Thursday, September 27, 2012

Family Reading #5

Some of the interesting reads we've discovered around here this week...

Picture Book Highlights
All of our children love the series about Camille the Giraffe by Jacques Duquennoy.  These simple French books are not high quality literature and border on twaddle.   But they are cute, simple, and have been a great way to introduce lots of French vocabulary.   We've been getting them from the library, but I think I may need to purchase a few to take with us when we leave.   All 3 kiddos ask for these regularly.

Michelle's Reading (7 next week!)
Yes, she's going to be 7 next week...that sounds so OLD to me. Sigh.  Anyhow, her favorite read lately has been the first book in the Boxcar Children series.  She has covered reams of paper with drawings of all of their adventures.   When Papa mentioned something at the dinner table the other night about an "orphan sock" in the laundry, Michelle pipes up: "I'm reading a book about orphans.  That means their mother and father have died."  Funny girl.

Featured School Book
We are most of the way through Among the Pond People by Clara Dillingham Pierson.   These cute stories really have a lot of facts about the various pond animals packed into them.  I've learned some interesting things myself!   This volume is part of a series of 5 that also cover the Meadow, Forest, Farm, and Night People.  We're looking forward to enjoying a couple more of them as part of our science and nature studies next year too.

Bedtime Read-Aloud
We finished Charlotte's Web, which was loved by all. Our current read-aloud is A Little Princess which we are enjoying as well.  We also recently ditched the devotional we were using and have gone back to reading from a Bible story book (The Children's Bible in 365 Stories) so as to better engage the two littlest in our "family" Bible time.  So far, so good.

On Mama's Nightstand
Too many!!  All of those books on the sidebar over there...yes I'm slowly reading through them.  Depends on the day and what I'm in the mood for. =)  I have also recently been on a Kindle downloading binge in part due to an Amazon gift card for my birthday and in part due to a huge list of FREE classic missionary biographies that someone posted over on the Ambleside Online forum earlier this week. =)  New to me books = Happy Mama.   Currently from this treasure hoard I am reading Sleeping Coconuts by John and Bonnie Nystrom.   We knew the Nystroms when we worked in Papua New Guinea.  Their story was familiar to me, but I am enjoying reading the backstory and their insights into what God taught them...some have been particularly timely and convicting.   I have also run across many friends, colleagues, and neighbors in the pages of this's a little weird (in a good way!) to read about people I know in real life as book characters.  If you enjoy the missionary biography genre, you'll probably enjoy this book too.

What have you been reading this week?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

What We've Learned - September 7, 2012

A few of the highlights of our last learning week (sorry I didn't manage any photos this time):

Michelle, Age 6-1/2
1. We read about the slow mud turtle [in Among the Pond People].  I got to tell 4 things about the story.  My favorite part was when the turtle came home and he wanted his brothers to know he was home, and his brothers thought he wanted them to eat and they told him that they weren't hungry.
2. We read in Aesop's Fables about the Astrologer who tried to read the future in the stars and fell into a hole full of mud!
3. I did Math-U-See on the computer and noticed there were 20 problems in all. [She is referring to the drill program on the Math U See website].
4. We did more cursive - little j and Big H and Big I.

James, Age 4
Unavailable for comment this week. =)  But trust me when I say he is learning far more than even I realize sometime.  He recently wrote his name, with all the letters formed correctly and facing the same direction, even though I had never taught him that.  This boy is like a sponge.

Elizabeth, Age 2-1/2
"I learned to sing to Grandma!"    (She wanted me to put this in, by the way.  So there you go.  She has been singing "Happy Birthday" to grandma ever since we made a birthday video for her several weeks ago.)

Mama, Age ?? ;-)
I have been meaning to eventually get back to my series on Charlotte Mason's writings, and maybe someday I will.  Just this week, however, I was reading in CM's Philosophy of Education about how education should be a lifelong thing, not something that is restricted to the time spent in school.  So I thought that maybe I should weigh in here with something that I have been learning too. (And no, I'll try not to bore you with details of French grammar!) ;-)

So, here is a little nugget I gleaned from my reading in Philosophy of Education this past week:
"As for literature - to introduce children to literature is to install them in a very rich and glorious kingdom, to bring a continual holiday to their doors, to lay before them a feast exquisitely served."
One of the main tenets of a Charlotte Mason education is that our minds feed off ideas and not facts alone.  What have you learned more from: a thought-provoking novel or essay, or your ninth grade biology textbook?  This was such a beautiful reminder to me as to why we have chosen to educate our children the way that we do.

Hope you've had a good learning week in your home too!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Family Reading #4

A few of the interesting books we've been into at our house lately...

Picture Book Highlights
I've read One Morning in Maine and Burt Dow, Deep Water Man multiple times in recent weeks.  And all the pages have fallen out of our copy of Blueberries for Sal, so I just ordered a new one.  Can't ever go wrong with Robert McCloskey.  Hands down my very favorite children's picture book author.  If you haven't read his it now.  Snuggle up with your little ones and enjoy!

Michelle's Reading (Age 6-1/2)
Michelle has made her first foray into reading real chapter books on her own with the first couple of volumes in The Cobblestreet Cousins series by Cynthia Rylant.  (Shh, don't tell her, but she's getting the rest of the series for her birthday!)

Featured School Book
We've been enjoying James Baldwin's Thirty Famous Stories as an introduction to some of the characters (both true and legendary) in history.  We just finished reading the last of 6 installments of his re-telling of the Greek legend of Ulysses and Penelope....Michelle kept asking what was going to happen next, and was so happy when...oh wait, I won't spoil the ending for you. =)

Bedtime Read-Aloud
We just finished reading The Wizard of Oz, which we all enjoyed.  (I love Michelle's picture below...keep in mind she hasn't seen the movie, either!)  Even Papa kept wanting to listen in to this one!  (Although FYI, it does include magic and may want to skip this book if those are things you prefer not to read about.)   We've now started Charlotte's Web.  I keep finding Michelle trying to read ahead in it when I'm not looking.  I take this as a good sign...

On Mama's Nightstand
I'm continuing to work my way through Le Chateau de Ma Mere by Marcel Pagnol. [ETA: Between writing and posting this post, I finished it!  So exciting to actually be able to read and enjoy a French novel!] And in the rest of my spare time (ha, ha), I really enjoyed reading through The Writer's Jungle recently.  Teaching good writing was something I never felt I got a good grip on in my classroom teaching years, so this is an exciting find for me.  Rather than being a collection of formulaic writing assignments, it's a manual that walks you through each of the stages of learning how to write with suggestions for appropriate activities along the way.  It is in line with many Charlotte Mason principles and designed to help you do writing across the curriculum rather than isolating the subject of writing on its own.

So, what have you been reading lately?