Moonhorse

January 23, 2014 at 9:48 pm (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

moonhorse

Weekly Low Down on Kids Books

Title: Moonhorse

Author: Mary Pope Osborne

Illustrator: S.M. Sealig

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

I saw this and couldn’t pass it up.  Mary Pope Osborne invades my house again!  I love her.

I enjoy her complete ability to offer facts and history and in this case astronomy in the form of fiction.  To pique a child’s interest in a nonfiction topic with a bit of fantastical fairy tale.

I’m trying to get more detailed and specific when I offer these reviews of my child’s favorite books, but she doesn’t always seem to understand the questions.  Or perhaps, I don’t understand the beautiful simplicity of her answers.

Me: “Did you like this book?”

Kiddo: “Yes!”

Me: “What did you like about it?”

Kiddo: “The white!”

Me: “Because the horse is white?”

Kiddo: “With the red.”

The little girl in the illustration is wearing a red dress.  I think bits of the story were lost on my three year old today, she was drawing her own pictures and sucking down a cup of milk.  I think ultimately, what she may have been trying to tell me, in her distracted three year old way, is that she liked the illustrations and the use of muted color.  But I don’t want to put words in her mouth.

If you’re building an astronomy unit study for anyone under ten, this is a nice bedtime story to add to your week.  Personally, I wish the poetry of the tale was rhymed more, but I have a natural inclination to the sing-songy way of things.

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The Olympians

September 10, 2013 at 4:13 pm (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

thelightningthief__spanWe 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.

Hercules_DisneyThe 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)

Archimedes and the Door of Science

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

 

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The Vikings Take Over Our Library

August 27, 2013 at 12:15 am (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

large_viking_001As 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.

BeowulfBut 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.

 

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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Kings

July 23, 2013 at 8:12 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The Weekly Low Down on Kids Books/ Adventures in The Magic Tree House

crouching_tigerTitle: Crouching Tiger

Author: Ying Chang Compestine

Illustrator: Yan Nascimbene

This book was an unexpected treasure from the public library.  Kiddo picked this book out herself and I was really excited about it once I was in the middle of reading it.

As a third degree black belt who grew up around a lot of Chinese culture, I love finding unique children’s stories like these.  It teaches etiquette, respect for your elders, culture appreciation, diligence, perfection through practice, and each page also has a diagram of a Tai Chi stance.

This was an excellent book to jolt us into our week on Ancient China.

Day of the Dragon KingTitle: Day of the Dragon King (Magic Tree House #14)

Author: Mary Pope Osborne

Publisher: Scholastic

Although we don’t have a research guide for this topic, we’ve been perusing all things Ancient China while reading this book this week.  There are pages from Life in the Ancient World specifically on the Chinese that we read through for a second time, I can’t wait to do some of the art projects when she is older.

toddler chopsticksAlthough we didn’t do anything crafty with this week’s topic, we did enjoy some stir fry for dinner and kiddo got to practice eating with her toddler chopsticks.

The kiddo’s chopsticks are an orange elephant, but the concept is pretty much the same.  These things are so handy and I think they are a great way to give your tiny person an ounce of how other countries live.

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Discovering the Ice Age

April 6, 2013 at 9:01 pm (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Purchase from Amazon.com

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Afternoons on the Amazon

March 30, 2013 at 3:52 am (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Our Magic Tree House Adventures

DSC02997As 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!

So I built my own unit with out the help of Mary Pope Osborne, and found some pretty awesome books in our personal library the process…
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Ladybird Explorers Plus: Rainforests

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.

Rainforests

Learn About Rainforests by Jen Green

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.

Usborne Living WorldThe Usborne Living World Encyclopedia

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.

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More Homeschooling with a Toddler – Pirates!

February 14, 2013 at 4:18 am (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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…

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While reading the companion book, kiddo sorted sea shells and counted her treasure…

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After that we learned about Vikings and ancient maps… even learned how to spell “Map.”

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And that’s what homeschooling a two year old looks like.

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Homeschooling a 2 Year Old

January 31, 2013 at 8:48 pm (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Looks like this…

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I read Magic Tree House #3 Mummies in the Morning and its companion research guide Mummies and Pyramids while she looked at lots of pictures. The books with pictures were The Kingfisher Atlas of the Ancient World, a Reader’s Digest What Life Was Like, a coffee table book called The Pyramids and Sphinx, and a hardback I plan to use as a textbook when we do this again called Life in the Ancient World. I can’t wait to dive into that last one with her. It has activities and projects and all sorts of fun things.

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Then we learned that P is for Pyramid. After several pictures, lots of blue lines, a few attempts to write some letters, she can at least say the word and identify the drawing – mostly – sometimes she says triangle or boat instead. I think she sees triangles and thinks of the sails on a crude drawing of a sailboat.

Anyway, that quickly turned into this:

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And that’s what homeschooling a two year old looks like.

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Weekly Low Down on Kids Books – Dinosaurs!

January 18, 2013 at 8:13 pm (Education, JARS, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

dinsaurs before darkI read Magic Tree House #1: Dinosaurs Before Dark to the kiddo today, all the way through this time.  We have started it before, but she wasn’t old enough to listen to it all and grasp the concept yet.  We’ve been practicing our alphabet and started a notebook together, though, and now at age two and three months she knows that ‘D’ is for ‘dogs and dinosaurs’ and can identify their images in illustrations.  So reading Mary Pope Osborn’s first adventure was a little more exciting this time.

We had to stop a few times to draw a rhinoceros onto our ‘R’ page, check out whales and their sizes in relation to dinosaurs in our encyclopedia, and to correct behavior as she climbed in my living room window sill that is about three and half feet off the ground.  We even had a brief whistling lesson after reading how the wind was whistling around the tree house.  Overall, she enjoyed it, so we moved onto the Research Guide.

dinosaurs research guideMary Pope Osborne and her husband Will Osborne joined forces and started writing nonfiction companion books to the fictional Magic Tree House adventures.  When I first discovered this, I started purchasing them in pairs, vowing to use them as fun assignments while home schooling.  I’d like for kiddo to grow up in the habit of reading a nonfiction title that somehow relates to every fiction title that she devours, expanding both her facts and her imagination.  What better way than to start with research guides to her first chapter books?

Why am I reading these to her so early?  Frankly, it’s quite hilarious to watch a two  year old run circles in your living room chanting, “Fossils! Minerals! Dinosaurs!” at the top of her lungs, while her dog (who happens to be the biggest one we own) lays in the center rolling his eyes.

wanna iguanaChapter three of the research guide Dinosaurs talks about iguanas and how Gideon Mantell though the dinosaur teeth he and his wife found were giant iguana teeth.  Of course, we had to stop to re-read I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff and David Catrow.  It has quickly  become a favorite since we came across it at Half Price Books a few weeks ago, and the tie-in to our dinosaur lesson was flawless.  The banter between mother and son is downright fun and the illustrations are extra spunky.  It gave us a chance to talk about different iguana sizes and different ancient dinosaur sizes again, bigger and smaller is something I think the kiddo is really getting the hang of after our discussions today.

All in all, we had a good ‘school day’ this morning, something we have been working on being more diligent about now that kiddo is two and it has actually managed to get too cold to venture out as much.

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