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The February 12 issue is out!
Read the all new interactive-digital edition of the trade magazine for homeschool moms FREE!


Click here to read the magazine and view  a number of videos. Watch a message from Paul and Gena and kids on page 3; find out who TOS Magazine's leading sponsor is for 2012!


TOS February 2012

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"I so much appreciate receiving these "minutes"! They take a short time to browse through, and I am almost always left with a good 'take-away' thought to chew on. I enjoy the good ideas and insights, and always the encouragement from Todd to enjoy life and not feel guilty or overwhelmed or pressured."


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The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine


February 1, 2012

Can I Teach Literature?


Deborah's  Picture
Deborah Wuehler and family


Literature: What is it, and how do you teach it?


Webster's definition: Literature (1): writings in prose or verse; especially: writings having excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest.


What we should glean from that definition is that the literature we choose or allow our children to choose should be excellent in form or expression, and, I would add, in agreement with our own family values. There is a lot of junk out there, so I always carefully monitor what the children are reading to make sure it is excellent. I also have the children analyze the literature for the worldview that is presented, or I talk about what views are presented as I read aloud.


You can build a desire in your child for excellent literature by making sure you expose them to it even when they are very young. If they are not old enough to read it themselves with comfort, then you read aloud or obtain the audio version. You don't want to wait until they are old enough to read it for themselves, but get it in as early as possible. Choose literature geared toward your older children and even the younger ones will pick up the meanings of words in context, and they will also increase their vocabulary.


I have two lists here: favorite read-alouds we've done and language arts books or curriculum we have used.


Here are a few of our favorite read-alouds over the years:


Christian biographies of great men and women of faith

Wisdom and the Millers series

Hive of Busy Bees

Lamplighter books (Basket of Flowers, Christie's Old Organ, etc.)

Daughters of Destiny (short stories of courageous women in history)

Where the Red Fern Grows

Little House on the Prairie series and Farmer Boy

Uncle Tom's Cabin

C.S. Lewis works

G.A. Henty historical fiction

Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan

Little Women and others by Louisa May Alcott

Treasures in the Snow and others by Patricia St. John


Literature and language arts books or curriculum we have used, in age order:


Pathways readers and workbooks

Bob Jones BookLinks

YWAM Heroes of History and Christian biographies

Total Language Plus (classics and workbooks)

A Beka literature (Themes in Literature, Of People, Of Places)


And, above all else, don't forget to read the Bible aloud to the kids, and while you're at it, stop and talk about it. The history and classic stories and poetry and wisdom included here far outweigh any other classic. This is the best learning for life.



See-N-Read® Reading Intervention Tools (U.S. patent #7,954,444) help readers see, focus, and remember text while reading. Reduces word and line skipping, helps readers keep their place and focus on content, enhancing fluency and comprehension. Research-based and tested. Endorsed by neuropsychologists and reading specialists. Made in U.S.A. (630) 236 5592 


THE TOS app is now available FREE--for Android or Apple devices!


Congregate atTOS APP TOS for homeschool motivation galore--any time, any place! 

The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine app serves up a banquet of interactive information for homeschoolers. Devour a steady diet of wisdom, curriculum recommendations and helpful ideas freshly prepared by experienced home educators. Nourish your mind and soul with ideas, resources, and motivation and make this your most satisfying homeschool year ever. 


Download either the Android app or the Apple app. Experience the magazine, then write a review and tell us what you think. We'd love to get your opinion.



is now the 2012 lead sponsor for 

The Old Schoolhouse. 


TOS and are working together to bring 44,000 homeschool resources to your family.


Now you will be getting coupons, sales notices, and other information directly from CBD from time to time--a great way to save on your curriculum costs. The Suarezes and many staff at TOS have shopped Christian Book for years, and they are sure that you'll love finding excellent deals there too. Watch your inbox (and catalogs by mail) for more information and special offers from CBD.  


Relax, Enjoy, Aspire, Learn Spanish! Let R.E.A.L. Homeschool Spanish teach you and your family how to learn Spanish and interact in fun and interesting ways. Includes an easy-to-use curriculum with Home Educator Tips, Daily Planning Guide, Idea Sections for Spanish use outside of class time, Activity Book and audio. 




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Hey from Gena 

Gena Suarez
Gena Suarez

Gena Suarez, Publisher of TOS     


Gena is taking a break to concentrate on magazine business. Veteran homeschool parents will be filling in for her from time to time. This week's article is by Janice Campbell. Janice the graduated homeschool mom of four sons and the author of Excellence in Literature, a self-directed, five-year curriculum for grades 8 through 12. Visit her blog at for more articles on teaching literature and writing.




Janice Campbell


"Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it.

It . . . irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become."

- C.S. Lewis

Teaching literature can seem a daunting challenge if you've not studied it yourself, but the truth is, even if you don't know Virginia Woolf from Beowulf, you can share great literature with your children. The key is to understand that literature, like every other subject, is best begun simply. The first and best foundation for literature study is lots and lots of reading aloud (and/or audiobooks), beginning in infancy.  


No matter what age student you are working with, teaching literature is a matter of making connections and understanding meanings. When you read aloud to an infant, you point at words and pictures and emphasize the connection between meaning, letters, sound, and image. When you teach literature to older students, you study connections between the big idea of the narrative (the theme) and the plot, setting, and characters.   


It may seem simple to make connections for a short story such as The Three Little Pigs, but it can be more challenging for longer works. The easiest way to unravel a story, poem, nonfiction text, or play is to see it in the context the author intended. Before your student begins to read, use an encyclopedia or online resources to discover something about the book's author and the cultural and historic context in which he or she was writing. You can see a sample of how this is done at   


As you read and discuss literature with your children, remember that literature is an art, not a science. There is rarely only one theme in a piece of literature, and in a work such as Les Miserables, readers may disagree on whether the theme is justice, love, forgiveness, or something else. As long as the reader can make a convincing argument backed by evidence from the text to support his position, the interpretation can be acceptable.   


Great literature is much more than great stories. Reading literature improves vocabulary, teaches cultural literacy and critical thinking, models great writing, improves test scores, and offers a window into other lives, times, and cultures. Begin where you are and read with your children every day, and you'll find that you're teaching literature all along the way.   


"Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting."

-Edmund Burke

~Janice Campbell



Note from Gena:


Hey everyone, we are looking for some good writers to join our Schoolhouse Star Contributors Team (Schoolhouse Writers Group). It's a volunteer position but has some incredible perks (like access to all the TOS e-products--you'll need them for review) as well as the occasional Starbucks coffee gift certificate and always credit/byline/bio for your writings. Email with STAR in the subject line if you are interested. Hope to hear from you!


Artistic Nature Magazine is more than just an enjoyable experience-it teaches art principles and nature science in fun, motivational ways. The editor, Joymarie, offers unique, easy, and effective methods to teach kids art, with detailed nature coloring pages and careful art instructions for each picture. Subscribe today at www.LightHome.Net!


The Familyman
Todd Wilson
Todd WIlson

Todd Wilson, Familyman Ministries  


Can you teach literature? Does a one-legged duck swim in a circle? Of course you can teach literature. Actually, I think literature can teach itself. All you need to do is read, read, and read to your child and get your child to the point where she can read herself . . . and then turn her loose.


If you let your kids read (and read out loud to them), they'll learn all kinds of things about life, God, and people. With the right books, they'll visit Narnia, listen to Pa play his fiddle, hear the snort of the black stallion, feel the fright of sighting the big white whale, and stand amazed when Jesus heals a man who was born blind.


About the only thing you can do wrong in literature is to teach it like the literature "experts" say to teach it. If you reduce it to who is the protagonist, what is the meter, or name the themes throughout the story . . . you'll ruin the whole literature experience. Plus you'll kill the love of reading.


So just give them good books, let them read, get out of the way . . . and leave the protagonist to the antagonist.


Be real,



FYI: Speaking of great literature, my son Sam (16) just animated the epic battle of GODZILLA vs. THE FAMILYMANI hope you enjoy it.


Creation Revolution 


State fairs are notorious for serving fried foods on a stick. If you are a frequent fairgoer, you've probably seen just about any type of food imaginable sold attached to a stick. There's one you've probably never seen, though: Stomach-on-a-Stick.

Actually this isn't a weird or exotic food. It is a strange-looking creature found only in fossils. Learn more about this interesting animal in the article "Stomach-on-a-Stick."
Homeschool Blogger Free Classes
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Historical Timeline of English Spelling


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Contest Corner 

For the month of February, 2012  


The Crossmaker


This DVD features a grandfather telling his grandchildren stories about Jesus. The backdrop for the stories is a marvelous artist doing chalk drawings of Jesus and scenes from the stories. There are two stories: The Crossmaker and Jesus Loves the Children. The Crossmaker is about a little boy whose family makes crosses. He delivers the one to be used for Jesus and witnesses the crucifixion. He is crushed by guilt for his part but he meets the resurrected Jesus on the road and finds forgiveness and love. Jesus Loves the Children is the familiar Bible story about the disciples telling the children to leave Jesus alone, but Jesus tells them to let the children come to Him.


The background music is wonderful, and the chalk illustrations are spectacular. But there is much more on this DVD! There are more chalk drawing demonstrations and even a teaching session showing children step-by-step how to make their own chalk drawings. (...)


Read the rest of the review here.


Win this resource for your family!



Email Deb with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line, "Crossmaker" for a chance to win* this great resource!

2011-12 Schoolhouse Planners  

*Disclaimer and Legal Notice:
The Old Schoolhouse
® Magazine, LLC ("Company") is sponsoring the February Contest Corner contest running from February 1, 2012, to February 29, 2012. You must be 18 years of age or older and follow all rules to participate. Entering the contest constitutes full and complete acceptance of, and a warranty that the entrant has read, understands and agrees to, all contest terms and conditions, including without limitation all of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC Contest Rules ("Official Rules") and The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine Writer Guidelines and Terms and Conditions for Submitting Queries. All Official Rules apply. Entry also constitutes full consent and unlimited permission for Company to print, publish, broadcast and use all intellectual property and personal information submitted as part of the Contest entry on the Internet and in any and all Company publications in accordance with the Rules. Entries become the sole property of Company and will not be returned. Employees and independent contractors of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, Contest sponsors, individuals or entities furnishing Contest prizes and their family members may not participate in this contest. Company reserves the sole, discretionary right to determine contest winners and to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend the contest or the Rules at any time with or without notice or cause, subject to applicable law. See Official Rules for details.

No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law.

For a full copy of the Official Rules, please send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to The Old Schoolhouse
® Magazine: Official Rules Request, PO Box 8426, Gray, TN 37615