Trivium Pursuit

Pilgrim’s Progress — The Swamp of Despond

September 21st, 2017

The Swamp of Despond by John Bunyan audio

The Swamp of Despond by John Bunyan read-along text

Now I saw in my dream, that just as they had ended this talk, they drew near to a very miry swamp, which was in the midst of the plain; and they, not paying attention, fell suddenly into the bog. The name of the swamp was Despond. Here, therefore, they wallowed for a time, being greatly smeared with filth. Christian, because of the burden which was on his back — began to sink in the mire.

Then Pliable cried out, “Ah! Christian, where are we now?”

Bunyan Pliable

“Truly,” said Christian, “I do not know!”

Being offended, Pliable angrily said to his companion, “Is this the happiness you have told me of? If we have such trouble at our first setting out — what may we expect before our journey’s end? If I can get out of here with my life — you can have your noble country without me!”

And with that, Pliable, after a desperate struggle — got out of the mire on that side of the swamp which was nearest to his own house. So away he went — and Christian saw him no more.

So Christian was left in the Swamp of Despond alone; but he still struggled toward that side of the swamp which was furthest from his own house, and closest to the narrow-gate. But he could not get out, because of the heavy burden which was upon his back.

Bunyan Christian still endeavored to struggle to that side of the slough that was farthest from his own house

I then beheld in my dream, that a man came to him, whose name was Help, and asked him what he was doing there.

“Sir,” Christian said, “I was told to go this way by a man called Evangelist, who directed me to yonder narrow-gate, that I might escape the wrath to come. And as I was going — I fell into this swamp!”

“But why did you not look for the steps?” asked Help.

“As I was hurrying along — I fell in!” replied Christian.

“Then,” said Help, “give me your hand!”

So Christian reached out his hand, and Help drew him out of the mire, set him upon solid ground, and bid him to continue on his way.


Then Christian turned to Help and said, “Sir, why is it — since the way from the City of Destruction, to yonder narrow-gate is over this swamp — that this bog is not mended, so that poor Pilgrims might travel there more safely?”

Help then explained to Christian, “This miry swamp is a place which cannot be mended. It is the pit where the scum and filth which attend conviction for sin, continually runs — and therefore it is called the Swamp of Despond. For as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there arises in his soul many fears, and doubts, and discouragements — which all settle in this place. This is the reason why the swamp remains so foul.

“It is not the pleasure of the King, that this place should remain so bad. His laborers have long been, by the directions of His Majesty, employed to mend this patch of ground. Yes, and to my knowledge, millions of wholesome instructions have, at all seasons, been brought from everywhere in the King’s dominions, to help mend it. These are the best materials to make this place into solid ground — if it could have been mended. But it remains the Swamp of Despond still — and so will it ever remain — even when they have done all that can be done.

“True, there are, by the direction of the Law-giver, certain good and sturdy steps, placed through the very midst of this swamp. But at such times, this place spews out so much of its filth — that these steps are hardly seen. Or if they are seen, men may become dizzy, miss the steps — and fall into the mire!”

Now I saw in my dream, that, by this time, Pliable had reached home, and his neighbors came to visit him. Some of them called him a wise man for coming back; and some called him a fool for attempting such a hazardous journey. Others mocked him for his cowardliness, saying, “Surely, since you began the venture — you should not have been so weak as to have given up because of a few difficulties.”

So Pliable was ashamed, and began to sneak around among them. But eventually he gained more courage — and his neighbors then began to ridicule him behind his back.


The Ron Paul Curriculum has two different phonics courses

September 14th, 2017


The Ron Paul Curriculum has two different phonics courses.

1. Kindergarten Introduction to Phonics taught by Cheryl Page

This free kindergarten phonics program is an introduction to phonics curriculum. It’s not a complete phonics curriculum.

Each lesson is video-based, with instructions for the mothers on how to teach basic phonics to their children. All the worksheets needed are provided as printable PDFs on the lesson pages.

Each phonics lesson is designed for you and your child to complete at your own pace — generally about one week is expected.

2. A 3-year reading/phonics curriculum taught by Barbara Pickard

The first 40 lessons of the first year are free. These free introductory videos let you test the Ron Paul Curriculum’s reading program, which is a 3-year program. Ms. Piickard does the teaching. You do the encouraging and evaluating.

If this trial run works for you and your child, you can sign up for the rest of the first-year course: 140 additional lessons.

The videos do the heavy lifting. All you have to do is go to the daily lesson, click the video’s PLAY button, and observe how your child does.

Also, you must print out the work sheets, and hand them to your child. Then grade them.

Each day a new letter sound or combination will be introduced. Blending sounds into new words, lesson by lesson, will increase your student’s reading vocabulary.

Along with phonics skills, your student will receive directed handwriting lessons.

As the homeschool teacher, you will have to boot up the site daily and watch the videos with your child. These lessons lead students toward self-teaching. By the end of grade 3, you will be able to turn most of the instruction over to the teacher and your child, who will work as a team.

When you have finished the free trial lessons, you can order the rest of the course here.


The Scottish Chiefs and a Battle Against Nation-Building

September 11th, 2017
Post may contain affiliate links to materials I recommend. Read my full disclosure statement.

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Here we have a thirteenth-century Scotland overrun by tyrants — English soldiers doing the bidding of their King Edward who was bent on nation-building and greed.

Here we have a freedom-minded people who acknowledge none but the laws of God and their own country, and will never submit to a tyrant’s law.

“I am Sir William Wallace’s wife,” returned the gentle Marion, in a firm tone, “and by what authority you seek him thus, and presume to call him guilty, I cannot understand.”

“By the authority of the laws, madam, which he has violated.”

“What laws?” rejoined she, “Sir William Wallace acknowledges none but those of God and his country. Neither of these has he transgressed.”

The officer replied, “This night he assassinated Arthur Heselrigge in the streets of Lanark; and that condemns him, by the last declaration of King Edward: Whatever Scot maltreats any one of the English soldiers, or civil officers garrisoned in the towns of Scotland, shall thereby forfeit his life, as the penalty of his crime.“

“A tyrant’s law, sir, to which no free-born Scot will submit! But even were it allowed by my countrymen, in this case it can have no hold on my husband…”

The Lady Marion stands up for her man, her country, and her God.

Oh, poor Marion! And even more, poor Wallace, when he finds out what those soldiers do to try and destroy his life — and all for the defense of an evil king bent on nation-building and greed.

“What is it you intend, my lord?” cried Halbert, viewing with increased alarm the resolute ferocity which now, blazing from every part of his countenance, seemed to dilate his figure with more than mortal daring. “What can you do? Your single arm –”

“I am not single — God is with me. I am His avenger. Now tremble, tyranny! I come to hurl thee down!…remember that God armeth the patriot’s hand….Heaven has heard me devote myself to work our country’s freedom or to die. Who will follow me in so just a cause?”

The Scottish Chiefs by Jane Porter, a somewhat romantic piece of historical fiction, is the story of Scotland’s patriot William Wallace and his fight against the hated English King Edward, set in the late 1200s. If you can, buy the edition that is illustrated by N.C. Wyeth. After you read The Scottish Chiefs, read G. A. Henty’s version of this time period — In Freedom’s Cause — and compare the two versions.

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The Scottish Chiefs is considered by some to be a difficult read — complex sentences and advanced vocabulary. If it seems too hard at first, persevere through the first 50 pages before giving up. You’ll probably find you like it, and your family will benefit from reading it to the end. The movie Braveheart is based on The Scottish Chiefs.

This book is now out of print and can be found on various public domain sites.


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Don’t Overwhelm the Young Ones

September 11th, 2017
Post may contain affiliate links to materials I recommend. Read my full disclosure statement.


Don’t Overwhelm the Young Ones
by Ron Paul

Here is a great article on The Homeschool Mom site. It warns against this: “Too Much, Too Fast, and for Too Long.” It was written by Jeanne Falconer.

This is good advice:

“Rethink the ‘jump in full force’ approach and ease into homeschooling.

“Many experienced homeschoolers begin each year with one subject and add in additional subjects over a period of weeks. This gives homeschooled kids and their little brothers and sisters a chance to transition to homeschooling. Parents, too, then have more reasonable expectations. They can see if they are going to need more tricks in the bag for entertaining a toddler or caring for a baby while helping older children learn. Parents also have the opportunity to get supplies or adjust to homeschooling during nap time or on a schedule they did not anticipate during the optimistic planning phase of homeschooling.

“Many other experienced homeschoolers begin with a few days of homeschooling per week, or they limit themselves to very short homeschooling sessions each day. Experienced homeschoolers might start a kindergarten child with fifteen or twenty minutes. That’s each day, folks.”

This is why my curriculum limits grades 1-3 to reading and arithmetic. That’s plenty if the child really masters the material.

I also recommend not overwhelming any child in grades 4-5 with more courses than the child can handle. Drop a course for a few weeks if the child is having trouble. The child will catch up.

If you skip summer vacations, your child will get through everything by age 16. Then the child can take 10 CLEP exams and enter college as a junior at age 18 . . . for $2,000 in exam fees. There is no hurry.


Homeschool Basics Ebook Free Plus Ebook of Your Choice

September 11th, 2017


Homeschool Basics: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style

FREE for 3 Days

This 43-page ebook is an excerpt from the book Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn

The ebook lays out a suggested course of study and guidelines for teaching children below age ten.

You can purchase the ebook on Amazon for $1.99, but from September 12-14 you can download the ebook for free, plus receive another Trivium Pursuit ebook. See details below.

Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style is not just about classical education — it gives a workable plan for every subject and for every age which avoids homeschool burnout.

Some of the distinctives of Teaching the Trivium include:

–an emphasis on reading aloud to your children
–studying logic from ages ten through high school, rather than using it as a one or two year supplement
–ancient literature from a Christian perspective
–why INFORMAL math or grammar before age ten may be a better choice
–how to give your children the tools they need to teach themselves
–how to continue using other approaches to homeschooling within the framework of classical education

Sign up for the Homeschooling with the Trivium newsletter — each newsletter contains freebies, book reviews, Homeschooling Q & A, read-aloud suggestions, tips on teaching Latin, Greek, and logic, and contests with book-giveaways.

Here is the special offer:

On September 12-14 (these three days only) the ebook will be free. In addition, if you download the ebook sometime during the three day period and write an Amazon review, we’ll send you one of the ebooks from the Trivium Pursuit catalog (in PDF format). You can choose one ebook from the following:

Vocabulary Bridges from English to Latin & Greek by Harvey Bluedorn

A Review of English Grammar for Students of Biblical Greek and Other Ancient Languages by Harvey Bluedorn

Cómo Enseñar el Trivium — Educación Cristiana en Casa en un Estilo Clásico by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn

Ancient Literature — Significant Excerpts From the Books of Classical Authors Which You Can Use to Supplement Your History Curriculum — Volume One: Julius Caesar

Ancient Literature — Significant Excerpts From the Books of Classical Authors Which You Can Use to Supplement Your History Curriculum — Volume Two: Alexander the Great

Ancient Literature — Significant Excerpts From the Books of Classical Authors Which You Can Use to Supplement Your History Curriculum — Volume Three: Augustus, Jesus Christ, and Tiberius

Ancient Literature — Significant Excerpts From the Books of Classical Authors Which You Can Use to Supplement Your History Curriculum — Volume Four: Ancient Egypt

Ancient Literature — Significant Excerpts From the Books of Classical Authors Which You Can Use to Supplement Your History Curriculum — Volume Five: Caligula, Claudius, and Paul

Ancient Literature — Significant Excerpts from the Books of Classical Authors Which You Can Use to Supplement Your History Curriculum — Volume Six: Nero, Paul, and the Destruction of Jerusalem

Trivium Pursuit’s List of National Contests and Exams Open to Homeschoolers

What Do You See? A Child’s First Introduction to Art, Volume One by Laurie Bluedorn


After you download Homeschool Basics: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style and post your review on Amazon, send an email to with the name you wrote your review under and the title of the ebook you would like.


Apply logic to history — Critical Thinking in United States History

September 5th, 2017
Post may contain affiliate links to materials I recommend. Read my full disclosure statement.

The 4-Volume Critical Thinking in United States History Series teaches students how to apply logic to history by analyzing and evaluating primary sources and questioning how to discern the reliability of historical texts. I consider this curriculum to be one of the top ten best resources we used over our homeschooling years.

A separate Instruction/Answer Guide is included with each volume.

Colonies to Constitution, Book 1
Table of Contents

New Republic to Civil War, Book 2
Table of Contents

Reconstruction to Progressivism, Book 3
Table of Contents

Spanish American War to Vietnam War, Book 4
Table of Contents

The publisher Critical Thinking Company only carries the ebook and CD versions. The book version must be obtained on Amazon, and in the book version the Answer Guide is a separate book.


Words to brighten up your September

September 2nd, 2017


• adumbrate = to give an incomplete or faint outline or indication of something; to give a vague indication or warning of something to come

• allegation = an assertion, especially relating to wrongdoing or misconduct on somebody’s part, that has yet to be proved or supported by evidence

• apophasis = the rhetorical device of alluding to something by denying that it will be mentioned, as in “I will not bring up the question of age now that you are forty”

• chortle = a noisy gleeful laugh

• cynical = distrustful of human nature, doubting or contemptuous of human nature or the motives, goodness, or sincerity of others

• dogma = a belief or set of beliefs that a group holds to be true

• dragoon = VERB: to involve somebody in an activity against his or her will, or force somebody to do something; to persecute or subjugate somebody using military troops; NOUN: in European armies of the 17th and 18th centuries, a mounted infantryman armed with a carbine; in armies of the late 18th and 19th centuries, a cavalryman, especially a heavily armed cavalryman

• ectomorph = tall thin person, somebody who belongs to a physiological type that is tall with long lean limbs

• empiricism = the application of observation and experiment, and not theory, in determining something; the philosophical belief that all knowledge is derived from the experience of the senses

• epitomize = to exemplify, to be a highly representative example of a type, class, or characteristic; to summarize, to write a brief summary of a piece of writing

• groke = to understand something completely by intuition

• hegemony = control or dominating influence by one person or group, especially by one political group over society or one nation over others

• intransigent = unyielding, stubbornly or unreasonably refusing even to consider changing a decision or attitude

• ironic = deliberately stating the opposite of the truth, usually with the intention or result of being amusing; involving a surprising or apparently contradictory fact

• isolationist = a government policy based on the belief that national interests are best served by avoiding economic and political alliances with other countries

• lacunae = a gap or place where something is missing, e.g. in a manuscript or a line of argument

• manifesto = a public written declaration of principles, policies, and objectives, especially one issued by a political movement or candidate

• materialism = the philosophical theory that physical matter is the only reality and that psychological states such as emotions, reason, thought, and desire will eventually be explained as physical functions

• mordant = sharply sarcastic or scathingly critical; having a corrosive effect

• naïve = having or showing an excessively simple and trusting view of the world and human nature, often as a result of youth and inexperience; not shrewd or sophisticated, showing a lack of sophistication and subtlety or of critical judgment and analysis; artless, admirably straightforward and uncomplicated or refreshingly innocent and unaffected

• naturalism = a system of thought that rejects all spiritual and supernatural explanations of the world and holds that science is the sole basis of what can be known

• paralipsis = a rhetorical technique in which you emphasize a topic by saying in some way that you will not talk about it, e.g. by using the phrase “not to mention”

• positivism = the theory that knowledge can be acquired only through direct observation and experimentation, and not through metaphysics or theology

• proliferate = to increase greatly in number

• reactionary = opposed to progressive social or political change

• sarcastic = mocking, characterized by words that mean the opposite of what they seem to say and are intended to mock or deride

• sardonic = disdainfully or cynically mocking

• satirical = using wit, especially irony, sarcasm, and ridicule, to criticize faults

• scathing = severely critical and scornful

• Schrödinger’s cat = a thought experiment, sometimes described as a paradox, devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935, posing the question of when exactly quantum superposition ends and reality collapses into one possibility or the other

• skeptic = someone denying that knowledge is possible, a member of an ancient Greek school of philosophy holding the doctrine that real knowledge is impossible, or a later follower of this doctrine

• squalid = neglected, insanitary and unpleasant

• Thrasymachus = Callicles and Thrasymachus are the two great exemplars in Plato (and all of philosophy) of contemptuous challenge to conventional morality

• untenable = lacking the qualities such as sound reasoning or high ground that make defense possible

• zeitgeist = “the spirit of the times,” the ideas prevalent in a period and place, particularly as expressed in literature, philosophy, and religion


Economics, United States History, and Government for your high school student

September 2nd, 2017
Post may contain affiliate links to materials I recommend. Read my full disclosure statement.

A Basic History of the United States, 6 Volumes by Clarence B. Carson, first published 1983-2004 by American Textbook Committee, now published by Boundary Stone

For your highschoolers I recommend Clarence B. Carson’s A Basic History of the United States. The mission of the American Textbook Committee is to “provide books that will illuminate the American heritage, make clear the connection between constitutionally limited government and individual liberty, and describe as accurately as possible the background, developments, principles, and moral and spiritual framework within which freedom is most likely to exist.”

Descriptions by Rainbow Resource Center

“Back in print, this scholarly series from conservative author Dr. Clarence B. Carson provides a solid historical survey of American history from the early 1600s through the Presidential election in 2000.

Volume 1, The Colonial Experience, begins with our European background, travels through the establishment and growth of the colonies, and explores the establishment of education, self government and the free economy.

Volume 2, The Beginning of the Republic, summarizes the great freedoms that were developed during the years of 1775-1825 and includes the War for Independence, creation of the Constitution, establishment of the government, and the expansion of our nation.

Volume 3, The Sections and the Civil War, explores the impact of the rapid growth of our nation, the rise of regional division and sectionalism, encompassing westward expansion, the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Volume 4, The Growth of America, focuses on the growth and development of the United States from 1878-1928 including the settlements in the west, subduing of the Western Indians, the transcontinental railroad, nationwide businesses and the development of large financial institutions. Also explores naturalism, socialism/Marxism, and progressivism and their impact on our growing nation.

Volume 5, The Welfare State, 1929-1985, looks at the Great Depression and the New Deal, World War II, the Cold War, Vietnam War and the radical cultural changes of the times. Common conservative ideals and the conservative response are included.

Volume 6, America: From Gridlock to Deadlock, focuses on the standstill in government and politics that occurred from 1985-2001. Also explored are the philosophical and religious divides that have occurred, the debacle of the welfare state, the collapse of communism, the impact of media and internet, and the world of work and business.

Each softcover volume includes suggestions for additional readings, a glossary and index. The Teacher’s Guide contains summaries, important points to emphasize, discussion questions, terms and activity suggestions to augment readings. A Christian worldview is evident, primarily in volumes 1 and 6. Excellent for the serious student of American history, this comprehensive series provides the older high school and college student with a view of our American heritage that challenges the status quo regarding individual liberty, limited government and the principles of freedom and the moral framework this great nation was built upon. ~Deanne”

Also by Clarence B. Carson:

Basic American Government, copyright 1993, American Textbook Committee, now published by Boundary Stone. Reviewed by Cathy Duffy

Basic Economics (2010 edition) by Clarence B. Carson and Paul A. Cleveland, published by Boundary Stone. Reviewed by Cathy Duffy

You can also get Clarence Carson’s books on Audible.


Even a cricket can be a friend

September 2nd, 2017
Post may contain affiliate links to materials I recommend. Read my full disclosure statement.

A Pocketful of Cricket by Rebecca Caudill (illustrated by Evaline Ness) is my new favorite children’s read-aloud. On his way home with the cows one evening, six-year-old Jay catches a cricket and makes it his friend. A Pocketful of Cricket was published in 1964 and is a 1965 Caldecott Honor Book.



A Communication Time-Bomb

August 22nd, 2017
Post may contain affiliate links to materials I recommend. Read my full disclosure statement.

Taken from Your Family, God’s Way: Developing and Sustaining Relationships in the Home by Wayne A. Mack.

Here is a recipe for a communication disaster — four ingredients:

1. Excessive Negative Talk

“Some people constantly complain and find fault. They seldom affirm or talk about positive virtues of other people. They rarely acknowledge the good things happening in the world or in the church or in their family. They are experts at excessive negative talk. The gloom and doom that pours from the mouths of these people fosters a depressing atmosphere in the family.”

2. Excessive Heavyweight Speech

“Some people …want to turn every conversation into a discussion of deep … problems, weighty subjects, and ultimate concerns.”

3. Lethal Exaggeration

“Exaggeration is a more subtle, but equally lethal form of lying. It occurs when we blow things out of proportion. Sometimes we exaggerate about a person’s behavior…Sometimes we exaggerate concerning our own conduct….Exaggeration encourages people to become defensive or suspicious of the speaker. Although intended to get the listener’s attention, exaggeration usually fosters disbelief or disregard for what is said….The listener begins to feel abused and mistreated, having lost confidence in the speaker and his words….”

4. Misrepresentation

“Misrepresentation, a close cousin to exaggeration, is part of the falsehood family. Perhaps there is no more common form of lying than when the facts about a person and his behavior are rearranged. The truth is so twisted and distorted by additions or omissions or slanting of facts that the result bears little resemblance to reality.

Please read this book.