Bella’s Fancy

1. These Happy Golden Years

Laura and Almanzo paper dolls and the little gray house that Almanzo built for Laura.

We finished These Happy Golden Years on Tuesday and Bella was up early the next morning and had drawn all of this before I was up.

Obviously Bella was just as take with all the drawers and cupboards as I was! On the bottom left is the stove, you can see the stovepipe going up to the top. The top right is the room with the bed. I think there’s a rocking chair in front of the door. She said she didn’t have room for both rocking chairs.

I just love how much detail she remembers from our reading. Although she completely freezes up if I try to ask her to narrate right after I’ve read, she often will recount the story in great detail to Dom. The other day she told my mom several chapters worth, telling it chapter by chapter. And then sometimes she opts for the drawn narration. The thing is she actively tries to recall as much as possible of what I read to her so that she can use the stories in her games. She sees history books as raw material for imaginative play. Whatever habits of attention children are supposed to acquire from narration, Bella obviously has. Do I even need to bother to try to get her to narrate right away when she clearly has a great facility for adding the information to her long term memory? I’m thinking the internal work is being done even if it does take her longer to process the information. (And it doesn’t seem to matter at all to her retention that we often read chapters from half a dozen different books all back to back. She doesn’t need a break between books at all. In it all goes.

2. Warriors


Bella got an Amazon gift card for her birthday. I thought she might want to choose some books, but she instead opted for a trio of warriors: a figure of a Spartan warrior with sword and shield, Ramses with a bow, an English bowman with battle ax. She said she needed some men to balance out all her princesses and queens. That’s my girl. (You think the Homer and Narnia, and Armory Museum are rubbing off?)

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  • Again and again Melanie – you don’t disappoint.  Great post and lots to chew on.  I haven’t had a chance to read the articles you linked to yet, but I did watch the video.  It was very good and one line stood out to me in particular “No humanities, no relationships”.  I have been reflecting lately about what it means to be in true relationship with someone and not just a lot of this fly by stuff that seems to be very common in our culture (mostly due to the nature of how we all communication – facebook, blogs, etc.).  Anyway, I don’t have this all fleshed out and I am not sure I am even making sense here in the com box.  Regardless, I wanted to say thanks for the post and for again satiating my hunger for some “real meat” in regards to literacy and how important it is. 

    P.S.  I will send you an e-mail about some other thoughts I have that are not conducive to a com box.

  • Marie, I do love that bit about relationships. Charlotte Mason says that education is the science of relationships and emphasizes that children must form relationships with ideas. I’d add that we also need to be able to discern the relationships among ideas. This is what I like to think of as entering into the Great Conversation, forming relationships with all the great thinkers and artists who have ever left us a record of what they thought or created, seeing how they are in conversation with each other and that we too can enter into the discussion.

  • A few thoughts on the Common Core.  I have not wanted to enter into the debate, although I have opinions (as usual).  But in the context of your post, I am more comfortable.

    The first issue I see:  do we really want to have a national curriculum, with all the bureaucracy and difficulty of making changes that are likely to ensue?  If you don’t like the idea of a national curriculum, then Common Core is a bad idea.  No matter how many good books are included, if there is insufficient room for adapting to local culture and even particular classroom situations, then we lose by adopting this curriculum.  The curriculum becomes the worst of “No Child Left Behind” on steroids.

    The secondary issue, of course, is what is actually in the Common Core, and who evaluates it, and who makes adjustments.  Who has a say?  How long will it take before the Diversity flag is run up?  Where does that leave the humanities and the once-common culture?

    But because I am still stuck at the first issue, no matter how good the books (for now) and no matter how values-free (again, for now), I can’t swallow the idea of Common Core.

  • On a side note, I am looking for a nearby Catholic homeschooling group that might work for my family.  Would you be willing to give more info about your group, location, etc?  If so, would you please e-mail me privately? 

    Thank you!

  • scotch meg,

    I’m pretty much with you. I think a national curriculum violates the principle of subsidiarity. Actually any federal involvement in education seems to me like a bad idea and frankly state involvement seems iffy too. I think schools should be run on the local level, which doesn’t mean that curriculum providers couldn’t have national coverage, but that it would be up to local schools to adopt their materials.

    Christine, I’ll email you.

  • The Common Core is not a curriculum. It’s a set of standards that basically set out the end goals of learning, but does not dictate how to get there. So, it says things like – total paraphrase here – “students should gain familiarity with classic works of American literature,” NOT things like, “students must read The Scarlet Letter and Huck Finn.” Or “students should be able to multiply fractions” but not which math textbook to use. The actual curriculum is still set at the local level.

    Thanks for the link to the Esolen piece, which I had seen when it first ran but didn’t get around to reading. There is a comment over there that totally nails what I”ve been trying to figure out how to say about the Common Core.