• 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, home schooling, and building our own house. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 18/Grade 12, 16/Grade 11, and 14/Grade 10.

    Contact me at becky(dot)farmschool(at)gmail(dot)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"

    "‘Never look at an ugly thing twice. It is fatally easy to get accustomed to corrupting influences."
    English architect CFA Voysey (1857-1941)

    "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."

    "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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  • Copyright © 2005-2016 Please do not use any of my words or my personal photographs without my express permission.

Musical accompaniments for Ben and Me (and Davy Crockett, too)

I was at Amazon looking for a CD version of the old LP Davy Crockett — Western Adventures with Fess Parker, Buddy Ebsen, and Gene Autry when I chanced upon Davy Crockett’s Fiddle, music from Crockett’s time performed on Crockett’s own fiddle by Dean Shostak, who began playing violin at Colonial Williamsburg at age of 14. About 15 years ago, Mr. Shostak

became involved in the revival of the rare and beautiful glass armonica, invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761. Today, there are only eight glass armonica players in the world. Dean is credited with bringing the glass armonica to Williamsburg, where it was performed on many occasions over 200 years ago. Instead of using an electric motor to spin the glasses, Dean is the only glass armonica player since the 18th century to use a flywheel and foot treadle as Franklin originally designed.

Which made me think of JoVE and of my own Davy, and while he’s a banjo fan, I think this would be mighty appealing for him.

And that led me to Mr. Shostak and friends performing Colonial Fair: Songs, Stories, and Riddles. From the Amazon website: “Humor, history and music come together on this new 55-minute recording as kids get a chance to hear unusual instruments like Ben Franklin’s glass armonica, hurdy-gurdy, fife and drum and harpsichord, as well as sing along to favorites such as ‘Yankee Doodle’, ‘Old King Cole’, and ‘Simple Simon’. Among the colorful characters kids will meet are merchants singing street cries, fortune tellers, and even fiddlers in a contest. Kids also get to test their wits by solving riddles taken from the 18th century.”

And finally, for a Ben Franklin Christmas (no, not now — save it for next Christmas), Mr. Shostak’s Crystal Carols, traditional Christmas carols arranged for the glass armonica, with violin, piano and harp accompaniment.

Though, drat it all, can’t seem to find any of them at either Amazon.ca or Chapters.ca. Will have to contact Mr. Shostak directly to inquire about Canadian distributors, or shipping to the north*.

* Thanks all for your kind (and warm) blizzard wishes. The kids and I are safe and indoors, though the wind is still blowing and the snow swirling around. It’s all supposed to be over by the end of the day.


from the library’s Winter 2007 Canadian Family:

Mr. Smart, The Educated Monkey

Art Songs: Ten Songs about Artists by Agnes and Aubrey; from the Tate:

Do you know who dripped paint on to large canvases? Or which artist saw angels in the street? Can you explain what Cubism is? These quirky, catchy songs introduce listeners of all ages to fascinating facts about major artists. You will be intrigued by the variety of musical styles and inventive lyrics. A colourful illustrated booklet with full lyrics completes this unique collection.

Featured artists include William Blake, Frida Kahlo, Wassily Kandinsky, Jackson Pollock, Henri Rousseau and J.M.W. Turner.

CD with 24 page booklet, illustrated in colour throughout and packaged in a cardboard case.

Mary Agnes Richards is a musician, writer and editor.

David Aubrey Schweitzer has composed music and songs for numerous films and TV programmes including the Bafta-nominated BBC Series Charlie & Lola.

Back-to-school goodie bags

I have to admit that while I can’t stand the provincial public school system, I love the idea of school. In fact, I think I wrote recently that one of the reasons we pulled Laura out to homeschool is that Tom and I each loved school so much (I used to cry on the last day of school because I was so sad to find it over) that we wanted our kids to feel the very same way about school, education, and learning. Not all the same, but all good things in their own ways.

I love school supplies, and to me the excitement of a new beginning in September has always been better than anticlimax of the post-holiday new beginning in January. Call me crazy. And part of that crazy excitement bubbles over into new books, art supplies, CDs, and movies I can share with the kids. By the way, even though the CDs and movies are put in individual bags, it’s understood that they’re all for-sharing-with-the-whole-family items. I’m nuts but I’m not that nuts.

For Davy, five-and-a-half and in 1st grade:
all first graders around here get a Timex learner’s watch (this one has a dinosaur design) and a good quality set of colored pencils (Laurentian “Studio”, new this year and so far so good);
small Lego “Racers” kit, with small car (since Lego counts as both a science kit and a math manipulative around here);
Lentil by Robert McCloskey (for music appreciation);
George Shrinks by William Joyce (to make new reading lessons fun);
Look at the Sky and Tell the Weather and Eric Sloane’s Weather Book, for my weather nut who was wearing out the library’s copies, and because anything by Sloane is wonderful
American Tall Tales audio CD by Jim Weiss, to go along with our continuing American history/SOTW3 studies
stickers/tracing paper/notebook/cardmaking bits and bobs

Daniel, edging closer to seven-and-a-half, 2nd grade:
“Building Big” DVD series by David Macaulay, definitely a big ticket item and one that’s been on my Amazon wish list for years, both for Tom and for the kids. Based on our first viewing tonight, I’d say it’s a big success, too. Ten thumbs up. Even if I can’t expense it for Tom’s construction work…
Burt Dow, Deep Water Man by Robert McCloskey
Emma’s Strange Pet by Canadian author Jean Little, an I Can Read book for my lizard lover and new reader
Lego “Racers” kit, with small car (see above)
Abraham Lincoln and the Heart of America audio CD by Jim Weiss (see above)
stickers/tracing paper/notebook/cardmaking bits and bobs

Laura, nine years old, 4th grade:
School Smarts planner from American Girl, discovered by Laura in a summertime AG catalogue, and upon reflection decided upon as a way of moving her to more independent work, with (first) reading and then writing assignments. I’m hoping yesterday’s excitement about the planner and extra responsibility continues;
Kaya’s Story Collection by Janet Shaw (which Laura is enjoying immensely)
“Living Adventures from American History” CD from Eye in the Ear, another companion resource for our two-year SOTW3 studies, and something I’m eager to hear myself after reading the write-up in the Chinaberry catalogue several years ago;
The Burgess Seashore Book for Children by Thornton Burgess, to take along when we visit my parents in the West Indies in the new year;
Thomas Jefferson’s America audio CD by Jim Weiss (see above)
“Handwriting by George: Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company & Conversation”, a cursive writing workbook to take advantage of Laura’s American Girl/colonial America fixation (I’m sure you’re noticing an AG trend here in my Canadian girl); that’s George as in Gen. Washington;
The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson, which I’m hoping Laura will let me read aloud to the three of them;
a few bookmarks I made with a line for the day’s date and “I need to read ____ pages by _______” to keep track of her new independent reading assignments; we’ll see how this works and I’ll keep you posted;
stickers/tracing paper/notebook/cardmaking bits and bobs