Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pagan Sun Day School: Letter to Parents

The following letter is an intro to the Pagan Sun Day School lessons. It refers to the lessons being in a book or books -- which eventually be the case. For now, I offer them individually for your use.

Dear parents,

Welcome to Pagan Sun Day School.  I hope you find within this series of books a religious training system from which you and your child/ren will both benefit.  I have tried to make the curriculum easy to understand for student and teacher alike.  I feel that I have developed a comprehensive and comprehensible course that will introduce children to the basic concepts of Paganism that their parents hold so dear.

This series is not intended, however, to serve as a Book of Shadows or ritual handbook for Pagan families. There are currently several books available by very capable authors dealing with rituals for families with young children. There are also books available for teenagers that deal with magical practices, pantheons, etc. I suggest that the Pagan family reads a combination of these books for information regarding ritual and family magical practice. However, I can guarantee that you will not find another resource that is comparable to the Pagan Sun Day School series in dealing with educating young Pagans about the basics of the religion.

Pagan Sun Day School is not intended to be a substitute for formal coven training.  The series ends at roughly the same time as graduation from high school.  At this time, if the student wants to pursue this path further, s/he may chose to seek coven membership in order to learn the Mysteries of that tradition or to pursue further education on an adult level.  PSDS does not delve too deeply into concepts that a child’s mind is not ready to understand. Neither does PSDS demand that the lessons be followed exactly as they are written, in the exact order that they are presented.

Instead, the curriculum is relatively flexible, allowing for differences in each individual family’s style and principles.  The lessons begin at a very simple level and gradually progress into more complicated ideas and practices.  The premise is to prepare children to make their own decisions regarding Paganism when their times come.  With this in mind, they will learn the basics of ritual, magic, ethics, etc.  They will be presented with ideas regarding deities and pantheons, as well as the elements, the Wheel of the Year, the Spiral of Life, Death, and Rebirth, and more.  In addition to their studies within Paganism, they will also be introduced to other world religions in the hopes of having a range of information on which to base their religious decisions.

The series is divided into four books, which, in turn, are divided into three grades (four, in the case of the high school edition).  They are designed so that a family may start this education at any time during a child’s development.  Many of the lesson topics are presented multiple times over the course of the thirteen years these books span.  This helps to reinforce certain concepts while expanding on them year after year. 

There are at least fifty lessons for each grade level.  If a grade has more than fifty lessons, the remainder is considered extra.  Use the fifty that you feel are most appropriate to your child/family.  This will give you a few weeks away from Pagan Sun Day School each year.  As an alternative to spending so much time away from the lessons, you may wish to use all of them, or to repeat a lesson or two.  This is perfectly fine, as it either reinforces areas of particular interest to the child or introduces them to a greater number of concepts.

Each set of lessons is grade-appropriate.  This means that Kindergarten lessons have been written with the average Kindergartner in mind.  The concepts are kept simple; the time for each lesson is relatively brief; there is no writing or reading involved for the child; there are more activities than lectures.  As the years progress, so does the expected level of comprehension.  The lessons become more challenging; the activities are more complicated; the ideas presented are more complex.  Throughout the series, however, the focus is on activities and discussion, as opposed to lecture.

Throughout the books, you will find extra activities for you and your child/ren.  The end of most lessons will have “Supplemental Activities” that are related specifically to the topic covered in those lessons.  There will also be additional activities at the end of each book that can be used at the parent’s discretion.

The order of the classes/assignments is only suggested. Parents are given plenty of “wiggle room” to accommodate for the particular needs and interests of their children. Most of the lessons are organized within units that contain a particular theme – like “Deities” or “Tools.” These lessons can be taught together in a sequence, as shown here, or they can be separated to accommodate your family’s unique style or cycles. For instance, you may prefer to teach lessons regarding Air (the element, its tools, its Deities) in an Air sign, like Libra.

Of course, some units rather lend themselves to being separated to fit certain cycles. The units covering “Moon Phases” and “Holidays” are more or less dependent on their being taught at a particular time of the month or year. It might be a little silly to teach them all in a row, regardless of the point in the cycle where you are, because children would have a difficult time relating to the ideas of Samhain at Summer Solstice. (I know I would, too.)

At the end of each series, you will find a certificate and the instructions for a small ceremony.  This is included as a way for you to honor and praise your child for completing the previous three years’ study.   They have learned a lot over the course of those three years and deserve to be recognized for their work.

It is my sincere hope that this series is of value to you and your family.  May your children find love and happiness and enlightenment, no matter which path they chose.

Laurelei Black

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

You WANT to Follow this Blog (FREE Printables!)

Not a Jedi mind-trick, folks. Just stating what I hope will be a fact for you. Why? Well, primarily because I'm a freak for organization, and nothing scratches that particular itch quite as well as creating charts, checklists, graphic organizers, and other good printable action that I find useful. And I figure that if it's good and useful for me, it might be so for some of you, as well.

I've got myself set up with a Dropbox account with the intention of sharing various printables and handouts with my readers. (I know some of you are reading, even if the site does look a little lonely and bare here in the beginning.)

For instance, I have already uploaded these documents to my Dropbox account:

Book Report Form
Leaf/Tree Identification Sheet

I have one single philosophy when it comes to sharing teaching materials: Use, lose, or abuse. Use anything I make available, if you like it. Ditch it, if you don't. Or change it to make it useful, if that's what you need. Share with anyone you like. I'm creating these docs for myself, but I'll be tickled if they can help you or your friends.

And go ahead and subscribe to this blog -- or click "follow." You'll want to keep updated, right?

Oh? And another reason to follow:

I'm working on a huge writing project for Pagan kids and families. It's called Pagan Sun Day School, and it is a full curriculum of lesson plans and ideas to help parents with teaching their kids about their religion. (Again: use, lose, abuse. I don't intend it to be the be-all and end-all. Just a starting place for parents who would like a boost.) I will offer some of the lessons for free ... just for friends of the Black Family (um ... blog readers)!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Planning -- Overview of Study

I've been looking quite a lot at the curriculum available (for FREE) through Ambleside Online. While it is quite comprehensive in most respects, it doesn't *quite* suit our household. (It is very, very Christian, after all. That's great for many families, but we are a Pagan home.)

There is so much good material available at Ambleside, though -- material that I can cull and cobble into my own planning.

Here are the subjects that I intend to cover with Harmonia between now (7th grade) and June 2018 (graduation):

Witchcraft -- divination, energy work, totemic studies, Wheel/Compass
Government and Economics
Current Events
Grammar and Composition
Nature Study
Art -- history (w/Glaux), Picture Study (appreciation), practice
Music -- Composers, piano, folksongs
Foreign Language -- Japanese, French, Sign Language
Life and Work Skills
Free Reading

Some of these subjects combine with each other in seamless and elegant ways. Recitation and copywork, for example, go together brilliantly. And what is Harmonia reciting and copying? Well, material from literature, history, poetry, witchcraft, etc. See ... elegant.

I'll always link history, geography, literature and composition. There will be plenty of opportunities, as well, to explore composition in conjunction with current events, science, etc.

What I don't do (and don't plan on doing) is working chronologically. That's one of the things I don't like about the Ambleside literature, history, composer, and art sequencing. I work thematically, not chronologically. I think it's more effective for learning to talk about ideas than times.

So here is what I think we'll be doing for the remainder of this school year (roughly):

Romeo & Juliet
Taming of the Shrew

Early Colonial American Literature (as found here)
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Selected Shakespeare sonnets

History & Geography:

Elizabeth's England
Hetalia & WWII

Artist Study:
Albrecht Durer
Norman Rockwell

Composer Study:
Bartok and Hindemuth

We do math through Khan Academy, and we'll be starting this Middle School Chemistry program (both free!).

Harmonia will continue with her Pimsleur Japanese, and we will start American Sign Language.

I think that's a good start for now. There are more aspects to consider, and I will undoubtedly be gathering resource and formulating plan all through our Winter Break. Look for some good free printables coming from me soon!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Charlotte Mason, Nature Study and Sketch Tuesday

Charlotte Mason

I follow a couple of Charlotte Mason method-inspired blogs, and I have found inspiration and comfort within their posts. I've also felt like the only Pagan Charlotte Mason homeschooler on the Interwebs, which is a somewhat lonely prospect. (I know I am not literally the only one, but I'm not seeing a lot of it around. Most folks who are writing Charlotte Mason type blogs mix in a healthy dose of Christian propaganda to both their school work and their reflections.)

Okay, here's what I love about the Charlotte Mason Method:

* Basic Educational Philosophy -- Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.
* Living Books -- Share rich, inviting, living books with children -- not dry, dissociative textbooks.
* Nature Study -- Interact with and learn from the natural world.
* Narration -- Worksheets, tests, and the like are not as useful to a mind as simply learning to pay close attention and talk about ideas, stories, music, poetry, etc.

CM's philosophy sought to educate the WHOLE child in an integrated and authentic way. When I was a School of Ed undergrad at Indiana University, I knew that an integrated and authentic approach was the way for me. I always strove to teach this way when I was still in the classroom, and I felt dreadfully stifled when the practices of a school, district, or State Dept. of Education conflicted with that (*cough* Indiana *cough*).

Now, I'm admittedly new to Miss Mason's method, and it isn't in my nature to use someone else's curriculum/materials just as they are. Nor am I a purist of her (or anybody's) method. One very wise department chair of mine taught me the "use, lose, or abuse" principle when it came to educational materials. I'm always very willing to modify excellent ideas until they are supernal! However, I am finding Simply Charlotte Mason and Practical Pages to be two very helpful sites for incorporating the CM approach into our homeschool.

Ambleside Online offers a free CM curriculum, for those who are interested.

Nature Study

So, as a Pagan, this emphasis on nature study really appeals to me. I'm going to be honest and say that this is another area of study that Harmonia and I have neglected during this first semester. However, I plan on working it into our regular work beginning in January.

One resource that I plan on using as a starting point is the Outdoor Hour Challenge from the Handbook of Nature Study.  I'm planning on having us begin with Barb's "Getting Started" series of 10 challenges before jumping into the ones she posts on the blog each week. That'll give Harmonia and I the chance to get used to our nature journals and start to develop our own process for the study.

#1 Let's Get Started
#2 Using Your Words
#3 Now Is The Time To Draw
#4 It Is Coming Into Focus
#5 Keeping a List
#6 Collections
#7 Your Own Field Guide
#8 Magnifying Lens
#9 One Small Square
#10 Picnic

I like the nature journal pages Nadene from Practical Pages has offered readers.  I also like the idea of making a bag for nature study walks, and I am sure Harmonia and I will tackle that project soon in our home ec undertakings.

Sketch Tuesday

Harmonia and I have only participated in one Sketch Tuesday so far, but it was fun, free-spirited, and worth repeating. I need it to brush up on my sketching technique, and Harmonia needs it so she won't feel so self-conscious about drawing.

This site/project is brought to the world by Barb, of the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Essentially, Barb posts a broad category or topic each week, and readers sketch whatever they want to sketch within that topic.

Art education is a many splendor'd (or multi-headed) thing in our home. My parents are artists, as are Glaux and I. Harmonia has been learning about pottery since she was 8, and she's very talented. We try to get her into her favorite pottery studio on a regular basis. Glaux, who majored in Fine Art in college, handles Harmonia's art history/appreciation classes with just a little supplementation by me. (I'll take a concept that they've discussed, for instance, and turn it into a mini-project that complements something we're studying in literature or social studies.)

Grammie was handling Harmonia's fine art instruction (drawing, painting, etc), but she and Pa will be snow-birding from Jan 1 thru March 31. Art will revert to Glaux and myself (along with Algebra and home ec) during that time, and I am looking forward to trying out some ideas in that arena.

Recitation (some thoughts)

As Harmonia and I finish up our first semester of homeschooling together (... well, first semester in 7 years), I am looking at a few areas of study that I want to make sure to include as we move forward. Old-fashioned recitation is one of those areas.

Reciting lines of verse used to be a standard part of the curriculum, but it has fallen pretty far out of fashion. About the only folks I see using recitation as an educational tool are the decidedly Christian homeschoolers who use it as a tool for Scripture study. However, I really think that memorizing passages by rote and quoting them back again has a place within contemporary education.

My parents (Grammie and Pa) have largely been handling Harmonia's math instruction. They've been using lessons from the Khan Academy, and Harmonia is working through the Algebra lessons. She understands the concepts just fine, but we are discovering that her basic memorization of the multiplication tables  is patchy. Given how foundational multiplication tables are to all sorts of higher math (and basic math, for that matter), I know I need to incorporate some memorization activities into her schooling.

When I was in elementary school, I memorized a Bible verse each week as part of my Baptist education. Yes, this was clearly a ploy at indoctrination, but it was also a good stretch of muscles that we all need to be able to use. Some information in our daily lives jut needs to be committed to memory.

My high school English classes also used memorization and recitation as a standard part of the curriculum. This was the early 1990s in a small Oklahoma public school, and nobody else I knew in other states was memorizing lines of poetry. Typically, we had to say 100 lines of poetry (all chosen from that grade's literature anthology) per semester. Honors students said more -- usually 200. My best friend and I challenged ourselves to memorize 100+ lines at once. She did Poe's "The Raven" and I did "The Bells." More than 20 years later, and I still know huge chunks of both classics verbatim. (I also memorized Luke 2:1-20 in the 2nd grade -- and again in the 9th -- and recited this Christmas passage at church for my grandparents.)

Has all that memorization paid off? Heck yes. I have a great memory for quotes, facts, stories, etc. Maybe I came by that naturally, but I've seen the same sort of retention of information from folks who have trained in theatre (lots of lines to memorize for plays) and certain segments of the magical community that use standard, memorized liturgies as part of their rites (Ordo Templi Orientis Gardenerian Wicca, for example).

What to include as memorization material?

Well, Harmonia identifies as a Witch, so I might include some pieces of liturgical pieces. Maybe I'll break down "The Charge of the Goddess" or have her memorize our Housle. We're studying Romeo and Juliet right now, so I think I can reasonably include the famous sonnet that comprises the Prologue to Act 1 ("Two houses, both alike in dignity ...") and possibly a few choice rhyming couplets from within the text. There are several important pieces by Aleister Crowley that I would like her to practice with and be thinking about (some key lines from the Gnostic Creed, the Book of the Law, and Liber Resh vel Helios). Beyond those pieces, I'm thinking I'll just pick some good classics of poetry, and I'll encourage her to do her own explorations and selections of poetry for this purpose.

Friday, I think, will be our day for recitation. Yeah, I like that. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Little Women and the Civil War

From the middle of September through the end of October, Harmonia's literature, composition and social studies lessons used Louisa May Calcott's classic Little Women and it's Civil War setting as an over-arching theme. We even found a science lesson! Below are some links and activities from that unit:

* "Intro to the Civil War" Power Point -- You can find several good ones here
* Little Women Word Bank -- vocabulary words based on unfamiliar words we encountered while reading
* Death and the Civil War science lesson -- uses various historical documents to give scope and setting to the human toll during this conflict -- available here
* Civil War letters (primary documents) -- lesson available here
* The Gettysburg Address -- watched this YouTube video and this Power Point
* Battle of Corydon (As Hoosiers, taking a look at the only other Civil War battle fought on Union soil -- in Corydon, IN -- was very interesting) -- we had every intention of taking a field trip to the battle site, but the weather was uncooperative.
* Rebel Yell -- watched this video
* Letter to a character from Little Women -- give advice

Little Women journal questions:
* Which character do you think you are most like in this story? Explain.
* Write about a time when you felt awkward or uncomfortable in a social setting. Why do you think you felt this way?
* If you could change one quality about yourself, what would it be? Explain.
* Predict what you think you might be like in three year. What will you be interested in? How will you spend your time? What will you have accomplished?
* Write about a time when you felt proud of a talent or accomplishment.
* How important is money to you/your life? Explain.
* How do you handle sadness, loneliness, or disappointment? Explain.

Each picture is attached just along its top edge -- so they flip up.
Notebook Pages
(I have Harmonia keep a thematic notebook for each unit we study. I'll post about how I do that soon.)
* US Map showing Union and Confederate States
* Vivandieres -- Harmonia took notes and chose a picture from the Daughter of the Regiment website
* Zouaves 
* Morse Code and the Telegraph
* Civil War Quilts
* Civil War ships
* Women's Clothing of the 1800s -- pantalettes, chemise, corset, hoop skirt, petticoat; found information on each and printed pictures
* Food Price Comparison -- using info here and a trip to the grocery store, Harmonia made a compare/contrast chart
* Venn Diagram -- Meg at 16 v. Meg at 22
* Venn Diagram -- Laurences (Laurie and Amy) v. the Brookes (Meg and John)

Nadene at Practical Pages has some great Civil War notebooking resources here -- plus lots of good tidbits on notebooking.

Paragraph/Chunk Writing Practice
(I was trained to teach composition using the Jane Shaffer writing method. I love it, and I will write a separate entry on it in the future. For now, check out Wikipedia's entry. For chunk/paragraph practice, I provide a topic sentence and maybe a concrete detail, and Harmonia writes the rest.)
* A young person can change and mature a lot in three years.
* Talent can bring both joy and comfort
* Amy is the sister most concerned with money and social status.
* Laurie is smitten with Jo.
* Amy and Laurie fall in love in a surprising way.
* Although quiet and shy, Beth makes a big impact on her family.
* Jo was unable to love Laurie in a romantic way.

Final Projects
* Little Women commercial -- Harmonia used some simple video editing software to splice together pictures, music, and her own captions into this book trailer.
* Civil War Simulation -- Fun writing project that gets you in the middle of the action. I had Harmonia choose her person randomly. (She was Jefferson Davis!)

Just for fun, we watched Gone with the Wind.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Curriculum overview

Thought I would you an idea of what we studying, in general, right now. We don't cover all of these topics every day; rather, we have the week scheduled so that we spend a few hours on each subject at a time. Only algebra gets a slim portion of time. I mean, who can stomach two straight hours of math? Not our Harmonia!

Literature -- Romeo & Juliet
Composition -- daily journals; working on a five paragraph essay based on the Jane Shaffer method
History -- Elizabethan England -- presenting a young woman's dress at a local history fair on Feb 23
Math -- Algebra (proportions)
Art History -- Renaissance
Art -- pottery, plus Sketch Tuesdays
Science -- botany (leaf/tree identification), plus weekly nature walks
Foreign Language -- Japanese (conversational)
Music -- piano
Home Ec -- sewing
Religious Studies -- divination (beginning Tarot and palmistry); comparison of Winter holidays

We are trying out a few different local homeschool groups -- all secular. Only one is really close to us, at 20 minutes away. I just discovered it today, and I'm so excited. It meets at a nearby library twice a month.

The two others we've been attending are each about 40 minutes away. One hasn't worked out well so far as most of the kids are significantly younger than Harmonia, but the other (Free Your Mind -- FYM) has had wonderful field trips and events. We'll probably stick with the Library group and FYM.

More to come on the Civil War/Little Women unit we just finished up and the Renaissance/Romeo & Juliet unit we are beginning.

Also coming soon: The Hero's Journey/LotR  and World History/Hetalia

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

And then the Moms got jobs ... hmmmm

So, almost immediately after writing our first blog entry, I (Laurelei) applied for and was offered a position as a psychic reader at Inner Path in Greenwood. I work two days per week, plus the monthly psychic fairs; and I have loved it, but boy howdy! has it made life busy.  I started on October 3. Glaux started about 2-3 weeks later.

Has all of this mom-busyness put a damper on school life here at MOMrovia Middle School? Um ... yes! I thought we could easily work it out, since Grammie and Pa are so involved in educating Miss Harmonia, and Glaux works different days than me, ... but there are issues. My Harmonia girl isn't thriving, and she has to come before the other work.

So, I'm in talks with the store's owners about how best to proceed. I'd still love to teach classes here and there, and Harmonia could even help out with the dance classes. I'd even love to continue giving readings during the psychic fairs. I just can't be in the store all day twice a week.

I'll redouble my efforts with Blade & Broom Botanica -- which I can work on easily in the evenings after lessons are done. Yep, that's about it.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chapter 1: I am born.

Welcome to the birth of our family's Pagan, Witchy, homeschooling, poly ADVENTURE BLOG!

The Black Family

 Not a one of us carries the legal name Black; however, that surname has become a collective moniker for the family. How? Well, Iron Dragon used it as part of his most prominent online pseudonym within the local Pagan community. He uses it in combination with his middle name, so the whole pseudonym sounds reasonable enough that everyone has assumed it's really his name. When I (Laurelei) entered the relationship with Glaux and Iron, I picked it up, too. I was a writer in search of a nome de plume, and here was Iron using a surname that really did belong to my family's heritage. (If Pa, my father, had been reared by his biological father, his last name and my maiden name would have been Black. Adoption, though, gave us an awesome family and a different name altogether!)

Glaux and Iron have been together since 2003. Incidentally, that was the same year "Eros" was born! I joined the relationship in August 2008, bringing my whole crazy family with me. =)

"Harmonia" was born early in 2000, making her ALMOST a teenager!

My parents ("Grammie and Pa" to my kids and readers) invited us to move in with them at the end of 2009, and we established our multi-generational, communal, artistic, Bohemian household at the very beginning of 2010.

Pa and Grammie on a family trip to St. Augustine in 2011

Laurelei & Glaux at the Ohio Ren Faire in 2011
Iron Dragon (at Brushwood) -- Firetending in 2008

Eros at the Indy Zoo in 2012
Harmonia at home in 2012

Who Am We?

Laurelei is a writer and publisher, former public school English and Theatre/Speech teacher, psychic/intuitive reader, artist, Witch shop proprietress, and life coach. Busy? Oh yes. She also homeschools Harmonia, covering literature, composition, social studies, science, and more. She coordinates Harmonia's studies with the other family members and outside teachers/activities Think of her as the Headmistress of Mom-rovia Middle School.

Glaux is an artist, web designer, librarian (by heart, if no longer by profession), psychic/intuitive reader. She teaches Harmonia Art History.

Iron Dragon is an IT consultant, former Army MP, and oft-times "Professional Scarer." (He has designed and managed several "haunts" -- houses, cornfields, woods, sanitariums.)

Grammie is also a former school-teacher (elementary), artist, and fiber artist (crochet, mainly). She teaches Harmonia Home Economics and sometimes Art. She also takes Harmonia to outside Art, Pottery, and Riding (horse) classes.

Pa worked in accounting and computer programming for the Army and the Department of Defense. He is also a musician and artist. He teaches Harmonia math (currently Algebra) and supplements her piano classes with other musical training.

Eros is the youngest member of our family, and he primarily lives with his and Harmonia's father about 90 minutes from the Black House. He attends public school, where he excels both academically and socially. He loves to play video games, soccer, basketball and baseball. We have him with us every other weekend and school holidays during the school year; and he is here every other week throughout the summer.

Harmonia primarily lives at the Black House. She spends weekends and summers on the same schedule as Eros. She loves anime/manga, making pottery, drawing, reading and costuming. She's played softball since Kindergarten and other sports intermittently.

We co-habitate with two rabbits (Fred and George) and four cats (Glaux's Hex and Jinx, Harmonia's Tux, and Grammie's Tizzy). Hex, Jinx and the rabbits live downstairs with us. Tux and Tizzy are upstairs and outside cats.

Non-Residential Family

We have a cast of characters that rotates through the house pretty regularly. Our coven -- Serpentina, the Hearth-Keeper and her daughter, and a couple of newly interested folks -- are here and heavily involved with our lives. Plenty Paws and the Bearded Goat are here almost every week.

Whatcha Gonna Do?

This blog is going to be dedicated to our homeschool activities, concepts relating to Pagan and Poly families, and communal living. We hope you enjoy peeking into our lives, and we hope that you'll have information and inspiration among the wild gypsy ramblings of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black.
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