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Statesmanship, Shurley Grammar, Secret of the Scribe

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, August 11, 2008

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 9 No 64 August 11, 2008
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2008 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!
If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!




Notes from Heather
-- Statesmanship for Students
Helpful Tip
-- How Shurely Grammar Works
Resource Review
-- Secret of the Scribe
Reader Question
-- Picture Book for Homeschooling?
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Statesmanship for Students

This summer my 2 oldest sons got to enjoy a few weeks of hard
work, fellowship and fun at Student Statesmanship Institute in
Lansing, Michigan. At SSI, high school age students participate
in different "tracks", starting with mock legislature (actually
sitting in the seats of our Michigan representatives and senators)
the first year, then being able to choose from business, mock
trial, moot court, and media in subsequent years. This year
Carman did one week of the Senate track and Ben did 2 weeks - one
for business track and then mock trial. They both came together
to participate in the media track the final week.

Student Statesmanship Institute invites participants from all
over the country for 3 different week-long sessions each summer,
and I encourage local homeschoolers to use this great opportunity
to fill out their child's homeschool transcript with government,
civics, journalism and more. It is really an incredible hands-on
adventure for young people!

I intend to write more about this program and how it hones
leadership skills and offers excellent Christian worldview
education, but right now I want to share the video that the media
team made which features my oldest, Ben, as a news anchor. It
has its share of silliness, but he also got to interview our
standing Secretary of State, Terry Lynn Land. Proud mom plug
here! :-)

Here is the link to the video:


(Choose "SSI Action News Week Three Wednesday Broadcast")

For more info on Student Statesmanship Institute, visit their


If you know of a similar opportunity in YOUR state or province,
please write and let me know about it!


Do you have comments to share? Please do!
Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net


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Helpful Tip

Kudos for Shurley Grammar... and How it Works

"I've used Shurley Grammar for my 3 kids since the eldest was
in 2nd grade, and it's very effective and thorough. The whole
thing operates on a premise that you use a question and answer
flow to remember the parts of speech, the patterns of sentences,
etc. For instance, the sentence:

*He gave me a red rose.*

You would ask these questions -

Who gave? *He*. Subject pronoun.
What is being said about he? He *gave*. Verb.
Gave what? *Rose*. Direct object.
What kind of rose? *Red*. Adjective.
Gave rose to whom? *Me*. Indirect object.

Then, *subject noun* (even though it's a pronoun, it meets the
'every complete sentence must have a subject' criteria), *verb,
direct object, indirect object, Pattern 3.*

By learning how to do the question and answer 'flow' through
repetitive practice, it becomes second nature to recognize
parts of speech, sentence patterns, etc.

Along with learning the parts of speech and the sentence
patterns, children learn about past, present, future tenses,
and how one has to have noun-verb agreement, synonyms, homonyms
antonyms, capitalization and punctuation rules, how to write a
complete paragraph, then essay, vocabulary, and the list goes on.

But before you get overwhelmed just thinking about it, it really
only takes a good 15-25 minutes per day, depending on what is
being learned, reviewed, or written for that day. Once you
learn the question and answer flow, everything else falls in
line. And, don't forget that you can always adapt the program
to your family's needs.

Shurley Method/Grammar recommends starting early so that the
student is finished with the program by the end of the 7th
grade, but I don't think that starting in the 6th grade would
be a real hindrance. When I was in school (way back when!)
a lot of the grammar material wasn't learned until the late
elementary/jr. high years. I think that each year the same
material is laid out, and then 'new' material is added incre-
mentally per year. So if your 6th grader is new to Shurley,
he/she would learn everything old as well as the 'new' material,
if that makes sense.

I would say, by way of recommendation, though, that as a home-
schooler for 13 years, this is one curriculum that I've been
completely happy to use year after year. With some programs,
I've searched time and again for something that just 'works'.
Math? Yes, changed curriculum. Spelling? Changed it. Foreign
language? Tried more than a few. Shurley Grammar is one of
the ones I've held onto, and haven't felt the need to find
something better."

-- Christine B., Homeschooling Gifted email group member



Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Resource Review

Secret of the Scribe - An Historical Novel for Engaging Thinkers
Author: Jennifer Johnson Garrity
For more info or to buy: www.BrimWoodPress.com
It is hard, if not impossible, to find GOOD literature set in
ancient Sumer. So I was thrilled to learn of a new book published
by the terrific (and Christian) BrimWood Press. "Secret of the
Scribe" by Jennifer Johnson Garrity is a beautifully written novel
for 9 – 12 year olds about a young slave girl in the palace of a
Sumerian queen. When a terrifying event changes her life she must
flee all she knows and loves to survive on her own in the city of
 Ur. Skillfully weaving an exciting plot line while all the while
bringing Sumeria and its culture to life is no easy task, but Garrity
succeeds. I learned much about what it might have been like to live
at that time, while enjoying every minute of storyline.

One aspect of the novel I am especially pleased with is the author's
handling of the false religions of the Sumerians. The many gods
and goddesses worshiped by these people figure prominently in the
book, but Garrity's protagonist winds up questioning their reality.
She hears among the market stalls references to another religion,
one that only worships one God. There is a subtle reference to
Abraham - a man and his family who left Ur to follow this God.
This book would make a lovely addition to any home library with its
quality paper, lovely illustrations, professional design, and mostly
because of the Godly and rich story.

(Users of The Mystery of History Vol 1 can use this as a reader
during quarter one.)

Purchase at www.BrimWoodPress.com - and while you are on their
website, check out the other 3 novels in this series. Although I
have not read them yet I am impressed enough with the first novel
that I will soon be ordering the rest! (FYI - Marcia Brim also has a
terrific Worldview curriculum for this same middle-grades age group.)

  -- Maggie Hogan, Bright Ideas Press

Last Issue's Reader Question

"We have 4 boys (15, 13, 4, 2).  The older two are in public
school, but we are planning on homeschooling the younger ones.
  The 4 year old has been talking about 'going' to school for about
a year.  He sees his older brothers going, the school bus, the
school building (the playground!), etc.  The library is full of
books about the first day of school for public schooling.  Does
anyone know of a book about being homeschooled for a child his
age?  Is there such a thing?" -- Lacey 

Our Readers' Responses

"Hi Lacey -- Haven't heard of any books about the first day of
homeschool, but we try to make it fun. We do the usual shopping
for school supplies, buy a new article of clothing (since we
aren't in need of a whole new wardrobe), set the clocks, etc.
We start with the pledge, prayer, and maybe a game to get us
excited. I think if you talk it up enough, he'll be excited.
Maybe you and your son could write a book about your first day
of homeschool experience!" -- Noreen


"Lacey, My son recently did the same thing.  We babysit a little
boy who began kindergarten this summer.  He has a cool backpack,
a neat lunchbox, and rides a huge yellow bus to my front door.
  My soon-to-be seven year old son looked at me and said, 'Public
school, huh?  Do they have second grade there?  Then sign me up
for THAT!'
Needless to say, it was an interesting afternoon... but he finally
gave up begging around dinner time.  It isn't easy for him to
understand, but as I gently explained all the things he would miss,
like Chess Club, homeschool football league, etc., most of which
we get through our support group, he understood that what we do
is different, but still good.  My son has enjoyed experiences with
other kids who do what he does.  I applaud your search for a book to
support your decision, and as a way to present what you want to your
children, but I also recommend that you investigate homeschooling
groups in your are to see if you can involve your younger children
in activities that include other families that homeschool.  Our
local group invites prospective homeschoolers to join and partici-
pate in general activites, like kickoff, end of year, bowling day,
and so forth, to get a feel for the process and community to which
you will one day belong." -- Anne


"Maybe you could make your own book to show him what to expect. You
could use photos of your older children in the home demonstrating
them doing 'school work' or you could adapt a book that is already
on the market about regular school. I bet changing the words is
just about all you'd have to do. If the book has photos of people
getting on the bus, maybe you could change the words to, 'While the
rest of the neighborhood gets on the school bus to find their way
to school, you're already there!'


"We own 'Kandoo Kangaroo Hops into Homeschool' by Susan Ratner,
and my 4-year-old daughter really enjoyed it." -- Mindy


"I have seen such a thing. It talks of a child sitting at the
kitchen table and having school with her mother, but I have no
idea where or when I saw it. You might try searching at amazon.com
under homeschooling. But it could have been an e-book I saw on the
net somewhere.

What has worked for me is this: when I have a child (I have 6 -
only 2 at home) who needs to work through an issue, we write our
own book. Over the years we have written:

NOEL IS ALLERGIC TO PIZZA (He is now 29, but still remembers the

WE USED TO LIVE IN SOUTH DAKOTA (We moved to Okinawa, Japan and
Grandma sent us a labeled photo album.)


In the simplest form, you write one or two sentences at the bottom
of the page and someone illustrates the top or you can put in pic-
tures of your own or from a magazine. The benefits of writing with
the child is that you find out what he really is concerned about."
-- Carol H. and boys

Answer our NEW Question

"I would like to find a free typing tutor to help my child;
would anyone have one they would recommend? My daughter has
tremors and her hands shake, so I would like to find an easy
one for her.  Thanks to all." -- Sharon


Do you have a suggestion for Sharon and her daughter?

Please send your answer to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

Ask YOUR Question

Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if we can help you out in a future issue!

     Need Immediate Help?

  Visit our Homeschool Encouragement Center!  This is a live 24/7
  'chat' area where you can talk live to our homeschool counselors
  by typing in a box.  When you get there, just introduce yourself
  and let them know that Heather sent you!

  This ultra-safe chat is supervised by experienced moms who are
  there to serve and share their wisdom... or just offer a listening
  ear and encouragement.


  [Note:  This ministry is especially for Christian parents, but
all are welcome.  Email Luanne@educationforthesoul.com if you
have any technical difficulties.]

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