Song for Papa Crow

June 30, 2014 at 10:23 pm (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

songforpapacrowTitle: Song for Papa Crow

Author: Marit Menzin

Publisher: Schiffer Publishing

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

I was delighted to have Schiffer Publishing contact me to review a selection of their picture books.  There can never be too many children’s books here in the Klemm household, as kiddo devours them for breakfast, elevenses, lunch, dinner, and bedtime.  We’re readers. We read.  We’re also artists and we love admiring quality picture books.

As a homeschool mom of an aspiring birder, I couldn’t find Song for Papa Crow any more perfect.

This is a lovely story about how Little Crow loves to sing.  He sings his heart out and in the course of teaching children what birds of North America make what sounds, we also follow Little Crow on a a journey of self-discovery and why it’s a beautiful thing to be yourself.

Menzin’s collage art is gorgeous.  Kiddo and I adore all the rich colors.  We spend a good deal of time outdoors and it’s wonderful to see nature portrayed with so much texture even while confined to the pages of a book.

Of course, after every book, I ask kiddo what she thinks.  My three year old smiled broadly and responded, “I think it’s ridiculous.”  Ridiculous, naturally, being pronounced ridicooooolous and said for the sheer enjoyment of using the word.  Proven by the fact that she has asked for me to read “the Papa Crow one” at least twice a day since our first reading.

Now, a week later, I ask kiddo:

“Would you like to say anything about Papa Crow to our readers?”

“Yes,” she says decisively.

“What would you like to say?”

“Nothing at all, I just want it to be SEEN.”

Powerful words from a three year old, I think.  She’s right, we could talk about how awesome Papa Crow is all day, but when all is said and done, Menzin’s collages simply must be seen.

Songs for Papa Crow will accompany us to Story Time at Half Price Books Humble for the next two weeks (July 2nd & 9th).  We meet every Wednesday, all summer, at 10:30 am.  Though we typically read multiple titles, we tend to choose a favorite to feature each week.  We will also have a few Schiffer Kids Spring 2014 Catalogs for patrons of Story Time to peruse.  Snacks are provided.

I look forward to reading more from Schiffer Books as well as Marit Menzin.  The Klemms are officially fans for life.

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I Love Dirt!

January 7, 2014 at 9:09 pm (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

dirtTitle: I Love Dirt!(52 Activities to help you and your kids discover the wonders of nature)

Author: Jennifer Ward

Foreword: Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods

Illustratator: Susie Ghahremani

I popped in at Half Price Books after a long season off from scheduling book signings.  Tucked low in my employee cube was a book – this book – with a post it note on it from my boss.

“Andi – I thought you might like because of the woods you live by!”

I did like it, immediately.  And bought it with my Christmas money.

The book starts with a riveting foreword about the nature of nature in the United States and how much we have strayed from the outdoors.  Interestingly enough, the more we stray from outdoor life, the more children struggle with obesity, ADD and ADHD, as well as depression.

And the more kids spend outdoors?

“A 2005 study by the California Department of Education found that students in schools with nature immersion programs performed 27 percent better in science testing than kids in traditional class settings.  Similarly, children who attended outdoor classrooms showed substantially improved test scores, particularly in science.  Such research consistently confirms what our great-grandparents instinctively knew to be true, and what we know in our bones and nerves to be right: free-play in natural settings is good for a child’s mental and physical health.  The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees, stating in 2007 that free and unstructured play is healthy and essential for children.”

P1000640I’m in love with this book.  I already do a lot of nature activities with my child – foraging for starters.  We play outside at the public park, we walk nature trails, we run, we jump, do cartwheels in the grass, hunt insects and lizards, sword fight with sticks, and sing our ABCs at the tops of our lungs by the creek.  As Ward states in her introduction, “There is nothing more joyful and inspiring to watch than children discovering the world around them.”

All of the activities in this book are pretty much cost free.  The only one I found that requires any kind of purchase is the bird feeding one, and that’s only if you want to do it big and don’t have spare groceries in your house.  The activities are simple, like sprinkling orange peels in your yard or covering pine cones with peanut butter and bird seed to bird watch from inside when it is too cold to be outside.

The book is broken up seasonally, so you can hop in and do something no matter when you pick up the book.  Each activity has a prompt or a concept to get your child thinking about the activity and world itself.

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Homeschooling Schmomeschooling

January 2, 2014 at 6:20 pm (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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

Maps Cat in the HatTitle: There’s a Map on My Lap!

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.

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TonightontheTitanicTitle: 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.

TitanicI 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/

Other Projects…

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.

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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.

 

 

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This Is Monstropolis

August 14, 2013 at 1:32 am (Guest Blogger, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

A Weekly Low Down on Kids Books and Guest Blog by Maura M! (2 in 1!)

Maura guest blog photoTitle:This Is Monstropolis!

I’m excited to share this little piece of toddler entertainment gold. This Is Monstropolis is an adorably illustrated flap book that is stuffed to the brim with things for little hands to explore. There is not much text here. The real beauty of this book is the vast amount of things there are in the illustrations to describe to your little one. In the 3 days that we have owned This Is Monstropolis, I’ve probably spent more than an hour discussing the scenes on the 14 pages of this book and what is happening behind each flap. This book is recommended for 3 year olds and beyond, but my 2 year old enjoys it immensely. The Richard Scarry-esque illustrations can be adored by child and caregiver alike and curious 2 year olds can’t get enough of the flap flipping.

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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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Polar Bears Aren’t Really White…

June 10, 2013 at 3:10 am (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

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…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…

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PBs Sandra Markle

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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!

 

 

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Dolphins and Sharks!

May 1, 2013 at 3:50 am (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Magic Tree House Adventures took us to the ocean!

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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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Homeschooling / Life With a Toddler

March 28, 2013 at 12:34 am (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Tea Time
We have tea parties with our geography lessons. She knows her southern states and can identify North America on a world map. No matter what, she can always find Texas, even when all its borders aren’t clearly drawn on… she looks for the Gulf of Mexico.
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Card Games
She loves to play cards… these are first word matching puzzle cards. The nice, straight rows are all her doing. She’s quite the neat-nick.
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Arts & Crafts
Painting is the best. Featured here is an acrylic on canvas piece.
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Story Time
Story time at Half Price Books cannot be missed. It is an essential part of our weekly lives.
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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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