2018-2019 · Books · Charlotte Mason

2018-2019 School Year, Term 2 – Books and Plans

Term 2 has arrived, and after some weeks of introspection regarding Term 1 and seeing where we were struggling, I decided to change things up significantly.

After seeing how many books I was substituting and looking ahead to the upcoming years; I realized I would be changing a lot of AmblesideOnline in order to fit our family. I would feel disingenuous if I said: “we use AmblesideOnline but I basically changed everything in it.” So, until further notice; we are not using AO. The last thing I want to do is misrepresent AO. It is a well-done curriculum and so much work has been poured into it. It just wasn’t working out for us.

I figure it makes more sense to say I’m writing my own curriculum and pulling books from sources including AmblesideOnline, A Delectable Education, Wildwood Curriculum, and others.

The biggest thing I’ve done is inject more STEM into things. Each kid has something to do with technology in their studies this term (and will continue on term-by-term). Year 1 will be learning about electricity (term 2) and motors (term 3). Year 3 will be learning to type, Year 5 will solidify typing and move into basic information about computers, the Internet, networking, etc.

I am in the (long) process of writing a Charlotte Mason technology course. My goal is that I can have an entire tech/computer science-esque course for grades 1-12 that builds on itself and gets into progressively more complicated ideas. I 10000000% believe any subject can be taught with CM’s principles, so this is no exception.

(This approach will probably make more sense once I get my “Technology in the CM Homeschool” posts written.)

(My husband says I’ve found my niche – combining STEM and Charlotte Mason because they don’t have to be mutually exclusive.)

The next big thing was to move everyone into a history rotation ala A Delectable Education. So, everyone is in the same era, but the level of detail is different between grades. I spent some time digging around in Volume 6 to see how Charlotte handled history and found ADE to be quite close to what’s written in Volume 6. I asked my husband (who is picky about history) what he thought about ADE’s rotation, and he was very enthusiastic about it. Getting everyone into the same era wasn’t easy and took some massaging for Year 3 and 5, but I’m not stressing because it will come back around again.

I added more science into our Family Time basket. My Y3 wants to blow up stuff so chemistry seemed like a good idea. My Y5 requested we do astronomy. Typically I don’t give in to every kid’s whim and fancy, but both chemistry and astronomy have been asked about a lot around here (my Y5 has asked about astronomy for the last year), and I couldn’t find a compelling reason not to include them.

For the subjects for each year, I used the ADE scheduling cards to see what subjects, how often, and how long; and put books in for each slot that fit our family. To get the books I basically scoured the internet and used book ideas from AO, Wildwood Curriculum, the Simply Charlotte Mason bookfinder, Facebook groups, Instagram, and more.

My Y5 is getting ancient history added – she selected Ancient Egypt. Nothing really changed too much for my Y3, except I’m adding All About Spelling because he needs focused spelling instruction. And my little Y1 basically stayed the same, except for adding in the technology component.


Family Time

For Family Time, I added more books to our lineup. The original spine for Montana history was too much for us, so I removed it. Rather than have one book as a spine, I decided to have multiple books to read from in order to give us the perspective I was looking for with regards to Montana history.

Our Family Time books for Term 2 are:

Montana History:

Drawing:

Technology:

Science:

Singing:

  • Frontier/cowboy songs (not Roy Rogers songs, but songs cowboys would sing on the range)

Foreign Language:

Artist Study:

  • Monte Dolack

Composer Study:

  • Philip Aaberg

(Both Dolack and Aaberg are Montanans, which ties nicely into our Montana history studies this year.)

Read Aloud:

Shakespeare:

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream (second time for the big kids, first time for the little kids)

My husband is quite happy with how ADE does the history rotation. We’re both happy with the level of STEM involved. The kids seem happy that they had a little say in things, which helps the fact that they can’t choose the majority of their books. I tried hard to select books that will be appropriate for them without overwhelming them (or me) but also challenge and stretch them. I can tell some substitutions will need to be made, but so far everything is working wonderfully.

If there’s interest, I can post the books we are using for each grade once I make all my final adjustments.


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Books

My Reviews of Various Nikola Tesla Biographies

Nikola Tesla: the most underrated inventor in recent memory

Last updated: November 10, 2018
Originally written: June 18, 2018

A friend of mine on Instagram was inquiring about the various Tesla biographies I’ve read and which one would be a good one to start out with, if one wants to learn more about Nikola Tesla.

As I can be overly lengthy when talking about things I like (and really, anything relating to books will surely trigger such a reaction), I figured it would be easier to make a blog post than constantly run up against IG’s comment length limit.

The first book about Tesla I read was Margaret Cheney’s Tesla: Man out of Time. This is also a book that I did not finish (with 30 pages left) because I couldn’t handle the sudden turn of making Tesla seem to be this beyond human entity. There’s a lot of talk about ESP and Tesla and for me, that was a total turn off. It’s well-known that he had visions – flashes of light where he would see things -but to go from there to full blown ESP is a little much.

Still, there was a lot of good things in this biography, especially the whole “Edison vs Tesla” issue. It’s where I first read that Edison had neighborhood pets stolen so he could electrocute them in a scare campaign against Tesla (which shocked me so much because that was news to me and I always thought Edison is as this noble inventor…). She also did a really good job highlighting Tesla’s eccentricities (which honestly sounds like OCD but could just be how he was wired  and not actually a mental disorder).

[I promise that the amount of puns I’ve written in the above paragraph are completely unintentional.]

After I read Cheney’s biography, I went to the source himself and found a cheap copy of his autobiography on Amazon for $3. It’s a short, 92 pages and is titled “My Inventions” and is mostly about – surprise – his inventions. But he does talk a little bit about his family life. I always like to go back to the primary source whenever possible, especially when it comes to biographies.

I finished Richard Munson’s Tesla: Inventor of the Modern and absolutely loved it. There’s a lot of overlap between this book and the two other books – but this book does get more into his family life (including grandparents), includes little mini-bios of people like Edison and Westinghouse, and has quotes by Tesla sprinkled throughout. There’s also footnotes and a couple of appendices. The actual biography is about 260 pages, then the rest of the book are appendices and footnotes. And there are some pictures in the middle, which are always fun to look at. Towards the end Munson does address the “was Tesla a homosexual?” question (why is this even a question) and ends up with “probably not”. This is the best biography of Tesla I’ve read thus far in terms of readability, staying as objective as possible, and being thorough.

I did track down John O’Neill’s Prodigal Genius and oh my. The first few pages are dripping with the most over-the-top/borderline straight-up worshiping of a person I have ever seen in my life. I am an absolute fangirl for Tesla, he’s one of my personal heroes and I will get googly-eyed about him quite easily; but even this was over the top for me. Thankfully the adulation ends, but the rest of the book is just overly dry. It was not what I was hoping for and will probably end up disappearing from my collection of Tesla bios.

If you (or your older child) wants to read about Tesla, I suggest the following order. Or just pick numbers 1 and 2, you can’t go wrong with either of them. But I strongly suggest both.

[All links to Amazon are entirely affiliated, meaning you can help me purchase more books by using those links to make your purchases. Thank you! ]

  1. My Inventions by Nikola Tesla – short, cheap and is ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’, so to speak. I don’t have to worry if someone is trying to make Tesla someone he’s not.
  2. Tesla: Inventor of the Modern by Richard Munson – lengthier than Tesla’s autobiography but (as of halfway through the book) the approach to Tesla appears to be very balanced and objective. Yes, Tesla had eccentricities and visions but he was still human.
  3. Tesla: Man Out of Time by Margaret Cheney – mostly good, but the direction of making Tesla seem like this supernatural being was just too much for me. It was more in the direction of “Tesla was an alien”.
  4. Prodigal Genius by John O’Neill – Nope, nope, nope. I was so disappointed with this one. The writing style, the worship – this one fell flat.

On my pile to review: Electric Wizard – How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World (a kid’s picture book!) and Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla. Watch for those updates soon.