Here's another vintage British treasure: "Look and Learn" magazine.

Look and Learn is fondly remembered by thousands as the classic children's magazine from the 60s and 70s. It covered a vast range of subjects, from bumble bees to rocket science, from English literature to Greek and Roman legend. But history was its chief concern, and its brilliant illustrators filled its pages with beautiful pictures of the past.

This seems like the sort of thing my boys would enjoy, but unfortunately the reprints are prohibitively expense for U.S. consumers. As a slight consolation, there is a compilation available: The Bumper Book of Look and Learn: The Best of the Classic Children's Magazine. I've ordered a copy, along with the equally boy-friendly The Eagle Annual of the Cutaways, and can't wait to explore further!

More about the Eagle can be found at Eagle-Times and Nigel's Web Space is a great place to see more British children's annuals.

Another new discovery while browsing the web today was the vintage British Ladybird Books. First published during World War I, the company expanded and begin publishing colorful and inexpensive educational books after the second World War. Well-known authors and artists were commissioned to write and illustrate books on nature, geography, history and religion; a complete history can be found here.

While the website indicates that these books were translated into over sixty languages and sold internationally, I can't say that I've ever seen them here in the U.S. (though, granted, they were a bit before my time!). Nonetheless, they are absolutely charming and seem to be enjoying a resurgence in popularity. The Wee Web is an excellent site for exploring Ladybird Books further, as is Boys and Girls: A Ladybird Book of Childhood.

Next, I discovered Ladybird Prints ~ a website containing over 4,000 prints from the Ladybird Books, available to purchase as prints and canvasses. There are prints available in such diverse categories as Adventure, History, Hobbies & Crafts, Religion, Science & Space, The Natural World, and so on. I can easily picture prints from the science books in the twins' bedroom, while the nature prints would be well-suited to our school room.

I also came across a cute line of products from Wild & Wolf that utilize the vintage prints. For example, how cute is this mug?!

The products can be found at Mulberry Hall, as well as other online British retailers.

I seriously need to step *away* from the computer tonight because I keep finding ways to spend money, yikes! My newest discovery was this gorgeous Enid Blyton Nature Lover's Book. A peek inside the book can be found at The Blueberry Patch.

While I'm not personally familiar with Enid Blyton's work, I've heard so much about her, both good and bad. Naturally, out of sheer curiosity, I then also had to order a "Best of Blyton" boxed set (at a great price!). Since we're studying British children's literature this year, I think I can kind of justify this.

While searching for resources to supplement our study of European geography, I found these fun books by Miroslav Sasek, originally published from 1959 - 1974. A complete list of reissued titles can be found here.

I am SO ridiculously excited to have discovered this: Vision, a film about Hildegard von Bingen, by German director Margarethe von Trotta. Since it is still being shown at various international film festivals, it appears I'll have awhile to wait for the release of the DVD (drat!).

A review can be found here; the trailer - in German - here:

I'm *loving* these paintings by artist James Browne. As an added bonus, many of his prints are currently on sale!

I. Study of a single picture.
  • Subject of the picture, and how expressed by the artist.
  • Scene of picture, indoors, outdoors, city, country, season, etc.
  • Time of day (if expressed) and how shown.
  • Principal objects of interest, and how made prominent by artist.
  • Subordinate objects and why introduced.
  • Sentiment of picture—gay, sad, action, repose, etc.
  • Composition:
    (A) Division into large spaces.
    (B) Location and shape of principal objects.
    (C) Distribution of light and dark.
    (D) Coloring of picture if this can be learned.
  • Name, nationally, approximate date of work, tastes and character of artist.
  • Present location of original, and value as a work of art.
II. Study of one artist.
  • Secure portrait of artist and as many of his works as possible.
  • General character of pictures—religious, nature, animal, peasant, portrait, etc.
  • Sentiment expressed—gay, sad, action, repose, etc.
  • Variety of subjects interpreted by artist.
  • Subjects apparently preferred by artists.
  • Strongest points in composition:
    (A) Handling of mass (form).
    (B) Handling of light and dark (chiaroscuro).
    (C) Handling of color.
    (D) Mastery of drawing—simplicity or much detail.
  • Name, nationality, approximate date of best work, tastes and character of artist.
  • Present location of best works, and their value as works of art.
  • Position of artist as a master during life time and at present.
  • Personal choice of favorite picture with reason for choice.
III. Comparative study of pictures or artists.
  • Choose pictures similar in subject by different artists, as*:
    Shepherdess—Millet and Lerolle.
    Peasant life—Millet and Breton.
    Landscape—Corot and Ruysdael.
    Animal—Landseer and Troyon.
    Religion—Raphael and Michael Angelo.
    Portrait—Rembrandt and Van Dyck.
  • Name all points of similarity in material chosen by artists to express the thought.
  • Name all points of difference.
  • Compare sentiment expressed—gay, sad, action, repose, etc.
  • Compare composition as shown by:
    (A) Distribution of masses.
    (B) Distribution of light and dark.
    (C) Location of principal objects.
    (D) Use of subordinate details.
    (E) Coloring of it can be learned.
  • Compare tastes and character of artists.
  • Compare rank of artists as masters.
  • Compare value of pictures as works of art.
  • Personal choice of picture preferred with reason for choice
*Comparing two pictures only is the simplest method. Too many pictures confuse the pupils.

IV. Study of Schools of Art.
  • Choose several of the best works of each artist in a given school, with the portraits of the artists if possible. Arrange each artist's work in a group.
  • By study of all the groups determine the general character of the work of the school, religious, nature, portraits, etc.
  • General points of similarity in the several groups.
  • Two or more characteristics of each artist's work as an individual, dependent upon his personal tastes and character.
  • Compare mastery of drawing.
  • Compare mastery of composition.
  • Compare mastery of light and dark.
  • Compare mastery of color.
  • Name, approximate date and chief value of the work of the school in the advancement of art.
  • Comparative position of artists as masters.
  • Value of pictures as works of art.
  • Present location of one or more originals best representing the school.
  • Personal choice of picture, with reason for choice.
    See Also:

    Overall, this was a surprisingly good week, despite the fact that we fizzled out mid-week when I came down with the flu (isn't it always something?!).

    Here's what we managed to accomplish:

    A few personal highlights:

    I discovered that you can purchase Modeling Beeswax from Etsy and promptly placed an order. Maddie enjoys working with Sculpey while I'm reading (otherwise she'd be quite fidgety!), so I thought she might enjoy trying her hand at beeswax.

    We received some especially noteworthy books this week, including The Castle Corona (which is so beautifully illustrated!), The Adventures of Marco Polo, and Outrageous Women of the Middle Ages. Also, a number of books from Crabtree Publishing's The Medieval World series, which I've been wanting for quite some time. Happily, they did not disappoint! I found a free teacher's guide here.

    After praying for, ahem, wisdom in handling my personal finances, I was startled to receive an order the following day for *four* copies of Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness. Barnes & Noble accidentally sent the books instead of the Winston Churchill text I'd ordered for Dominic. Ah, the irony!

    The absolute highlight of my week was, of course, my Google Books discovery. Since then, I've been searching out [public domain] books that might be useful for our studies this year (so much so that, much to my embarrassment, I was temporarily blocked from Google Books last night!). In doing so, I discovered the delightful Books for Children by Emma Gibbons, a slender volume with helpful book lists for the study of History, Literature, Nature, etc. Many of the titles mentioned will be familiar, but there are some real gems yet to be discovered! After perusing dozens of book lists, I think I've found some really excellent selections.

    I haven't had much time (or energy) this past week to pursue my own education. I did, however, manage to finish The Autobiography of Henry VIII and resume The Book of Margery Kempe (which I find disturbing and yet strangely fascinating).

    This afternoon, while browsing The Well-Trained Mind Forums, I stumbled across a downright *thrilling* discovery. In an old thread, I found a link to this Wired Magazine article about custom-printing public domain books. Now, I'm an avid Google Books user, but *hate* reading books online (as do my kids). I also dislike printing everything out as it results in significant paper/toner usage and just isn't quite as nice as having the actual book in hand. Unfortunately, many of the public domain books that I love are either impossible to find, or prohibitively expensive.

    The Espresso Book Machine will turn a digital copy into a library-quality, perfect bound book in just minutes (how magical is that?!), but unfortunately, only a handful of book stores in the U.S. own the machine. Even more distressing is the lack of a shipping option offered. Finally however, I found this: the Harvard Book Store will print and ship books! And better yet, their search system appears to tie into Google Books directly. This really is, in my mind, completely revolutionary and opens a whole new world of possibilities for homeschoolers!
    After quick deliberation, I ordered copies of the following (at a mere $8/apiece):

    Already I'm making a list of the books that I'll need to order next (a few, in particular, that I forgot to order today!):

    Well we've managed to survive another week, and what a long (but productive) week it's been!

    Monday was a busy day with more back-to-school preparations for the twins. Much to my distress, they decided they'd like to bring bento lunches to school every day. While bentos are fun (and quite a novelty here), they can be very time consuming! Prior to pulling them from public school, we were completely bento-crazy around here. I used to spend *hours* making their lunches and even ordered numerous bento supplies (via a shopping agent) directly from Japan. As a result, we have several large cabinets loaded with bento boxes and bags, plus every kind of accessory. A lot of our stuff has never even been used. Finally, I agreed that they could bring very basic bentos. They started school on Tuesday, full of enthusiasm.

    Meanwhile, here at home, Dominic, Maddie, and I managed to stay quite busy. Here's what we accomplished.


    As for what I've added into the schedule: Maddie read two chapters from Our Island Story and starting next week, she'll also be reading two chapters per week from Britannia: 100 Great Stories from British History by Geraldine McCaughrean. Dominic will be reading a chapter per week from The Birth of Britain: A History of the English Speaking Peoples by Winston Churchill, in addition to the history work we'll continue doing together (loosely following the schedule outlined in TruthQuest History). I spent most of the week trying to align everything neatly so that our TruthQuest work would match up to their independent history work, but finally gave up. I'm fully aware that this is a rather muddled way of doing things, but it will have to suffice for now; my poor brain is just worn out!

    Our curricula additions were inspired by a combination of sources: Ambleside Online, Mater Ambilis, and this mysterious St. Thomas School Curricula that I discovered and have fallen in love with (something about the way each lesson is so nicely plotted out is very appealing!). My Amazon Prime trial membership really and truly came in handy this week also, but as I've discovered, is slightly dangerous. I ordered oodles of books with very little thought and have yet to make sense of them all.

    Maddie's [not-yet-illuminated] illuminated letter


    Geography is a subject that we never managed to squeeze in previously, so I'm happy that we were able to start on it this week. Maddie read from A Book of Discovery by MB Synge (available for free here). Hopefully by next week we'll have Richard Halliburton's Complete Book of Marvels and she'll read one chapter from each book per week. Dominic read portions of Sun Dancing because we're still waiting on The Brendan Voyage to arrive. I'm considering adding in Mapping the World with Art as well.


    We began some pre-reading work for the books they'll be starting next week. Dominic will be reading The Hobbit and completing the Progeny Press Study Guide, and Maddie will be reading The Wind in the Willows. I'm compiling a study unit for her using ideas from this and this. Dominic will also start on The Once and Future King next week, and they'll both be reading a chapter per week from English Literature for Boys and Girls. Maddie may also start The Princess and the Goblin next week. Lastly, we read the Preface to Bullfinch's The Age of Chivalry, another book they'll be reading from weekly.


    Science is yet another subject that we've woefully neglected in the past. The kids read two chapters from The Story Book of Science (available for free here), and again, we're waiting on a book to arrive: For the Beauty of the Earth (which I purchased from the delightful Keller Books). They'll be reading and/or completing activities from For the Beauty of the Earth twice a week as well. On Fridays, we'll be doing a science activity from Nature in a Nutshell. This week it was frost crystals (which even the dog enjoyed!):

    Catechism / Arithmetic / Latin / Grammar

    CLAA memory work continued in these subjects this week and once again, the memory work was a battle. The kids are feeling quite discouraged that they haven't yet passed any exams, but we're making a determined effort to master the material. Currently, they're spending half an hour per day on catechism, half an hour per day on arithmetic (mainly because they already know the material, just not quite well enough), and an hour on grammar. I would imagine that we'll need to increase these times a bit in order to make better progress.

    We skipped Singapore Math this week because it somehow slipped my mind entirely (yikes!).

    Art and Music Appreciation

    For art history this week, the kids read through Lesson 1 - 'Ancient and Early Christian Art' in Art through Faith. While I had a project planned to go with this lesson, the kids ended up making Celtic crosses from clay.

    For music, we read the first chapter (Palestrina) from Famous Composers for Young People and listened to portions of Missa Papae Marcelli.

    (L) Dominic's Cross, (R) Maddie's Cross

    That, in a nutshell, was our week. I must say, I'm impressed with how smoothly school went overall, despite the extra work. Having only two at home is a lot easier than four! Nevertheless, I've already run into a few *issues* with the twins' school that I'm not the least bit pleased about, so we'll see how things go next week. Since state assessments are coming up, the entire focus right now is on teaching for those, which annoys me tremendously. However, I've also been extremely sleep-deprived all week (since I now have to be up early to get kids ready for the bus, ick!), which probably isn't helping my patience any.

    I hardly know how to begin with this week's report as it's been another rough week, yet not for the usual reasons. This week marked the anniversary of our first year of homeschooling and also the last for at least one student. On Wednesday, in a fit of frustration, I made the decision to re-enroll the twins in public school...ending a battle that has been ongoing for many months now. Quite frankly, I'm still in shock and feeling tremendous sadness about the decision, though I realize it's probably for the best. Jaymon may yet end up staying home, but Elon will return to his former school on Tuesday.

    This week, everyone made fair progress on their CLAA memory work, and without too much drama. Dominic and Maddie took their first exam in Classical Arithmetic on Wednesday and scored 85% & 83% respectively. Since 100% is required in order to pass, they're back to studying.

    For history, we continued reading from St. Benedict: Hero of the Hills, and a little from Life in a Medieval Abbey and Bibles and Bestiaries. We were supposed to start studying Irish saints on Monday, but I had to postpone this for a few days to wait on some last-minute resources I'd ordered. In the meantime, we learned more about various aspects of monastery life ~ food, in particular. We read portions from "At the Table of Monks" - a blog series that explores life inside a medieval monastery kitchen:

    For dinner throughout the week we enjoyed recipes from From a Monastery Kitchen. On Wednesday, we had fun learning about the history of pretzels (first made by monks as early as 610 AD to use up leftover scraps of dough, they were formed to represent a child's arms in prayer) and making our own. Ours, unfortunately, didn't look quite right, but they were absolutely delicious!
    On Thursday, we were finally able to begin our study of Irish saints. We watched the St. Patrick segment from "In Search of Ancient Ireland" and read The Life of St. Patrick: Enlightener of the Irish by Zachary Lynch. We also began work on this gorgeous 500 pc puzzle of St. Patrick from Project Kells/Tailten Games:

    I can honestly say that this puzzle is the *hardest* we've ever done! There are many, many pieces that fit together perfectly and look as though they belong together, until you notice just the tiniest speck of another color that doesn't belong. All of the intricate Celtic knotwork and detail is enough to make a person crazy, but for the most part we're enjoying it.
    Friday was a busy day, so we skipped school work entirely. In the morning I finally had an appointment with a plastic surgeon for Botox (which I've been postponing since early last month due to the cost!). Last November, my new neurosurgeon informed me that I would need to try Botox for my migraines before he'd see me again. Essentially, the Botox freezes the muscles compressing the trigeminal nerve which triggers migraines. If it works to relieve my headaches (the plastic surgeon feels confident that it will), then I'll need to have a brow lift done to permanently cut away the offending muscle(s). Naturally none of this is covered by insurance, ugh. I was told that it would take about a week for the Botox to start working, but that many patients report relief immediately. Thus far, I've been blissfully headache-free, which is really amazing since I have headaches, in varying degrees, daily. Let's just hope it continues!
    Friday afternoon was spent trying to get everything together so that the twins (or Elon) are ready for school next week. I'm anticipating a much smoother course now that we'll be relatively free of daily complaints and disruptions (hopefully), so, I'll be adding some additional work back into our schedule. I'll have more on that just as soon as I get it all sorted out.
    For my own self-education this week, I read half of The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George and half of Sun Dancing by Geoffrey Moorhouse; I also read roughly a quarter of both The Book of Margery Kempe and The Age of the Cloister, as well as portions of The Beginnings of Western Science, Medieval Hospitals of England and Medieval Hospitals of Yorkshire. Frankly, it was a bit stressful juggling so many different books, so my goal for next week is to simplify things a little. I got seriously sidetracked this week by my research on Irish saints and medieval hopsitals, which had not been planned. I have not made any progress in my Praeceptor Training, which is hardly setting a good example for the kids!

    As mentioned in my last post, for the past few days I've been researching Irish saints of the early Middle Ages. (Though I attended a Catholic high school, I don't remember *ever* learning about any of the saints and as someone new to the Faith, I'm intrigued by them all!) One saint whom I've especially enjoyed reading about is St. Brendan, well-known for a 6th century voyage in which he may have discovered North America. This article gives a good summary of the legend: St. Brendan: Sailor, Explorer, and Discoverer.

    In 1974, British scholar and adventurer Tim Severin set about to recreate Brendan's voyage across the Atlantic, using a hand-constructed currach (a wooden-frame, animal hide boat), just as Brendan would have. He wrote a book, The Brendan Voyage, about his experience, and much to my delight, there's also a documentary! Parts 1 & 2 can be found below:

    The Brendan Voyage, Part 1/5:

    The Brendan Voyage, Part 2/5:

    I'm not sure what happened to Parts 3-5, but they're not available on YouTube. Fortunately, the documentary can be purchased directly from Mr. Severin (who can be contacted via his website). I've ordered a copy and look forward to watching it; I think the boys, in particular, will enjoy it as well!

    Another option, though a bit different is the YouTube series In the Footsteps of St. Brendan the Navigator (See Also: Climbing Ben Nevis, The Faroes Island & Iceland Expedition).

    Photo by FaithMonsoon

    Over the weekend, I spent my time researching and planning for our study of Irish saints as a part of our larger study on the Church in the Early Middle Ages. I previewed a portion of the video "In Search of Ancient Ireland" (which I'd purchased last year for our St. Patrick's Day unit study) and was thrilled to find that it is perfectly suited to our needs. Part II of the DVD contains segments on the following: St. Patrick, St. Brigid, St. Columba, Monastic Treasures & Culture, Seeking White Martyrdom, St. Columbanus, and Irish Pilgrims.

    Skellig Michael
    The segment "Seeking White Martyrdom" was especially appreciated as just prior to watching the video, my imagination had been captured by Skellig Michael and I'd been avidly researching the island with the hopes of including it in our study. Truly I cannot imagine living in such a place and it humbles me to imagine the determination of the monks who chose to do so! I read every word of The Forgotten Hermitage of Skellig Michael, absolutely enthralled. My interest in Skellig Michael then led me to order a copy of Sun Dancing by Geoffrey Moorhouse, followed soon thereafter by Celtic Spirituality by Oliver Davies and How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill (though I have mixed feelings about Cahill's work).

    In the midst of all this, I also began researching St. Brendan [the Navigator], who was on my list of saints to cover and is also mentioned in the video. In particular, I enjoyed this post about St. Brendan, as well as St. Brendan and the Contemporary Novel. Naturally, I then had to order Brendan: A Novel by Frederick Buechner, and I'm not sure how I could miss The Brendan Voyage by Tim Severin. Goodness, I'm going to be very busy reading, but oh how I'm looking forward to it! Unfortunately, my books won't arrive until later this week, which scarcely allows me any time for preparation before our study (slated for next week, yikes).
    A few additional sites of interest:

    Thanks to a recommendation on another site, I recently discovered the joy that is Folkmanis Puppets ~ the most wonderful, realistic and high-quality puppets. On Monday we received a big order of Folkmanis finger puppets (purchased very reasonably on Amazon): a black bear, beaver, chipmunk, red dragon, bald eagle, red fox, hawk, hedgehog, pet mouse, barn owl, brown bear, spotted owl, ram, skunk, weasel, jack rabbit and porcupine, plus the Sequoia Tree Wildlife Playset (with an additional six *tiny* forest dwelling puppets). Already, they're proving very popular here. :-)