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    August 8, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    The new schoolyear begins in a week and a half. Needless to say, I will be becoming more scarce as the Big Day approaches. And then I may disappear altogether. Just kidding. But seriously, I have no idea how frequent my posts may be, especially as we are getting “school” off the ground.

    School Begins in Earnest
    Last night, I made some purchases. I bought Cuisenaire Rods and the Primary Idea Book from Timberdoodle. Since Teaching the Trivium convinced us that delaying formal math might not only be not a bad thing, but also a very good thing, we thought we’d give math manipulatives a try, focusing this year on being able to visualize mathmatical concepts. I am not good at thinking these sorts of things up on my own, so the 80+ math activities with Cuisenaires will be a good starting point for us.

    I also bought that orchestra book I mentioned before. We should know what an orchestra is, as well as be able to identify all the major instruments, by December.

    And speaking of identification, we are focusing our science this year on, among other things, birdwatching. Ah, the great outdoors. Charlotte Mason inspired us to plan natural science learning that involves the knowledge of real things. Our son has taken to birds. Though we know the names of many of the birds in our neighborhood, and though there are a number of websites that we can utilize for free if we need help, we decided the best thing was to go ahead and buy a guide. We chose the Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America. We hear there are around 400 different types of birds in the area where we are going in the fall, and now we are armed with the perfect reference for the task. We will keep a list of all the birds we see on our trip and post them here when we get home.

    Book Wishlist
    My other activity last night was to finalize our book wishlist. On our trip, there will be many used book stores to choose from, and I know that if I don’t carry a list with me, I will miss out on something. We compiled a huge list of biographies and literature that we are hoping to use for school read-alouds the next couple of years.

    Of course, I couldn’t compile the school list without compiling my own list. If I were to go buy five books right this moment, these are the books I would buy:

    The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry

    The Geography of Nowhere by James Howard Kunstler

    Henry and the Great Society by H.L. Roush

    Poetic Knowledge by James S. Taylor


    The Devil Knows Latin by E. Christian Kopf

    C’mon. Leave a Comment
    Now for my big question. If you could buy one {or two or three} book{s} right now, what would it be?

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  • Reply Brandy August 10, 2007 at 3:02 am

    Nice list! But be careful. If you become too much of an expert on California History, Si and I will make you teach E.’s California History Unit in a few years!

    By the way, we have a similar library dream. However, I always debated about the floor-to-ceiling window. I might not have enough space for all the books!

  • Reply MountainPowerLineman August 10, 2007 at 2:15 am

    I just acquired Stardust, by Neil Gaiman (now a major motion picture). My current list includes the following:

    1491:New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, by Charles C. Mann

    Durham’s Place Names of California’s Central Coast (research material for my current writing project) by David L. Durham

    California: A History, by Kevin Starr

    Quicksilver (Part I, The Baroque Cycle) by Neal Stephenson [I found the last two books of the cycle in hardback, on a discount table at B&N Booksellers for $1]

    The Wheel of Darkness, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (this doesn’t come out in hardback until the end of the month, but I can hardly wait to read it. I am sooooo addicted to reading the novels with Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast)

    Honestly, there are too many books to list here. I could easily want for thousands of books.

    Did I ever mention my dream to have a personal library like you see in movies? You know, the kind that has two stories, a spiral staircase, at least one fireplace, several cozy, leather wingback chairs, those rolling ladders, and a floor to ceiling window with leaded glass panes.

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