from these veterans can be translated to the homeschool schoolroom.

Mason’s techniques such as narration, living books and the absence of “twaddle” are translated into American classrooms and, again with tweaking, into American homeschools. Proven practices of how to implement the four pillars of education – education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life, a relationship between teacher and student – within a classroom setting are invaluable to the homeschool setting. The focus of a CM classroom – whether a private, public or home school – is the child as an individual made in the image and likeness of God and with the attendant responsibilities to be nurtured and taught accordingly.

The second section of the book – An Applied Philosophy – takes all the CM techniques and develops weekly lesson plans and sample schedules for lower and middle schools. This is by necessity a broad-brush approach to lesson planning, but still has some gems of wisdom.

If you’re interested in CM philosophy and education methods, this book When Children Love to Learn: a Practical Application of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy for Today is a great addition to your resource shelf. For further information about CM from a Catholic viewpoint, check-out Elizabeth Foss’ forum at www.4real.thenetsmith.com/ or her blog Real Learning: Education in the Heart of My Home.

Crossway Books publishes this, as well as many other, Christian-based education books. Some of their books are inappropriate for a Catholic audience, but this one should prove quite useful!

Review Date: 
2-21-06
Reviewed by: 

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

Book cover: 'When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit'
Author(s): 
Judith Kerr
Copyright: 
1971
Publisher: 
Penguin
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
191 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

A well-written and engaging account, based on the author's experiences of a young (non-religious) Jewish girl and her family who escape from Germany in the 1930s and live for a time in Switzerland and then France before finally moving on to England. We see the escalation of Hitler's Germany from somewhat of a distance and the struggles of a displaced family trying to stay out of Hitler's reach (the father was a well-known writer who eventually has a price put on his head by Hitler). A worthwhile read, probably of more interest to girls than boys, and suitable for independent reading for mid grade-school and up.

Review Date: 
1-12-01
Reviewed by: 

Where Valor Lies

Author(s): 
Adele and Cateau De Leeuw
Copyright: 
1959
Publisher: 
Lepanto Press
Binding: 
Sewn Hardcover
Number of pages: 
186 pages
Subject(s): 
Setting: 
Review: 

For young Richard, life as a poor Parisian apprentice seems rather grim compared to the glamour of going on a crusade with good King Louis IX. After he hears the impassioned words of a friar preaching in a town square, Richard abandons his unhappy apprenticeship and enthusiastically joins up with King Louis’ Crusade. Little does he realize what he is getting himself into. But, before he runs away to join up, he “instinctively” enters the great cathedral of Notre Dame to pray about his future and a problem that is weighing him down.

How many young men in today’s modern fiction would go inside a church to pray when they feel pressed down by the burdens of the world and in need of consolation and help? Throughout the book there are several glimmers of Richard’s Catholic faith. There are also moments too when he struggles with his conscience. Stealing would make life so much easier, profitable, and comfortable, especially when they are all starving. But would it really? What if he were caught? What about his conscience? What would saintly King Louis think of him?

In Where Valor Lies, we follow the escapades of young Richard and his comrades on the Seventh Crusade with King Louis IX. King Louis IX sets the example of goodness and kindness to those around him, but life is not easy as they face one after another misfortune, including near starvation, devastating plagues, and the threat and immobilizing fear of a brutal enemy. There are moments of exhilarating victory in battle as well. As Richard matures, the heroism of those around him inspires Richard on to greater sanctity. Surprisingly, it is not just in the moments of victory, but also in the moments of defeat when he learns life’s greatest lessons of truth and goodness.

Where Valor Lies includes a colorful cast of characters including Aimar, a father like figure who watches over him, Pierre a dear and close friend, Friar Bernard, whose example of unfailing help to those in need inspires those around him, and the rascal Vincent, an enigma whose generosity ultimately triumphs over his greed.

Where Valor Lies opens with a whirlwind of activity and does not stop until the last page, keeping the reader’s attention riveted throughout. It is a story of personal growth as much as it is an adventure story of an impetuous young man on a quest for great fortune and glory during the Sixth Crusade. What is a man’s true valor? In the end, Richard finds out it is not great victories in battles, but the moral victory over oneself.

Review Date: 
5-15-2007
Reviewed by: 

Whigs and Tories

An American Revolution Reading List
Author(s): 
Elizabeth Yank
Copyright: 
2000
Publisher: 
Ita Pater Publications
Binding: 
Loose-leaf (binder-ready)
Number of pages: 
42 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

This is an extensive reading list, from a Catholic perspective, on materials relating to or taking place at the same time as the American Revolution. The extensive introduction gives tips and ideas for studying the revolution, choosing books, and how to proceed. The list is broken up into the following categories: Grades K-3 Series, Grades K-3 Individual Titles, Grades 3-6 Series, Grades 3-6, Individual Titles, Grades 5-Up Series, Grades 5-Up Individual Titles, Grades 7-Up Series, Grades 7-Up Individual Titles and Grades 10-Up Individual Titles. Many of the titles include short descriptions and hundreds of books are covered. This resource also includes a Timeline of the American Revolution, books about contemporary figures (such as Blessed Junipero Serra), a list of "Prominent Catholics in the American Revolution" an essay about Catholicism during the American Revolution, and a listing of good Catholic textbooks and Reference books that cover the American Revolution. The Appendix lists companies that sell those books (currently in print) that are recommended in this resource.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
8-8-2000
Reviewed by: 

Who Carved the Mountain? The Story of Mount Rushmore

Author(s): 
Jean L. S Patrick
Illustrator(s): 
Renee Graef
Copyright: 
2005
Publisher: 
Mount Rushmore History Association
Binding: 
Sewn Hardcover
Number of pages: 
32 pages
Subject(s): 
Setting: 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 
Our family was delighted to visit Mount Rushmore recently, along with several other Love2Learn families. Since we live in South Dakota, Mount Rushmore books have prominent and permanent diplays in our library system's many branches. Who Carved the Mountain saw the inside of our weekly library bag many times and became our favorite Mount Rushmore picture book. When I saw the warm, familiar cover at the Mount Rushmore gift shop's window, I could not resist it: I went inside resolutely and by the time I came out, our family was the proud owner of a copy of this beautifully illustrated volume!

Who Carved the Mountain features the many people associated with Mount Rushmore in attractive, friendly and educational double-spread pages. There are twelve of these, depicting Doane Robinson who first thought of the project, artist Borglum, the four presidents, the project's workers and more. Pictured in warm colors and rich in detail, they are also described in verse and on an interesting-tidbits-full sidebar. The text on each page is just enough, providing both brief enough descriptions and meaty enough content. The verses are told in a first person perspective:

The Pointer

I am the pointer
I make the marks on the mountain First, I work in Borglum’s studio
I measured the models of our presidents
And I multiplied each number by twelve.I loved the math, the complicated math.
The mouths would be eighteen feet wide!Next I climbed Mount Rushmore.
With a pointing machine and a paintbrush
I marked measurements on the rock.The workers knew exactly where to drill
Because I made the marks on the mountain.Who drilled the holes in the mountain?

Each set of verses lead up to next person to be described: the stone carver, the "power man", the presidents, Borglum and his son--they are all there. The sidebars offer a biographical sketch and curious and interesting facts about each one.

Illustrator Renee Graef, known to Catholic homeschoolers as the Laura Ingalls' picture books illustrator who captured so well the original Garth Williams pictures, and from Melissa Wiley's books' covers, did a fabulous job bringing the feeling of the Black Hills to her illustrations, as well as the historical and complex technical details of the carving. Her portraits of the four presidents sitting by their desks are also warm, rich and just lovely to enjoy.

Review Date: 
1-30-2008
Reviewed by: 

Who Eats What? Food Chains and Food Webs

Book cover: 'Who Eats What? Food Chains and Food Webs'
Author(s): 
Patricia Lauber
Copyright: 
1995
Publisher: 
Harper Collins
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
32 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

This book explores the notion of various plants and animals that are linked together based on "who eats what." Children will learn about some simple food chains such as - leaf, caterpillar, wren and hawk. They also see how one plant or animal can belong to several food chains and that members or these related food chains (food webs) have a certain amount of dependence on each other. The text goes on to explain, through an example of a problem with over-hunted otters around the turn of the century, that when part of a food chain is disturbed, the other members will also be affected. There are some mild "environmental" messages in this text which our family used as an opportunity to discuss good stewardship of what God has given us.

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

Who Loves Me? / Quis me amat?

Book cover: 'Who Loves Me?/Quis me amat?: An I Am Reading Latin Book'
Author(s): 
Marie Carducci Bolchazy
Copyright: 
2003
Publisher: 
Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers
Series: 
I Am Reading Latin
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
60 pages
Subject(s): 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

This book introduces names of family members - mother, father, sister, brother, grandfather, grandmother, fraternal and paternal aunt and uncle, cousins and God - through the eyes of a baby. I liked how small details on some of the pictures - like the words on a T-shirt - are written in Latin (and the translations are included in the back along with the rest of the text). The text is charming, but these pictures are a bit on the "goofy" side (very cartoon like and some weird proportions). For me, the pictures detracted somewhat from the text (although I admit to being a person who is rather fussy about illustrations - particularly in children's books). Also, there is a slight editing problem on pages 13-14 where the illustrations of the paternal and fraternal aunts are mixed up.

Additional notes: 

Donated for review by Bolchazy-Carducci

Review Date: 
8-2-04
Reviewed by: 

Who's My Baby? Memory Matching

Publisher: 
Carson-Dellosa Publishing
Binding: 
Other
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

Memory has always been a favorite game in our family; partly because it's easy for even the young non-readers in the family and also because there are so many fun variations on the game.

Now we have a new favorite Memory game for the very youngest members of the family. The game involves matching photos of mother animals with their babies.. The cards are super heavy-duty (of a similar thickness to the original Memory games but more like the size of playing cards) with lovely photographs of each animal.

There are 18 sets of animals and the suggested game method is to separate the Mom and Baby cards into two separate areas in order to make the game simpler for beginners. The game comes with a paper mat to help organize these, but that mat got shredded very quickly in our house. It really doesn't matter though, since simply dividing them into two different sections works just fine.

Available from your local educational store or from the publisher.

Review Date: 
1-31-07
Reviewed by: 

Why Be Catholic?

Author(s): 
Dr. Ray Guarendi
Copyright: 
2006
Publisher: 
Nineveh's Crossing
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

Many people are familiar with Dr. Ray Guarendi - psychologist, father of 10 and expert on family discipline. You may not know that he has a number of apologetics materials available as well.

Dr. Ray, a revert to the Catholic Church after 10 years in Protestantism, explains, in an engaging and often humorous way, the big things that brought him back. There is a particular emphasis on the need for a religious "system" to be logically and morally consistent. He touches on the Early Church, the Eucharist, Contraception, the problem with personal interpretations of Scripture and much more.

This talk was filmed at a men's conference and might be particularly nice for busy homeschool dads who often don't have time to keep up with the spiritual reading and study that goes on at home during the day. Our entire family enjoyed this talk and I'm sure we'll return to it many times.

Watch a sample portion here
Also, there's a study guide available online.

The DVD also includes his classic talk (half-hour in length) "Catholic Dads Aren't Wimps" - an insightful look at the importance of discipline within the family and some very practical tips for making this happen. This is an abbreviated version of his 95 minute "comedy stand-up routine on parenting" titled "You're a Better Parent Than You think" (also produced by Nineveh's Crossing).

Additional notes: 

90 minute DVD plus 2 audio CDs

Two audio CDs are included in this package - one for each of the talks (great for taking in the car).

Review Date: 
5-1-2007
Reviewed by: 

Why Do Leaves Change Color?

Book cover: 'Why Do Leaves Change Color?'
Author(s): 
Betsy Maestro
Copyright: 
1994
Publisher: 
Harper Collins
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
32 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

Our family has really enjoyed this book which explains why leave fall off the trees before winter, where the different colors come from, how weather affects the brilliancy of the colors and lots more. It's written in a very simple manner, so that it's quite understandable even for preschoolers or kindergarteners, and yet it contains substantial information so that even moms (like me) realize that they don't know everything : ) You'll also find labeled pictures of the leaves from different kinds of trees, a cross section of a leaf, an explanation of how trees make food, and how to make leaf rubbings and preserve leaves by ironing them between sheets of waxed paper.

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

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