Guest essay by Ruth Smith
How does your family make summer memorable and meaningful? To encourage summer learning, the following article comes to you from the Pilgrim Institute archives.
In the summer of 1984, Verna Hall and Rosalie Slater of the Foundation for American Christian Education gave children an opportunity to do special projects which would help form the same Pilgrim character traits that built Plymouth Plantation and strengthened the colony to “survive in the American Wilderness.”
More than just a suggestion for your family, this article brings to you a treasure—the words of Miss Hall and Miss Slater; words which will inspire you with a love for learning, recognition of divine Providence, and the beauty of the Principle Approach to American Christian Education.
Dear Children and Parents:
Developing a Fact Box
Noah Webster in his American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828, defines the word fact as follows:
FACT: (From the root of to make or do)
Any thing done, or that comes to pass; an act; a deed; an effect produced or achieved; an event. Witnesses are introduced into court to prove a fact. Facts are stubborn things. To deny a fact is to lie.
Reality; truth; as, in fact.
Recording Useful Knowledge
When young Jules Verne was having a difficult time, he found the public libraries of Paris a warm place. Here he began his extensive reading in the natural sciences. In his lifetime, he wrote 20,000 data cards of facts. His excellent memory and imagination allowed him to make use of this knowledge in the writing of his many books of adventure. Because Jules Verne endeavored to be careful and accurate in his research, one hundred years later in America when the Apollo 9 Spacecraft for the manned space flight to the moon was built, it was the same weight and height as that used in Jules Verne’s novel Journey from the Earth to the Moon. Even more remarkable was the fact that the splashdown of Apollo 9 in the Pacific Ocean was about 2 ½ miles from the point which Jules Verne had calculated from his research one hundred years before!
Today we American Christians have become careless with our habits of learning. We live in an age when there is much to learn yet for the most part, we fail to organize our knowledge. That is the purpose for a Fact Box. Go to the stationery store and find a box—not smaller than one which could hold 4” by 6” cards. You may want a larger card to work with. You should also purchase a set of alphabet cards so that you can file and organize your facts alphabetically. Every time you learn some new and important fact, write it on a card with a brief line or two to indicate the source of your information. By filing it under a proper letter, you will be able to find your information and add to it. As you read about persons, places, things, which are important for you to remember, decide how you want to classify the information so that later you may refer to it quickly.
Perhaps you have been reading a biography about Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross. Perhaps you have just learned about John Chapman, known as Johnny Appleseed and the beautiful Ohio country where he planted so many apple trees. You could classify him under the word apple, or Ohio, or under his own well-loved name of Johnny Appleseed. Plan to unify your knowledge so that as you learn more and more about America’s Christian History you can bring in many people, places and events that relate to the uniqueness of our country.
God’s Creation is an area which is so full of wonderful studies that, hopefully, you will be adding to your knowledge and appreciation all the time. Streams, ponds, rivers, and the oceans afford many sources of learning. As students of the Principle Approach, we seek to find the unifying principles by which many diverse plants and animals are drawn together. This is certainly true of the life of a pond, or the tide-pools at the seashore. The more we can relate the facts we see before us to the unifying principles that govern, the more certain we will be able to learn God’s Laws governing the particular area. This is, of course, true of the forests and the desert lands, and tropical and arctic regions. The study of an area should bring us closer to the Nature and Character of God.
When Matthew Fontaine Maury, Christian founder of Oceanography, published his The Physical Geography of the Sea and its Meteorology in 1855, he caused many men who had spent their lives at sea “to look about us, and see by what wonderful manifestations of the wisdom and goodness of the great God we are continually surrounded.” As Captain Phinney of the American ship Gertrude continued to testify of his closer look into “the wonders of the great deep” as a result of studying Maury, we can see the relationship of his words to our own lives:
For myself, I am free to confess that for many years I commanded a ship, and, although never insensible to the beauties of nature upon the sea or land, I yet feel that, until I took up your work, I had been traversing the ocean blindfolded. I did not know the amazing and beautiful combination of all the works of Him whom you so beautifully term “the Great First Thought.”
I feel that, aside from the pecuniary profit to myself from your labors, you have done me good as a man. You have taught me to look above, around and beneath me, and recognize God’s Hand in every element by which I am surrounded. I am grateful for this personal benefit. Your remarks on this subject, so frequently made in your work, cause in me feelings of the greatest admiration, although my capacity to comprehend your beautiful theory is very limited.
Places to Visit
There are also many places to visit—some probably quite close to where you live—which have some connection with our history, our literature or with our present life as a nation. These places can be entered into your Fact Box and can be helpful reminders of the history that unfolded in that particular spot of geography. Sometimes you can actually touch history. You can reach down and feel a wagon track imprinted on the land where the wheels of a prairie schooner carried a family westward and left its mark on history. Sometimes you can walk inside the decaying walls of an old adobe fort or house where some important act of history was lived out. Or you can see and touch and climb inside some old entrenchment or redoubt that served in the defense of liberty. All of these can be entered as facts into your record or box.
The eyewitnesses of the nineteenth century events of history are almost all gone and we must look to books, and diaries, sermons and newspapers, to seek out our eighteenth-century history. What can we record of today’s events that are taking place in our centuries—the twentieth and the twenty-first? Do we know of God’s Hand in preserving our nation in this century? Do we know of the many efforts for liberty taking place today in our nation, in our world? We should record carefully names, dates, places, important to the history of Constitutional Liberty.
The Bible is our written textbook of liberty and we can depend upon the facts of the Bible. Just as in Old Testament times there were efforts to preserve and record the Hand of God in His Story, so in the New Testament those who were “eyewitnesses” were careful to write down the important events in the Life of our Lord. Luke, who was not a disciple of our Lord, but a frequent companion of the Apostle Paul, began his Gospel with these significant words:
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou has been instructed.— Luke 1:1-4
Let us be faithful stewards of what the Lord is teaching us in all fields—and let us seek His principles in each field we research. As we expand our awareness of God’s principles in all fields and record carefully the facts which can serve to prepare us—then we will be ready to be used of the Lord for His plan and purpose as a faithful instrument of His will in our lives—to His glory and for the benefit of the cause of Liberty.
Keep your Fact Box at home. Work at it and review what you are recording often to see whether you are learning the relationships which exist between all aspects of God’s world. From time to time when you have something of interest to report you may want to take your Fact Box to school to share with your teachers and classmates. Perhaps others, too, in your school will be working at building a Fact Box and you can exchange your knowledge and information and inspire each other to pursue the goal of godly approval.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.—2 Timothy 2:15
From the Editor
If the suggestion of a simple card file seems too old-fashioned to interest your technology-saturated children, consider the following suggestions:
- Use lap-book style file folders and papers for your child’s recording.
- Learn to do foldables, and encourage your child to record on them.
- Purchase bright-colored cards to make the project appealing.
- Supply your child with stickers to decorate the cards after they’ve recorded something new they learned.
- Provide bright-colored pencils, pens or markers to make the writing special.
- Create an individual Summer Learning computer file, and have your child create attractive documents.
- Use a digital camera to capture interesting photos and use the internet or library to learn more about God’s marvelous Creation. Record what you’ve learned along with the digital picture.
- Start a sketch book and make drawings about things of interest. Research more information and add written descriptions of what you’ve learned.
- Purchase a Note Sketch Book from Miller Pads and Paper. Use the book to make sketches or collect photographs, postcards, etc. Using the pre-printed lines, write about what you learned visiting a park, walking in the neighborhood, or reading a book.
Suggested Resources from Pilgrim Institute and Amazon
The following resources may prove to make your summer fact box learning easier and a more delightful experience.
Pilgrim Institute is an Amazon.com Affiliate partner. Read our disclosure. Your purchase earns Pilgrim Institute a small commission. This benefits the ministry, but does not impact your price. Thank you.
Ruth Smith is co-founder and president of Pilgrim Institute, West Bend, Indiana, author and master teacher. Pilgrim Institute seeks to restore the faith and knowledge that produced the free institutions of Christian America.
© 2019 Used by permission
Nordskog Publishing (NPI) provides articles and essays by select guest authors which we believe have much to offer the Christian community—to motivate Biblical thinking and action. We believe in the market place of ideas within the context of God’s Word. However, we may disagree at points. Publishing an article does not mean absolute agreement. Therefore, please understand that opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of NPI, nor of its editorial staff.