Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween fun

It's dark and dreary here today, and we're taking it easy as one of the kiddos is under-the-weather.  Some of the holiday-related things we've got on hand for the week are coming out today:

One book I forgot to mention in my Book Sharing Monday post--another great title from Barefoot Books: Tales of Mystery and Magic (book and audio cd), retold and narrated by Hugh Lupton and illustrated by Agnese Baruzzi.  We're listening to this one as I type.

Classics for Kids October shows from years past (and this year, though this last podcast has another episode to be released before it is complete).   Mussorgsky (2008)Grieg (2009), and Stravinsky (2010) are the featured composers.

Halloween Shrinky Dinks: my younger two love these!  This set comes with a halloween tree from which to hang the shrunken ornaments, once finished.  

Spooky Doodles: great for the artistically inhibited, or kids that just wanna have fun.  The black pages require metallic gel pens or other such drawing implements.

Spooky Classics for Children, as told by Jim Weiss, which includes abbreviated versions of Oscar Wilde's "The Canterville Ghost," Hawthorne's "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment," and Kipling's "The Sending of Dana Da."  We are big fans of this storyteller.

I'm also tempted by this unabridged version of "The Canterville Ghost," narrated by Rupert Degas, which is also available on iTunes.

And then there are also the movie versions of the tale!  I grew up watching the 1944 version starring Robert Young (Father Knows Best, Marcus Welby) and Margaret O'Brien, but have also enjoyed both the 1986 movie featuring Sir John Gielgud and Alyssa Milano and the 1995 made-for-tv version with Patrick Stewart.  Neither of these latter two versions appears to be available in DVD or streaming format, but there is a 1985 version that is bargain priced at Amazon and might be worth checking out.

Because I can't let go of homeschooling completely, even on a "sick" day, I put together a few pages of copywork (for this year and next) with a spooky theme.  Charles Dickens predominates, but Conan Doyle and Poe make appearances, too, as does childhood favorite L.M. Montgomery.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Book Sharing Monday - Halloween books!

Here are some spooky and not-so-spooky titles that are either new or new to us.  We're enjoying them this week as we count down to that orange-and-blackest of all holidays.

Zen Ghosts by Jon J. Muth.  The author of Zen Ties and Zen Shorts has a charming Halloween story to share.

Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Rick Allen.  While not strictly speaking a Halloween book, this title appealed to us because of another by Sidman that we've enjoyed--Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow--a great spring read!

Gobbolino The Witch's Cat, written by Ursula Moray Williams and illustrated by Paul Howard.  This shortish chapter book was a read-aloud at the homeschooling co-op we used to attend a few years ago, but two of my three were not present to hear the story at the time, so we're giving it a go here at home this week.

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury.  Unbeknownst to me, this haunted space-time adventure has also been made into a movie, which doesn't appear to be available on DVD (though Amazon sells the VHS for $12 or so), but it is available on YouTube (in parts).  As with any video recommendations, I highly suggest parental pre-watching to determine appropriateness for your own kiddos!  

Book Sharing Monday is hosted by Canadian Home Learning.  Happy reading!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Five questions, in which I play a round of tag.

Alex at Canadian Home Learning tagged me, let's see now, three weeks ago!  Yikes.  Evidently there is a black hole in my house that is sucking all the time into it.  Not to mention socks.  And my sanity.  If only The Doctor was here to save me.

Anyhoo, the game goes something like this--another blogger tags you with a number of questions to answer.  You write up a post answering them and tag another set of bloggers to answer a new set of questions you've made up.  Both Alex and Barb (Harmony Art Mom) used five questions, so I'm going to go ahead and see if I can come up with that number, as well.

Here are Alex's questions (centered around the theme of "favorites"), and my answers--

1. I have been looking for some simple but interesting halloween crafts/decorations, what is your favourite one to do with your children? please include a link if you have one. 
It's a good thing I didn't wait too much longer to answer!  Hmm.  I'm not the most crafty of people and have been wanting to try the shrunken apple heads my friend Lynne did a year or so ago, but if we're talking Halloween crafts the kids and I have actually done together, I'd guess I'd say salt dough ghosts like these.
2. What is your favourite way to spend a rainy day with your children?
Cozying up on the sofa, reading (aloud or separately) and watching movies.   If I can tie in an enjoyable movie to something we're studying, that's nearing perfection for me.

3. What is your favourite fall food? 
Apples, apples, and apples.  Apple pie, apple crisp, apple-carrot-ginger juice, mulled cider, or just plain, raw, in-their-own-skin apples.  Though that pumpkin spice latte at the corner coffee shop is awfully tasty, too.  I'm working on creating my own non-dairy version at home, but without success as of yet.
4. What is your current favourite read aloud book?
That's a tough one.  We did just finish up The Phantom Tollbooth, narrated by David Hyde Pierce, and it was excellent.  If I had to pick one that *I* enjoyed reading aloud the most, I think it would be Charlotte's Web.  Our current read-aloud is The Master Puppeteer by Katherine Paterson, but we're not far into it enough to know whether or not it will be a favorite.

5. Last one just for Mom..what is your favourite novel? 
That's an easy one.  Pride and Prejudice wins, every time.  And it was even my favorite before Colin Firth was Mr. Darcy.

Now on to the most difficult part of the assignment game: coming up with my own questions!

1. What book from your childhood do you remember the most, and why?
2. What type of music do you enjoy the most?  Please include examples!
3. What subject do you find most challenging (to teach or to learn)?
4. What is your favorite hot drink?  Bonus points for including the recipe!
5. About what new book, movie, or tv series do you want to let others know?

And now for the tagees, in reverse alphabetical order, as that is how my brain is working these days:

Suji at Funschooling
Sheila at Greenridge Chronicles 
Renee at Days with My Daughter
Lynne at 3-Ring-Binder
Cori at Wonder in the Woods

Have fun!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Book Sharing Monday - books from Australia and New Zealand

We're spending an extra week on Australia and New Zealand in our study of the Eastern Hemisphere, as that area is of high interest to the kids, and there are so many resources that we wanted to get through but haven't yet.  Here are some of the books we are using either to substitute in or supplement Sonlight Core 5.

Storm Boy, by Colin Thiele.  Becky over at Farm School recommended this title to me, and we are using it as a read-aloud instead of Island of the Blue Dolphins, which we'd already read.

Stories from the Billabong, by James Vance Marshall and Francis Firebrace.  Interesting artwork and a paragraph of corresponding information accompanies ten Aboriginal plant and animal tales.

"Koala" from Magical Tales from Many Lands, retold by Margaret Mayo and illustrated by Jane Ray.  Other countries represented in this title include China, Russia, India, Peru, France, the Caribbean, Scotland,  South Africa, Japan, and more.

Are We There Yet? A Journey around Australia, by Alison Lester.  A picture book my younger two are enjoying, with a look at many different places around the smallest continent.

Whale Rider, by Witi Ihimaera.  Jazz is having a bit of trouble "getting into" this book (its lyrical style is not his cup of tea), but I know we'll watch the movie (again) this week, anyway.  He's also reading The Boy Who Spoke Dog, by Clay Morgan, which he seems to be enjoying.

Whale's Canoe, a Folk Tale from Australia, retold and illustrated by Joanna Troughton.  An amusing story about a bunch of animals that want to get to a land across the sea.

"The Dreamtime," an Aboriginal creation myth in The Illustrated Book of Myths, retold by Neil Philip and illustrated by Nilesh Mistry.  A DK book with tales from many of the countries we'll be studying this year.

Land of the Long White Cloud: Maori Myths, Tales, and Legends, retold by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and illustrated by Michael Foreman.

River Song, by Belinda Hollyer.  JaneG. is following up Sonlight's reader, Red Sand Blue Sky, with this story of a girl who lives with her Nana in a Maori village until her mother convinces her to move to the city for a time.

Book Sharing Monday is hosted by Canadian Home Learning.  Come share a title or two that you've enjoyed!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Snapshots from September - Museum of Life and Science, Durham

Our journey to North Carolina in September included our third trip to Durham's Museum of Life and Science.  If you are ever in the Triangle area, we highly recommend a visit!  We arrived just after lunchtime, and, since the main building was fairly crowded with school groups, headed right outdoors to the Explore the Wild and Catch the Wind exhibits.

Left: Exploring river ecology  Right: Learning how seeds fly

Catch the Wind!

Top: using sound cannons to make mirrored discs move (and blow each other's hair back)
Bottom left: mist garden  Bottom right: making vapor rings

In addition to these two trails, the youngest of member of the family much enjoyed the dinosaur walk and train ride.  Indoor options include an insect room and butterfly pavilion in an auxiliary building, and weather, gem & fossil, space, germ, and a whole host of other science activities in the main building.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Book Sharing Monday - our latest audiobook

For the past week or so, we have been greatly enjoying David Hyde Pierce's narration of The Phantom Tollbooth.  I loved the story as a kid, and valiantly tried it as a read aloud last spring, but it proved beyond me and we gave up about a third of the way in.  Pierce is amazing in his ability to give voice to the motley assortment of characters we meet on Milo's journey--if I didn't know better I would never have believed that only one person was narrating.  All three children (the almost teenager, the nine-year-old, and the oh-so-picky almost-six-year-old) are loving listening to it and will be sad when it's finished.  Suggestions for what to put in the car next are welcome!

photo by David Shankbone via Wikimedia Commons

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

Friday, October 01, 2010

Snapshots from September - Sylvan Heights

We were recently in North Carolina visiting family, and had the pleasure of visiting Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Park in Scotland Neck.  Even though the weather was a formidable 98 degrees, we enjoyed walking around with our intern-guide, Matt, and learning more about birds from all over the world.  It's definitely worth the drive from the Triangle area!

Clockwise from top left: JaneG. feeding a crane; a Nene (Hawaiian Lava Goose); Jazz talking with a Scarlet Macaw; Scarlet Ibis

Left: Boardwalk to the breeding center.  Right: Bebop feeds the toucan a guide-provided grape; unknown berry (still looking for this one's name--its bright fuchsia color caught both my eye and Jane's)