And now for something completely different

It’s my first video review. It’s for Pilgrim Institute’s Restoring America’s Biblical Foundations study course and it’s not a great video. But watch anyway and then leave a comment! (sub, even!)


“The Mighty Works of God: Liberty & Justice for All” review

Mrs. Smith is the founder of Pilgrim Institute. She has written a history series for home educators called “The Mighty Works of God.” I have used this myself so I feel I can give an honest review. For this review I will refer to this title as LJFA.

This is the second book in the MWOG series, intended for younger elementary ages. First off, this is not an intimidating tome. The student text is less than 200 pages and the teacher’s text is only a few pages more. It is an easy read for the students.

The teacher’s guide provides three or more lessons per chapter. Mrs. Smith has supplied a leading ides for each lesson, along with reasoning questions and a synopsis of the chapter. A CD-ROM is included with the teacher’s guide full of printable maps, notebooking pages and charts that correspond with the lessons.

If you are new to BPA it can be a terrific way to ease into a subject without having to build lessons from scratch. And if you have Mr. Rose’s book, this text corresponds with year 3 (second grade) in the chart on p. 207.

LJFA covers all of history, from creation to today. She uses the theme of liberty to connect the lessons throughout the year. I like this because it adds continuity to the lessons. There are scriptures, poetry, biographies and more sprinkled throughout the text. Many color drawings add to the enjoyment as your child reads about Moses, Marco Polo, William Penn, Jedediah Smith and more. Benjamin Franklin seems to be a favorite historical figure with children and the stories about him in this volume are inspiring and a great place to pause for a “rabbit trail.”

Why you might like this

  • She weaves a beautiful story, revealing His Story as it marches through time. It is taught from a Providential history perspective, focusing on Biblical reasoning to learn about historical individuals and events.
  • It makes history an easily teachable subject.
  • You are provided the leading ideas for each lesson.
  • It is flexible. Because there are no daily plans you can use as many lessons as you like. You aren’t left feeling as if you haven’t covered something.
  • Reflection and reasoning are supplied.
  • It inspires affection for America’s Christian history.

Why you might not like this

  • Your educational philosophy doesn’t jibe with a Biblical Principle Approach philosophy.
  • You want daily lesson plans.
  • You want literature-based history.
  • You don’t want to teach from a Christian history worldview.
  • You want a textbook.
  • You want something the child can do independently. This requires the teacher to reason alongside the student.
  • There are no tests or quizzes. (or maybe this should be in the list above!)

I enjoyed using this with my children. We learned a lot. I didn’t feel rushed through a huge lesson schedule, so we could take out time and focus on reasoning and not just facts. I was also able to teach multiple grades with this (4th and 1st). A little modification makes this easy to use with several ages at once. And because the leading ideas are supplied, I didn’t have to do a lot of preparation before we could sit at the kitchen table and talk about His Story together. It began a lot of great conversations about the why’s of history. Not “why do we need to learn this” but why people do what they do and why things happen.

5 things America got right

“I know my own principles to be pure and therefore am not ashamed of them. On the contrary, I wish them known and therefore willingly express them to everyone. They are the same I have acted on from the year 1775 to this day, and are the same, I am sure, with those of the great body of the American people.”

Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Samuel Smith, 1798

1. Separation of powers

The regular distribution of power into distinct departments; the introduction of legislative balances and checks; the institution of courts composed of judges holding their offices during good behavior; the representation of the people in the legislature by deputies of their own election… They are means, and powerful means, by which the excellences of republican government may be retained and its imperfections lessened or avoided.

Alexander Hamilton

2. Dual form of government

Seldom today do we hear mentioned one of the most unique aspects of our Constitution—our dual form of government—the state and the nation. This refers to the national-federal structure of our Constitution. There is not a country today on the face of the globe that embodies this Christian principle of government—and we ourselves have allowed it to deteriorate.

Slater, R. J., & Hall, V. M. (1975). Teaching and learning America’s Christian history (American Revolution Bicentennial ed.) (242). San Francisco: Foundation for American Christian Education.

3. Negative rights Wikipedia

The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.
— Patrick Henry

4. Religious liberty

It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.

Patrick Henry

5. Representative Republic

Modern times have discovered the only device by which the equal rights of man can be secured to wit: government by the people, acting not in person, But by representatives chosen by themselves…

Thomas Jefferson

A representative government, responsible at short intervals of election, produces the greatest sum of happiness to mankind.

Thomas Jefferson

Some thoughts on liberty

Proclaim liberty throughout the land and to all the inhabitants thereof. Leviticus 25:10

“Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  John Adams

“We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.”  James Madison

“Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.”  Thomas Jefferson

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”  Patrick Henry

“The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principals of Christianity… I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”  John Adams

“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” James Madison

We are history

History to many people seems like a dusty book that you bring out and teach your kids when you have to meet state requirements or because you “have to.” History is not that at all. It is not a stale timeline or disjointed facts from long ago. It’s alive and it’s happening all around you right now.

girlonpath3547128317_04b011457fHistory, or His Story, is going on every second the clock is ticking. Yesterday is history, is it not? History is a record of all that has happened since God created time. But it really has always been because God’s story has always been. So we focus on man’s history but really it’s God’s story.

Why do I say we are history? Because we are in time, we are God’s story, we help further His story. One day my family, if no one else, will look back on what I’ve done and hopefully they will see that I furthered His Story in some way. I want them to be able to say that I had some hand in God’s plan for mankind, that I made a difference–even in only one life.

I know God is the only one that can truly know what impact my life has had here, and I look forward to those words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” But I think there should be a trail behind me for others to follow. My history, intertwined with God’s, can lead others to the Truth long after I am gone.

Practical application of timelines

This is a guest post by JoAnne Bennett, a dear friend and mentor. She was kind enough to provide the following post and I’m so glad she did.

We will use the time line for the facts which must be memorized for that unit.  As we do an overview to introduce the unit, I emphasize that these are the most important events.  We will add other significant events as they are discovered and discuss their relation to the major events.

We usually draw separate time lines for political events and for spiritual developments during that period of history.  For literature, we will do one for the author’s life time and another for the setting of the story or the main character’s life.

photo courtesy Jon aslund

photo courtesy Jon aslund

The applications for time lines are numerous.  Perhaps the most indispensable is to show relationships between events.  One method is to use parallel time lines on the same page to  show cause and effect.  You can then draw  arrows from one line to the other to dramatize the relationship.  For example, make a line for a Washington’s life and one for the historical events of that time.  Note how the events around the man affected his attitudes and

accomplishments.  If he responded positively, the events could cause him to rise to greatness.  Point out that in every crisis God raises up a man to meet the needs of His people.

Another way to use parallel time lines is to color code specific periods or events.  When we studied the Middle Ages, we designated historic events on the basic time line.  Then we entered the periods of art and architecture as colored parallel lines: Byzantine was blue, Romanesque was red, and Gothic was yellow.  It was easy to see the political turmoil of the fifth and sixth centuries in Europe had a relationship to the simplicity of art and the elaborate adornment of the Gothic developed as prosperity came to the nobility through the feudal system.

Time lines give order and perspective to the events we study.  When we look at the “coon skin cap” and the “whale” stuck to our time line, it would be simple for even small children to reason that the time span is too wide for Jonah together.  Notice also how the important events get closer and closer together until, by the end, labels and pictures will overlap.  God is certainly moving faster as we near the end of  “the days of man.”

Another use of time lines is for periodic review.  No matter what time period we are studying, I will occasionally call for a “pop test” of  U.S. history.  This is based on a time line we did which includes crucial developments such as Columbus in 1492, Pilgrims in 1620, Revolution in 1776, Civil War in 1860′s, World War I & II, etc.  When we hear some news story which compares an event to the Great Depression, I want my children to be able to tie that to something concrete in their minds. Having them draw a time line to recall those facts has been the most efficient use of our time.  It is much faster than writing an essay question or having mother devise a fill-in-the-blanks test — and it is quicker to grade.

Take the ideas I have presented and personalize them.  Improvise!  Improve!  See how many varieties you can use!  I believe you will agree it is one of the handiest tools in your “teacher’s bag.”

JoAnne Bennett is a seasoned Biblical Principle Approach mom. She has two grown children and three grandchildren, with one more due to arrive in June 2009. Since raising her own children, she teaches and mentors other home educators. Her internalization of Biblical Principles and application of a BPA philosophy makes her an important resource for home educating moms. You can find out more about her at her Web site, Academic Advantages.

Hope for the next generation

My oldest daughter (10) entered this year’s essay contest from our state’s Christian homeschool organization. The topic was “The Role of Christians in Government.” When I saw the title I knew she just had to enter. It took a lot of prodding but I finally got a paper out of her. She typed it up, then saw that it had to be hand written, so she copied it and we put both copies in the mail. A couple of days before Capitol Day we got that all-important email: she won!

The judges thought her essay was the best one entered in any age category. They wished the high schoolers could have written as well. Here is her essay in its entirety.

According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary, the word government means “who or what is
in control.” In the Garden of Eden that Who was God, and He governed us internally. Then
sin changed things and now we need more external government. That’s where Christians
come in, offering God’ s idea of government.

One of the roles of Christians in government is to follow. Follow Jesus, that is. Always
follow your leaders unless they do not line up with God’ s Word. Be a good example to other

Another role is to pray. You need to pray for the right candidates to be elected. You
also need to pray that the leaders we have will make right choices, according to 1 Timothy
2:1&2. Prayer sometimes makes the difference between life and death.

Still another role Christians have in government is to lead. When you lead as a Christian,
you reflect God. God’s leadership is wise, consistent, righteous and just. In fact, the Bible in
Job 34:17 says that you should not lead if you don’t agree with God’ s justice.

Christians get ideas regarding government from the Bible. The Founding Fathers called
the Bible “America ’s political textbook.” Christian leaders should look to godly leaders in the
bible for insight and wisdom.

It is a great responsibility to elect our own leaders. We should vote carefully. The most
basic role of Christians in government is to show others how God wants us to live, no
matter what role we are in.

I share this not to get a pat on the back, but to demonstrate God’s faithfulness. When we instill Biblical principles in our children, they can think governmentally. It just becomes their way of thinking. I am raising the next generation of godly Christians who will hopefully lead and not blindly follow. This essay gives me much hope for America’s future.

And it was a real treat for her to win a prize for her hard work too! On Capitol Day February 10 we made a trip to Oklahoma City for her to receive her award. And when she received a copy of her citation a few days later she was over the moon. It’s a giant certificate with her essay printed in the body inside a blue folder. She will treasure it as one of her special homeschool memories. And so will I.

Where our allegiance lies

This blog is not known to be particularly involved in current events and other potentially controversial things. However I heard a bishop say something last week that convicted me.  On the radio show Janet Parshall’s America last week Bishop E.W. Jackson was on talking about his ministry and taking calls from listeners. One caller offered the idea that Jesus got down with the people and was basically okay with them being in sin. This got Bishop Jackson discussing the idea that Jesus came to love, but He didn’t come to be everyone’s friend. He came to divide (Matt. 10:34). He said the following challenging statement:

Christians have got to learn there is no way getting around the potential for persecution and people not liking what you have to say when you stand up for Jesus Christ…We owe our first loyalty to Him. He is our savior and our Lord and it is Him we are trying to please.         (emphasis mine)

Well said, Bishop Jackson.

What would He has me do? What would He have me say? Where would He have me go? I owe my first loyalty to Him, not to my ego or my  friends or even my family. Pleasing Him should be my only concern.

In this new age of “tolerance” it seems that the only point of view that is not tolerated is God’s. I can say I am too often intimidated by the potential backlash, so I refrain from speaking strongly for Christ and His principles. That will change as of today. I encourage you to make the decision this year to care less about what people think and more about what Jesus would want you to do. Speak the truth in love and let God receive all the glory. It is Him alone we strive to please.

Commonplace books

In my studies recently I happened upon a type of “notebooking” that was fascinating. It combines two of my favorite things–notebooks and traditional books (which I happen to be passionate about making!). I am such a book geek that I had to learn more.

Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines it as:

Commonplace-book, a book in which are registered such facts, opinions or observations as are deemed worthy of notice or remembrance, so disposed that any one may be easily found. Hence common-place as used as an epithet to denote what is common or often repeated, or trite; as a commonplace observation.

It’s taking a topic, such as sewing, literature, a branch of science or cooking and creating your own special book about it. It may include tables or charts, definitions, clippings, quotes, measurements or your observations. Some well known commonplacers included Thomas Jefferson, John Locke and Ben Franklin.  Jonathan Edwards also kept a commonplace book. 

Read more here here and here.

Some modern uses for commonplacing may be for remodeling your home, landscaping or gardening, scrapbooking, reading an important literary work, fiction writing or Bible study. They can be invaluable resources for a life full of learning. And they can become treasures that your kids can fight over after your funeral!

 And of course, I will endeavor to make some commonplace books that are uncommon. If you are interested in a unique commonplace book customized to your special topic, please contact me for details and I’ll make a one of a kind commonplace book you will treasure for years to come. anna at annahawthorne dot com

Anna Hawthorne Studios

The Breeches Bible

We have been studying about the Geneva Bible this week in HisStory. When we were discussing it Princess S said, “This is really fun!” Go figure! She loves hands-on stuff (like every other kid on the planet). I’m just glad she enjoyed it.

You can see scans of the entire Geneva Bible online here. Princess G liked reading it because it was so different that what she’s used to. She was surprisingly good at reading it too!

The Geneva Bible sprang from persecution in England. Bloody Mary banned the printing of English scriptures, so many Reformers fled to Geneva. There, among contemporary scholars like Calvin and Foxe, they created this version of the Bible. More on the history of the text can be found in nice, concise form here.

We discussed the impact of the Geneva Bible on us in America today and here’s the paragraph she wrote about it:
The Pilgrims used this Bible. They got their idea for government from the Bible and passed them down to the Founding Fathers. This Bible was important in our country’s birth.
We talked about how this Bible is important to her because there would be no America without it. The Bible in the hands of the people always brings liberty. God’s Providence allowed Scriptures to be brought to America’s shores and into our homes.
“For forty years after the publication of the King James Bible, the Geneva Bible continued to be the Bible of the home.”
This version was beloved by the Pilgrims, the founding fathers and even the Army (Oliver Cromwell used excerpts for the soldiers’ pocket Bibles). Other interesting facts about it:

  • it was the first Bible to break the text into verses
  • it was the first study Bible, with extensive notes
  • it was quoted by Shakespeare
  • it’s about 90% the same text as Tyndale’s 1384 version from the original Greek and Hebrew.
  • it was printed in Roman typeface for easy (?) reading
  • the King James version is about 90% the same text as this version

…and why is it called “the Breeches Bible?” See the Geneva Bible Gen. 3:7.