Monday, September 20, 2010

Book Sharing Monday - David Wiesner

A new David Weisner picture book is out--let there be great rejoicing!

Art and Max, by David Wiesner

It's a good one, too.  I love many things about this book: the quirky little reptiles and the author-illustrator's use of color, for instance.  But what I love most about this book is the celebration of thinking outside the, well, not "box" in this case, but canvas.

Here is Wiesner, talking about the creation of this book:

Hope you enjoy it as much as we have!

Book Sharing Monday is hosted by Canadian Home Learning.  Head on over and share what book caught your eye this week!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Light at the Edge of the World

As part of our study of the Eastern Hemisphere, the kids and I watched the Polynesia episode of Light at the Edge of the World, a Smithsonian Channel production written and hosted by Canadian anthropologist and ethnobotanist (and modern-day explorer) Wade Davis.  The four-hour series is based on his book of the same title, and possibly this one, as well.  It was informative and thought-provoking, and we'll be watching the other episodes soon.

I like this quote from Davis, which I hopefully transcribed correctly from his Monarch Films biopic, titled Wade Davis: Explorer:
The key, real challenge in life is not to know where you're going to go, but to prepare your character so that when those wondrous moments of serendipity occur, you can listen to your heart and know what it is you need to do.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Book Sharing Monday - the late edition

I've been meaning to post about these two beautiful books for a while now and just tonight realized that it was Book Sharing Monday already again!

A Calendar of Festivals: Celebrations from around the World retold by Cherry Gilchirst and illustrated by Helen Cann shares stories of Purim (Jewish), Holi (Hindu), Vesak (Buddhist), Tanabata (Japanese), Halloween (Celtic), Christmas (Christian), Kwanzaa (Caribbean), and New Year (Russian).

Stories from the Silk Road retold by Cherry Gilchrist and illustrated by Nilesh Mistry is just plain gorgeous.  I can't get over the artwork chosen for the vast majority of Barefoot Books titles.  We're lucky enough to live just a few minutes from the flagship store of this stellar publishing company, and I love walking in there.  And I never come home empty-handed (insert happy dance here).

We're using parts of the first and all of the second with our Eastern Hemisphere studies this year.  I have to say that I can't wait to hit the Silk Road, as not only do we have Gilchrist's books, we also have Russell Freedman's and Demi's biographies of Marco Polo, Marco Polo for Kids: His Marvelous Journey to China by Janis Herbert, and two ensemble cds headed by Yo-Yo Ma to enjoy.

Book Sharing Monday is hosted by Canadian Home Learning (formerly Serendipity Homeschool).  Alex has a great book about Lego to show us all--one that my youngest just got from the library yesterday, too.  How's that for Serendipity?  :)

Monday, September 06, 2010

Book Sharing Monday - Explorers

The year of exploration is upon us here at Rockhound Place.  Waldorf-knowledgeable friends assure me that this theme is a great one for pre-adolescents who are determined to spread their wings a bit, so it's propitious that Jazz was instrumental in helping to choose this year's history/geography subject matter.

We've been looking at books about explorers in order to replace one of Sonlight Core 5's spines, Exploring Planet Earth, which is too religiously slanted to be useful to us.  We've come across some helpful and/or beautiful books whilst doing so, and what better day to share them than Book Sharing Monday?

So You Want to Be an Explorer? by Judith St. George; illustrated by David Small.  Small's goofy illustrations are a big part of the appeal here, I think.  Jazz grabbed this one and enjoyed reading it from cover to cover before we started back with organized homeschooling.  St. George's tone is conversational and appealing to younger kids, and, while she runs the gamut from Alexander the Great and the Greek trader Pytheas all the way through to Buzz Aldrin and cohorts, and even further into the world of 21st century genetic scientists, the succinct text is mainly a roll call to familiarize readers with famous names in exploration.  Fun for ages five and up, if my kids are anything to go by.

The World of Exploration by Philip Wilkinson.  This OOP Kingfisher title isn't that difficult to find used, and its division by geographic region is especially helpful, as that is how we are pursuing our study of exploration.  Like most of the thinner Kingfisher books, this one has, for each geographic region, a two-page spread with a just-right amount of text for my nine-year-old, and contains both photos and drawings as illustrations.

The Usborne Book of Explorers from Columbus to Armstrong.  This particular Usborne title alternates between featuring famous names and familiar movements of exploration, such as the Vikings' expansion into North America or the opening of the American West.  The table of contents lists both by region, though, which makes this little volume handy to have around.  Both Jazz and Jane will use this book.

Like the previous Usborne title, The Look-It-Up Book of Explorers by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel divides the text up by region, and provides information about an even longer list of explorers.  Each name is allotted about three pages of text interspersed with maps and black-and-white illustrations.  I think this book is most appropriate for middle school-level students.

The World Made New--Why the Age of Exploration Happened & How It Changed the World by Marc Aronson and John W. Glenn.  This beautiful National Geographic title would be a great addition to a year spent studying the exploration of the Americas, but unfortunately doesn't meet our needs for our pursuit of knowledge of the Eastern Hemisphere.  I'll definitely keep it in mind when we hit American history again.

The Encyclopedia of Explorers and Adventurers by Justine Ciovacco.  My feminist little heart goes thumpity-thump with the inclusion of more than two dozen women in this 127-page book, from familiar names such as Sacagawea and Amelia Earhart to not-so-familiar ones like Naomi Uemura and Annie Smith Peck.  While not terribly relevant to the region we're studying this year, this is still a great book to have on hand to find out information about adventurous people of the past.

Around the World in a Hundred Years--from Henry the Navigator to Magellan by Jean Fritz; illustrated by Anthony Bacon Venti.  Any narrative by Jean Fritz is going to make a wonderful read-aloud.  This book is exactly what it claims to be--a look at one hundred years of exploration.  While it's not all about the Eastern Hemisphere, and we can't jump around by region as it is a continuous story much like The Story of the World (with chapters even more connected, I dare say), I'm planning to make time for this book as soon as we finish Holling's Seabird, as I can imagine referring back to the various explorers mentioned in this book when we get to them in Core 5.

Book Sharing Monday is hosted by Canadian Home Learning (formerly Serendipity Home School).   Head on over and see what books other families are enjoying!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Dipping in a toe. . .

We made a start with homeschooling this week, but it was a gentle beginning with fun activities and/or visits with friends happening most afternoons, once the basics were were covered in the (yawn! eyes open yet?) morning.

First thing (while kids are eating breakfast or just after--quick, snag them before they run off!): we light a candle and read aloud either, from Michael Clay Thompson's Language Arts (MCTLA), Music of the Hemispheres, or, from Sonlight Core 5, All the Small Poems (and Fourteen More), and then the day's portion of our Core 5 read-aloud book.  This week: Seabird, by Holling C. Holling.  I usually have the older two write down the "words to know" from the Sonlight read-aloud guide.  J.J. likes to join in and tends to illustrate his words.

After reading together, Jazz and Jane are off to their workboxes, and J.J. is off to Legoland-in-the-Living-Room.  His workboxes are filled with Montessori activities and Five-in-a-Row (FIAR) books, but right now we get to those when the spirit moves one or the other of us.

Workbox #1: Both of the older two are doing another round of Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting, with a focus on cursive. In the past, Jazz learned the serifs that go with the cursive italic letters, but somehow never got in the habit of connecting the letters, so his handwriting is spiky, and since he writes quite small, it can be difficult to decipher.  Soon I'm hoping to alternate handwriting and copywork.

Workbox #2: Sonlight Core 5's Eastern Hemisphere Explorer.  I had debated about using this part of the curriculum, but am very glad I went ahead and bought it.  Used in conjunction with World Book Encyclopedia 2010 software (which has a fun Mussorgsky intro. that sent us down a rabbit trail for a bit), the guide challenges students to find out a little bit of information each day about the region they are studying.  For instance, yesterday's task was to compare and contrast three regions of islands in the Pacific (Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia).  They also get to "choose an adventure," to be completed by the end of that region's study, which can take the form of a detailed drawing, a mini-report, the preparation of a meal, a mock journal entry, or another out-of-the-ordinary task to tie up what they've learned.

This workbox also contains a Book of Time for each kid.  More on this later. . .

Workbox #3: Jane is continuing with Writing with Ease, while right now Jazz has Sonlight's How to Do a Research Project to read while we wait for Grammar Town to get here (should be arriving on the Big Brown Truck any day now).  I was going to split the levels and go with Grammar Voyage, since Jazz already has a pretty solid background in grammar, thanks to First Language Lessons, levels 3 and 4, but decided to keep everything in the same level and use Grammar Town as a refresher course.  There's nothing like coming at a subject from a different angle to help make things stick in the ol' noggin.

Workbox #4: Jazz is loving Caesar's English so far.  Michael Clay Thompson's word roots curriculum is far, far different than traditional vocabulary programs like Wordly Wise, or even Vocabulary from Classical Roots, which we also really liked last year.  Thompson's love for language resonates on every page, inspiring students to love it, too.  Jane has her Sonlight reader in box #4--this week it's Henry Reed, Inc.

Workbox #5: I've given Jane the Writing Skills book by Diana Hanbury King that Jazz used for a bit, but am not sure this is a great match for her.  I'm sorely tempted by the Island level of MCTLA, but feel like I have already donated a kidney to Royal Fireworks Press and need to wait until it grows back before I can order from that company again.  She probably gets enough (for now) from Writing with Ease (narration, copywork, dictation, and narration, in four-day cycles), so this box will probably become the First Language Lessons box.

Jazz has his pseudo-Sonlight reader in this box.  Pseudo because a) he reads at a much higher level than most of the Core 5 books, but mostly because b) he and his sister would find something to fight about if they were reading the same book at the same time.  This week, instead of Henry Reed, Inc, he's reading Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, which we somehow missed in the past, to go with the seafaring theme of both Seabird and the Pacific Island region of Core 5's first couple of weeks.  Jazz also has a few pages of Ships, Sailors, and the Sea to read each day, and that book is kept here, too.  ("Why do I have to read two books in this box?" said in his best petulant twelve-year-old voice.  I immediately pictured him curled up in the box, reading.  Somehow, the humor didn't translate.)

And that's it for this week.  I'm currently gathering ideas for next week's "fun" learning, which will hopefully include some Polynesian cooking (using Sam Choy's Polynesian Kitchen and Kids Around the World Cookthe making of tissue paper flowers, and very likely the viewing of a surfing DVD or two.  Workboxes #6 through #9 will be added eventually, and will have science, Latin, art, music, and hopefully foreign language in them at some point.

Thursday, September 02, 2010