One thing I know I’ve done is slack off on my homeschooling posts. Some of you may be relieved by that as you follow this for adult book reviews. However, this is something I plan to be more consistent about in the year 2014 (what’s a new year without resolutions to fail at?). So, I’ll start with our wonderful Christmas gifts and how that has altered our January plans for the better.
Series Title:The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library
With her birthday money, kiddo picked out and purchased Oh Say Can You Seed? (All about flowering plants) and If I Ran the Rain Forest (All about tropical rain forests). I was so proud of my three year old, she picked them out herself without being swayed by me and she continues to select them to be read at bed time – obviously not swayed by me because bed time is when I want to read the shortest book possible.
Each one of these books includes all sorts of information, new vocabulary words, and everything a kid needs to know to get started with that particular topic. There’s even a handy glossary at the end that could later serve as a spelling word list.
So when we saw There’s a Map on My Lap we were pretty excited. And when Grandmom got her a Wall Map too – well, it was all over. We have been having ‘map time’ every chance we get.
Title: Magic Tree House: Tonight on the Titanic & Research Guide on the Titanic
Author: Mary Pope Osborne
We did a pretty extensive Titanic unit awhile back. We read both Magic Tree House books as well as a few of those early reader books. There was a picture book we tackled, and we even found a replica of an old newspaper page from the day the Titanic sunk.
Kiddo likes history and really likes boats and ships. She built our very own Titanic out of play dough one day, which was pretty exciting.
I will not have a kid that watches the Leonardo DiCaprio movie at 16 and says, “I didn’t know that was REAL!” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/titanic-tweets-some-say-they-didnt-know-titanic-wasnt-just-a-film/2012/04/10/gIQA8fZY8S_story.html).
Even though I’m not a big fan of the movie and what it has to say morally, I can’t wait for Kiddo to see it – even if it means me letting her watch it at a younger age and fast forwarding through the inappropriate parts (you know, the ones that made the film PG-13) – because seeing the ship in all its glory is a phenomenal experience. Already, she enjoys looking at diagrams of how the ship was set up and pictures that were taken. We liked this National Geographic list and pictures too: http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/stories/history/10-cool-things-about-the-titanic/
Christmas was kind to us in regards to school projects. Already we have started the year off by growing rock crystals of our very own.
This was more of a lesson in patience than anything else. She thought the science lesson was cool, but really it was about learning to go check on it every hour on the hour and how long an hour was.
We’re pretty excited about 2014 and what it has in store for us. Kiddo turns four in October and we have so many fun things to do before then.
We finally finished The Lightning Thief (book one of the Percy Jackson series) a week or so ago. Man, reading that thing out loud was a bit of a doosey and took us a whole month of before bedtime reading. While reading Percy Jackson by night, bless his little adventurous demi-god heart, we’ve been going over our next Magic Tree House Adventure by day…
Magic Tree House #16: Hour of the Olympics
Magic Tree House Research Guide: Ancient Greece and the Olympics (which we just finished this morning over breakfast and coffee).
Also during this little stint we’ve read and re-read the Golden Books: Disney’s Hercules… over and over and over again. And the little Grecian wanna-be has enjoyed the movie probably too many times than can be good for her little developing brain.
The Odyssey retold by Robin Lister is a gem, but at this point – with kiddo not even three yet – we’ve only browsed through the pictures while actually reading Gods & Goddesses in the Daily Life of the Ancient Greeks. Kiddo is really into all this stuff and is still insisting we have her “Percules Birthday Party with three candles.” Which is poor people code for: all the children shall wear sheets and we’ll do a laurel wreath craft and play with cardboard swords because I’m not buying decorations. Also, it will be a good excuse to serve a lot of grapes…
All in all, tromping through this stuff now with her so little has helped me wrap my brain around the plans we have for ages 5 & 10, roughly. Keep lots of wiggle room in mind.
Ancient Greece & Rome Lesson Plan/ List Age 5
Start Latin Lessons
Haywood pages 46-57
Black Ships Before Troy – Sutcliffe (Iliad) along with Haywood pg. 206
The Odyssey Retold by Lister
Memorize some facts about the people listed on Haywood pgs. 50-51
Haywood pgs. 108-115 (2 crafts)
Gods & Goddesses from Greek Myths
Haywood pgs. 168-175 (2 crafts)
Haywood pgs. 228-233 (2 crafts)
Haywood pgs. 342-349 (3 crafts)
Haywood pgs. 404-411 (3 crafts)
In Search of a Homeland – Lively (Aeneid)
Haywood pg. 466 + Mosaic project
Haywood pgs. 472-477 (2 crafts)
Of course I’d like to include a trip to the museum.
Relevant Magic Tree House Books: #13 Vacation Under a Volcano, RG Ancient Rome & Pompeii, and of course #16 Hour of the Olympics, RG Ancient Greece & The Olympics
Relevant Magic School Bus during any Pompeii study: #15 Voyage to the Volcano (although this title occurs in modern Hawaii, it explains in true Magic School Bus form all the inner workings of a Volcano)
Then come age 10-ish, we will start repeating the Ancient school lessons, as per our classical education plan. We’ll re-use Haywood, do projects we may have skipped over, repeat ones she liked a lot… but add these things…
Ancient Greece & Rome Lesson Plan/ List Age 9-10
Start covering the Greek Alphabet (we hope to be pretty Latin literate by then)
Gods & Goddesses in the Daily Life of the Ancient Greeks
The Usborne Encyclopedia of the Roman World
The Odyssey as Retold Mary Pope Osborne (to be read on her own or together as a family), the author of the Magic Tree House books.
The Percy Jackson series by Riordan
As everyone else heads back to school, I looked over the last month and realized we really did treat the hottest months of the year like a summer vacation this year… mostly lolling around the house between events, taking extra naps after our dance parties in the living room, and mostly hiding our pasty skin from the hot, Texas sun. So I tackled cleaning out the closets, while everyone else was out buying school supplies, and organized our life the way it has always been organized in my brain… in unit studies. Of course, that got me in the mood to really tackle “school time” with more vigor and this last week or so we jumped back into the swing of things with Ancient Greece and Rome and then The Vikings and the Celts.
Viking Ships at Sunrise by Mary Pope Osborne was next in our Magic Tree House Adventures. We have not acquired the Viking research guide yet, but I believe there is one. We also re-read DK’s Eye Wonder Viking book, we had read it once before while perusing the exciting world of piracy, and a little repetition is good for a kiddo.
But the really exciting book for this particular unit study was The Hero Beowulf.
Eric A. Kimmel’s retelling of Beowulf is a pretty neat picture book add on for little people. It’s illustrated by Leonard Everett Fisher and is complete with an author’s note about the original poem in the back. Beowulf, after all, isn’t just a monster myth, it’s the “oldest surviving epic poem in English literature,” all the way from the sixth century, to your hands now.
I can’t reiterate enough how much the classical education style appeals to me by teaching so much history through the other subjects… or rather teaching all the other subjects by tackling history so thoroughly. I love that there are so many resources, like Kimmel’s picture book, to make the tales and the culture more real and the epic poem more accessible when the time comes to tackle the original work; because in classical education everything repeats at a higher level over and over again.
After reading The Hero Beowulf, kiddo ran to grab other books with Viking ships on them and said, “Look mommy, more Beowulfs!” So she doesn’t entirely get it yet, but hey, she’s two.
…And other fun facts you learn with your two year old while reading Magic Tree House…
So onward with The Magic Tree House Adventures. We read Ghost Town at Sundown and Lions at Lunch Time. With Lions, we read LIONS by Kathy Darling and enjoyed all the many photographs taken by Tara Darling-Lyon. Kiddo also got to watch The Lion King for the first time this week and we practiced drawing the letter L and colored a giant lion head into her notebook.
Then, we moved onto Polar Bears Past Bedtime and the research guide on Polar Bears and the Arctic. I usually include pictures of all these fabulous homeschooling moments, but kiddo broke my camera right after Comicpalooza. So, my images are second hand…
Kiddo really loves looking at the pictures of all the animals. From identifying the baby bears to asking me what “those things are on him” hanging off the lion (his testicles), we’ve had a full two weeks learning about different kinds of predators and their environment. She finds Africa vs. the Arctic fascinating and is now able to identify the two places on the map.
Yay for little tiny humans being enormous sponges for knowledge!
Magic Tree House Adventures in my library with my toddler. I can’t wait to take her to the Natural Science and History museum! I think it’s about time for her first trip.
She is completely enthralled with Jack and Annie now, and begs for the next story as soon as we’ve finished the last. For parents just coming in for these blog posts, it helps to have some kind of tactile activity and/or lots of related picture books available while toddlers listen to chapter books.
She was really into the bits about the Woolly Mammoths. We learned from Mary Pope Osborne’s research guide that there were different kinds of mammoths: Columbian Mammoths were the biggest, Woolly Mammoths the second largest, and there were smaller ones called Pygmy Mammoths. Of course, a two-year old sees these different mammoths and calls them Daddy Mammoth, Mommy Mammoth, and Baby Mammoth. It’s ok, we still have time to figure it all out.
My child is enamored by sharp teeth and weapons. She also likes maps and any time a location is discussed in a history book she wants to know where it is in relation to Texas and Virginia. Texas because that’s where she’s from, and Virginia because that’s where Pocahontas met John Smith. This was the topic of conversation when the Giant Beavers of North America were discussed during our Ice Age study.
We prefer the Life in the Ancient World book over the Early Humans book. It has a lot more detail, it WILL be used as our first official History textbook and I already have the lesson plans blocked out. There are projects scattered throughout, both crafty and educational, and I think it is a must have homeschooling tool – especially for those pursuing a classical route. Rocks and Fossils is a really awesome book for an older child. I think around ages 8-11 this is going to be a household favorite.
Our Magic Tree House Adventures
As part of our Magic Tree House regimen, the kiddo and I read through everything and anything we could get our hands on regarding rainforests. It’s been about a week, and every afternoon we’ve been diving into the magic of the Amazon River and its surrounding rainforests.
Last time we shared our Magic Tree House Adventures, we’d just finished our fourth set: Pirates Past Noon and Pirates! Fifth in line was Ninjas at Night, and I was searching high and low for a Research Guide (“Fact Tracker”) on Ninjas and could not find one. It looks as though I may have dreamed that one up. So we read the fictional adventure and moved on to Afternoon on the Amazon and Rainforests, the sixth set. I couldn’t find Rainforests anywhere either!
The Ladybird Explorers Plus series are flip/tab books with tons of information. They are great book to have if you have lots of different ages in the house. Even though I can’t say that from the experience of having lots of various aged children, I can say it from the experience of being just as fascinated by this book as my toddler. The pictures are lovely, the facts surprising (I didn’t know there were dolphins in the Amazon River, they must have skipped over that in my childhood rainforest studies), and the tabs and flaps were fun. One of our favorite tabs makes an Asian elephant move a heavy log. Another causes the monkeys to swing through the trees. It includes detailed but simple charts with flaps that show the water cycle in a rain forest, and clear glossy photos that overlap pages like you would find for an overhead projector. The chapter “Beauty in the Forest” lives up to its name and is indeed full of very beautiful illustrations of the trees, birds, and flowers.
The Learn About series is fantastic for the pictures now, but even more important for all the projects later. This really spells out detailed activities to do with an older child when we tackle the rainforest more formally. It shows you step by step how to plant your own canopy, how to make molds of animal tracks in the forest, and the basics of field studies. It is only 63 short pages in length, but the pages are full of facts, gorgeous photography, and 24 projects geared toward 8-12 year olds. It is advertised as “a fascinating fact file and learn-it-yourself project book” which to me is the very definition of what you should have in a homeschooler’s library. I’m not sure why they are priced so high on Amazon, but I got mine for a couple bucks at Half Price Books.
First, I love Usborne. Second, the Living Encyclopedia will be making its way into many lessons, as it covers all living things all over the world. Being that it covers so much, naturally there is a huge section on rain forests that made for some nice supplementary pictures to gaze at while reading our fiction. The kiddo was really taken with the unrelated lady bug on the front cover, but also liked seeing the extra pictures of the dolphins and jaguars while we were reading Dora and Diego’s Adventures, where they travel through the rainforest, use a dolphin to pull them through the Amazon river, and save Baby Jaguar.
It took longer than expected, but we read through Magic Tree House book #4 Pirates Past Noon and the companion research guide Pirates. We browsed through a pirate cookbook and played with our pirate ship and discussed parts of the boat, identified sails and masts and so on…
While reading the companion book, kiddo sorted sea shells and counted her treasure…
After that we learned about Vikings and ancient maps… even learned how to spell “Map.”
And that’s what homeschooling a two year old looks like.