• About Farm School

    "There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
    James Adams, from his essay "To 'Be' or to 'Do': A Note on American Education", 1929

    We're a Canadian family of five, farming and home schooling. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 16/Grade 11, 14/Grade 9, and 13/Grade 8.

    Contact me at becky.farmschool@gmail.com

  • Notable Quotables

    "If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
    William Morris, from his lecture "The Beauty of Life"

    "The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall, nations perish, civilizations grow old and die out; and, after an era of darkness, new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again, and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead."
    Clarence Day

    "Anyone who has a library and a garden wants for nothing."
    Cicero

    "Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtile; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend."
    Sir Francis Bacon, "Essays"

    "The chief aim of education is to show you, after you make a livelihood, how to enjoy living; and you can live longest and best and most rewardingly by attaining and preserving the happiness of learning."
    Gilbert Highet, "The Immortal Profession: The Joys of Teaching and Learning"

    "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment."
    Walter Wriston

    "I'd like to give you a piece of my mind."
    "Oh, I couldn't take the last piece."
    Ginger Rogers to Frances Mercer in "Vivacious Lady" (1938)

    "No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."
    Booker T. Washington

    "Please accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member."
    Attributed to Groucho Marx in "The Groucho Letters" by Arthur Sheekman

    "If you can't say something good about someone, sit right here by me."
    Alice Roosevelt Longworth

    "If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, we feel all our hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'."
    Jean Hagen as "Lina Lamont" in "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)
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Latest from art lessons

Laura’s been taking art lessons for about a year and a half now, and Daniel since September. Since I’m playing with the digital camera, I thought I’d try my hand at their latest efforts, completed this month:

Cowboy and horse by Daniel
This is his second or third project since September; he
used a grid and acrylic paints, copying a photograph from
an old calendar I saved.


Snow leopard by Laura

Pastels and charcoal; she copied freehand from an old
Ranger Rick magazine.

Poetry Friday: Burma-Shave

Not much time for Poetry Friday this week either but I’ve decided that if I choose something short and sweet, I can swing it. And so……

The Poetry of Burma-Shave:



Shaving brushes
You’ll soon see ‘em
Way down east
In some
Museum
Burma-Shave

To kiss
A mug
That’s like a cactus
Takes more nerve
Than it does practice
Burma-Shave

Altho
We’ve sold
Six million others
We still can’t sell
Those coughdrop
Brothers
Burma-Shave

Prickly pears
Are picked
For pickles
No peach picks
A face that prickles
Burma-Shave

If you
Don’t know
Whose signs
These are
You can’t have
Driven very far.

This is not
A clever verse
I tried
And tried
But just
Got worse

For Benjamin Franklin types:
Early to bed
Early to rise
Was meant for those
Old fashioned guys
Who don’t use
Burma-Shave

For Shakespeare types:
Said Juliet
To Romeo
If you
Won’t shave
Go homeo
Burma-Shave

Some patriotic entries:
Hinky dinky
Parley voo
Cheer up face
The war
Is thru
Burma-Shave (1930)

Let’s make Hitler
And Hirohito
Look as sick as
Old Benito
Buy defense bonds
Burma-Shave (1942)

Maybe you can’t
Shoulder a gun
But you can shoulder
The cost of one
Buy defense bonds
Burma-Shave (1942)

More than a few warnings against drinking and driving:
If every sip
Fills you
With zip
Then your sipper
Needs a zipper
Burma-Shave

Sleep in a chair
Nothing to lose
But a nap
At the wheel
Is a permanent snooze
Burma-Shave

Don’t lose
Your head
To gain a minute
You need your head
Your brains are in it
Burma-Shave

From
Bar
To car
To
Gates ajar
Burma-Shave

A girl
Should hold on
To her youth
But not
When he’s driving
Burma-Shave

From Burma-Shave historian Frank Rowsome (see below), an unofficial entry, c1965:
Farewell, O verse
Along the road
How sad to
Know you’re
Out of mode
Burma-Shave

And an appropriate way to end this, from the 1949 advertising campaign:
Just this once
And just for fun
We’ll let you
Finish
What we’ve begun
? ? ?

***

For you youngsters, Burma-Shave was, at the time of its 1925 introduction, a newfangled brushless shaving cream developed by Clinton Odell’s Burma-Vita Company. It was promoted with humorous verses on newfangled billboards, in staggered sequence, along newfangled highways for newfangled automobiles . But while the ad campaign was one of America’s most memorable, and the company at one point the second most popular manufacturer of shaving cream, by the 1960s faster speeds on four-lane interstate highways did in the jingles and then, the company, which was sold to Phillip Morris in 1963, and then became an operating division of a subsidiary, American Safety Razor Products. Which for some reason now sells under the Burma-Shave label a soap-and-brush set. And this is progress? But I digress.

I found my rhymes in an old copy of Frank Rowsome, Jr.*’s The Verse by the Side of the Road: The Story of the Burma-Shave Signs and Jingles, still in print, hurray, hurray; You can buy the book or find all of the jingles online at this website, where you can even register for the jingle of the day. For more on the life and times of Burma-Shave, here are links to an NPR story (don’t miss the picture of penguins in Antarctica perusing the signs), and another book, Burma-Shave: The Rhymes, the Signs, the Times by Bill Vossler.

Now if I could just figure out how to put a nickel in my computer and get out a piece of pie

*The versatile Mr. Rowsome was Managing Editor of Popular Science Monthly, head of the Technical Publications section at NASA, and also wrote Trolley Car Treasury, They Laughed When I Sat Down: An Informal History of Advertising in Words and Pictures, and Think Small: The Story of Those Volkswagen Ads.

*************

Susan at Chicken Spaghetti has today’s Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Susan!

From wisteria: "If your child could own only 25 picture books…

what would they be and why? I challenge!”

wisteria is thinking about buying, culling, and rereading books.

I decided to take her up on her challenge. Although wisteria asked about a single child, I decided instead to base the list on all three children’s favorite picture books, and a few of my own favorites as well. But for the four of us, I just couldn’t get the list down to 25. Thirty was the bare, non-negotiable, minimum between the four of us, and I’m sure we forgot a few. I’d like to see what others are able to come up with, and if they can keep to the 25.

So here’s the list, highly subjective, in no particular order, and influenced by the fact that when the kids were born our home library included all of my old children’s books. A big thank you to my parents in a small NYC apartment who never considered not saving them. Well, almost never. And yes, I still have a dim memory of going to the Willy O’Dwyer book signing on Fifth Avenue, upstairs I think, at Brentano’s or Rizzoli, I think…

1. Andy and the Lion by James Daugherty
2. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
3. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
4. Little Farm by Lois Lenski
5. Cowboy Small by Lois Lenski
6. Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle
7. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
8. Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton
9. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
10. Harold and the Purple Crayon
11. The Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown
12. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
13. The Tale of Two Bad Mice by Beatrix Potter
14. Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag
16. Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall
17. Pelle’s New Suit by Elsa Beskow
18. Roxaboxen by Barbara Cooney
19. Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack
20. Babar the King by Jean de Brunhoff
21. Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
22. The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier
23. Willy O’Dwyer Jumped in the Fire by Beatrice Schenk and Beni Montresor
24. Cinderella by Marcia Brown
25. Little Wild Horse by Hetty Burlingame Beatty
26. A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban
27. The Man Who Didn’t Wash His Dishes by Phyllis Krasilovsky
28. Five Minutes’ Peace by Jill Murphy
29. The Little Brute Family by Russell Hoban
30. What Do You Do, Dear? by Sesyle Joslin

More CDs, less radio

Yesterday was the first day of the Pickton murder trial in British Columbia, and if you don’t get Canadian radio, including CBC, and you’re really interested in the gory details (and I do mean gory) you’ll just have to Google it. But if you do and you click on any links, make sure your kids aren’t in the room.

Those of us with a radio tuned to CBC plunked on the kitchen counter got quite the unexpected, graphic, earful at the close of the first day’s testimony; fortunately, the kids were in a bedroom playing while I was near enough to hit the off-switch, though not until I had heard something I didn’t need or want to hear. Interestingly, much discussion on CBC radio in the days leading up to the planned year-long trial on the traumatic effects of the testimony on jurors. But no thought at all given to listeners, and their children, who don’t want the latest details on the depths of human depravity and evil broadcast every hour on the hour.

I know I’m not the only disappointed, displeased listener, and yes, I did share my thoughts with the Powers That Be, along with the suggestion of establishing a dedicated page on the website with the gruesome nitty gritty for those who want it. Since we have only two TV channels, watching the national news only after 10 pm, and don’t get a daily newspaper, radio is our main concern. But if we did read a paper every day, I’d want it to be The Vancouver Sun, which has made thoughtful plans for its reporting:

To assist you, our readers, in assessing the day’s Pickton trial stories, we will publish every day on page A2 a short and sanitized version of the previous day’s testimony.

When the more complete story inside the paper contains disturbing information, a warning to that effect will appear on page A2. A warning will also appear on the top of any story that might require reader discretion.

You, our readers, will be able to choose to avoid stories that you think might offend you. You will be able to keep the stories out of the hands of your children should you choose to do so.

Admirable.

I also shared with CBC our family’s Plan B, developed during the Bernardo/Homolka trial, which was considerably shorter and took place, for us at least, Before Children: unless the editors and producers iron out their coverage and learn to exercise discretion by the end of the week, it’s CD-city for us for the next 12 months. Music, recorded books, you name it. But no radio broadcasts with news coverage.

Joyful influences: More thoughts on poetry and literature for children

this time from Willa at everywakinghour in this post (I’m still catching up on my blog reading as you can tell). Some of the highlights, but go read the entire piece:

Children aren’t born knowing what we consider “accessible” to them. They find it out based on their experience of what’s around them, what we let them have access to and what they make of it with their own minds and hearts. Sometimes adults can expect both less and more of the child than he is capable of. They can give him material that Charlotte Mason would call “twaddle” and then expect him to be able to work with it on a level more suitable of an older student. A lot of teaching errors come from one or both of these mistakes.

and

Probably the bottom line is that children aren’t dumb. They are as intelligent as we are, but their intelligence works through their hands and senses and creativity. So we don’t have to dumb down things to make them accessible. Perhaps we think that letting them explore with their hands and imaginations, and “play” with the experience, is dumbing down, but that’s just because adults have a limited idea of what intelligence is.

Lovely to read about Willa’s daughter, now a teenager: “Obviously she wasn’t [at age six] comprehending the full story but Shakespeare and Tolkien have continued to be big and joyful influences on her life.”

More bits and bobs: algebra, kidlit, Dickens, and Chaucer

This post, Have algebra books changed?, by Maria at the always worthwhile Homeschool Math Blog, caught my eye. Good to read read even if your kids aren’t quite ready for algebra.

Kelly at Big A little a is ready with the 10th Carnival of Children’s Literature. Lots of good stuff, or “toasty posts” as Kelly calls them, to read on a cold winter’s day (or night)!

A classical homeschooling friend sent me a copy of this article from The Christian Science Monitor about more Charles Dickens for children. Columnist and parent Janine Woods gives some tips at the end for adding more great books, and Great Books, to your child’s life. I’d just add that for many, Dickens is a wonderful family tradition at Christmas, whether it’s reading A Christmas Carol aloud on Christmas Eve, or watching one of the many movie versions (we’re partial to Alistair Sim). And you can’t go wrong starting even young kids with simplified versions or abridged editions, such as Marcia Williams’s comic-strip style Charles Dickens and Friends, which includes, as the subtitle says, “Five Lively Retellings”: Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, and A Christmas Carol.

Marcia Williams’s classic retellings — of Shakespeare, King Arthur, Don Quixote, the Old Testament, and more — are so popular at our house and with friends that I was delighted to discover, while poking around Amazon for links, her just-published version of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, which I also just discovered The Globe & Mail‘s Susan Perren calls “a delightful introduction to Chaucer.” Another good review earlier this week in The Columbus Dispatch. And thumbs up too from The Washington Post; as Elizabeth Ward wrote last week about what she calls “exceptional picture books [that] tell of life and love”: “At first blink, Chaucer seems unlikely to appeal to children.”

Poetry for Friday

Nothing from me today for Poetry Friday — too busy, so I’ll shoot for a Poetry Saturday, I hope — but I wanted to make sure to post the link to my fellow Cybils panelist Elaine’s fabulous Poetry Friday post today, complete with fabulous poems (including one by Farm School favorite Eleanor Farjeon) and links (including one to even more Farjeon poetry), over at Blue Rose Girls, on “The What and Why of Poetry”, with poems and prose about poetry.

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