Friday, March 26, 2010

Owl books and links

We've been watching Molly, the most famous barn owl in the world, as she sits on her nest with first eggs, and now owlets plus eggs at The Owl Box on UStream.  Three of the little ones have hatched, and now we're waiting for the last two to make an appearance.  We've learned a lot just from watching and following the chat, which is moderated and kid-friendly (but the social stream is not, just FYI).  I'm pulling together a list of books and other resources that have been helpful in the past and are currently sources that we turn to as we watch Molly's family expand, hoping that others will find it useful.


picture books:

All About Owls, by Jim Arnosky
The Barn Owls, by Tony Johnston
Owls, by Gail Gibbons
Owl (See How They Grow), DK Publishing (my five-year-old loves this series)
White Owl, Barn Owl, by Nicola Davies (also a five-year-old favorite)
Owls (Animal Predators), by Sandra Markle
Owls, Zoobooks
The Book of North American Owls, by Helen Roney Sattler (gorgeous illustrations and a lot of information--for about 4th grade level and up)
Raptor! A Kid's Guide to Birds of Prey, by C. Laubach, R. Laubach, and C.W.G. Smith (also for about 4th grade level and up)

activity and coloring books:

Owls: On Silent Wings, by Ann C. Cooper (activities, including a lap book of sorts and instructions for an origami owl)
Raptors, a Coloring Album, by Anne Price (lots of written information and realistic drawings to color)
Hidden Feathers, a Creature Camouflage Coloring Book, MindWare


There's an Owl in the Shower, by Jean Craighead George (ages 9 and up)
Hoot, by Carl Hiassen (ages 10 and up)
Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen (all ages)

Other resources

The current Hearts & Trees Winter/Spring Kit, which features (among other things), an owl silhouette art project, a felt owl handicraft to make, and an owls' fact sheet.  Great timing!

One of the moderators posted this link to a pdf of DK's From Egg to Owl.  Thanks, Jessica!

This art journaling idea from Art Projects for Kids.

An owl reading comprehension sheet from abcteach.

The Young Scientists Club kit #30, Owls (part of set 10, which also includes kit #29, Eggs)

Molly's Box on Wordpress, with more links on the Barn Owl Resources page

The Owl Pages

The Barn Owl Trust

eMINTS page about Barn Owls

Hoot, the movie (ages 8 and up)

Hope you enjoy studying owls as much as we have!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Music Monday - Eric Whitacre (b. 1970)

Cloudburst, by American composer Eric Whitacre. His bio can be found here.

Book Sharing Monday - The Door to Time

My reading voice is currently out of commission due to a succession of colds that just will not leave me alone, so I picked up an interesting-sounding audio book at a local library: The Door to Time, by Ulysses Moore.  From the back of the CD case:
In a house on the coast of England, there is a door.  It hides unimaginable mysteries, unavoidable danger, and unbelievable surprises.  When eleven-year-old twins Jason and Julia move into the old mansion with their family, the door is a secret--locked and hidden behind an old wardrobe. 
But Jason, Julia, and their friend Rick are about to discover what lies behind it. . .
Okay, so the premise is a little familiar, but it sounds like something my kids will enjoy.  The Chronicles of Narnia meets The Spiderwick Chronicles meets The 39 Clues?  We'll see.

Book Sharing Monday is hosted at Serendipity.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


The kids and I have been watching Molly the Barn Owl on UStream and got to see Max (owlet 1 of 5) hatch this afternoon.  It's been great fun!

The Owl Box

A couple of blurry captured screen shots:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

So many books. . .

I started this entry in February some time and decided it's time to get it out, whether or not it's complete.  I fear it's not--more and more books keep finding their way into my library bag and my towering TBR stacks.  A book showed up on my request list that I didn't remember ILL-ing, and then I found out my town's librarian put it there for me as she knew it was a book I would love.  I'm reading it now and it's great, so hey, bring them on!

I've been reading like a fiend for several weeks now, but I thought I might come out of my cave to say "hey" to any of you who might still be around, and to post the books that have so enthralled me of late.  Thank goodness for the "My Reading History" feature on the local library network's website, or I'd never remember most of the titles.

Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater.  I can't resist a good werewolf story.  And this is a good one, with some original aspects to lupine lore.  Told from alternating perspectives, the story is none-the-less easy to follow and beautifully told.  The author has a lyrical way with words and I've now read her other two books (Lament and Ballad, both of which I loved) and I can't wait until Linger (book two in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series) is released in July.  

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins.  When I first found out that The Hunger Games was set in a dystopian future, I decided to give it a miss.  I'd had enough depressing visual images from that one time I watched the news and really didn't need any more rattling around in my brain (kidding about the one time, not about the images, or the reason).  But the buzz over this book was so great that I finally gave in, especially after DS (then 11) devoured the author's other series, the Underland Chronicles (which begins with Gregor the Overlander).  One word: RUN.  Run right now to your library or bookstore and start reading.  No, wait--I take it back.  Hold off until the third book in the trilogy (Mockingjay) comes out in the fall, and read all three in quick succession.  Otherwise, like me, you'll be dying to read the last part of the story every time you think about the first two books.  Gossip around the GoodReads water cooler says that The Hunger Games is being made into a movie to be released some time in 2011.

When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead.  Liked it.  Didn't fall in love with the characters as I thought I would based on the reviews.

City of BonesCity of Ashes, and City of Glass, by Cassandra Clare.  Easy reads, good characters, storyline sucked me in.  Waiting for book four.

Soulless, by Gail Carriger.  Amelia Peabody meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer (sort of) in Steampunk- Victorian England.  Fun, fun, fun!  Book two in The Parasol Protectorate series (I kid you not) comes out March 30th, and I will be reading it.

A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray, and the sequels.  Liked them.

Jane Bites Back, by Michael Thomas Ford. Fun.  Will definitely catch the sequel, Jane Goes Batty.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Seth Grahame-Smith  Didn't finish it.  I love P&P and have read it countless times, but couldn't get into this one.  It might have been the cover.

According to Jane, by Marilyn Brant
Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler
Pride, Prejudice, and Jasmin Field, by Melissa Nathan

Enjoyed all three of these at the time and now they all run together in my head.  The middle one involves  body-swapping a la Freaky Friday, IIRC.

Murder at Longbourn, by Tracy Kiely.  Very well done, indeed.

The Actor and the Housewife, by Shannon Hale.  Good book, had would have liked a different ending.

Remarkable Creatures, by Tracy Chevalier and Rosemary and Rue, by Seanan McGuire.  These two books couldn't be more different, but they both have something in common.  The first is historical fiction based on the life of Mary Anning, the Fossil Girl, and the second seems like a fantastical version of Oliver Twist meets Peter Pan.  But both books' descriptions made me think that I would like reading them, though just not right now, so I've put them back on my "to read" list once more, for when books like City of Ashes or Shiver do not beckon.

Speak, and Catalyst, by Laurie Halse Anderson.  Read both of these in one gulp.  The author has a way of sucking me right into her characters' lives.

Need, by Carrie Jones.  Requested the sequel as soon as I finished this one.

Now reading Spellwright, by Blake Charlton, Not Becoming My Mother, by Ruth Reichl, and La's Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Book Sharing Monday - Eggs!

Our part of New England has been fortunate (in my eyes) to have both a mild winter and an early spring this year.  Though it may be 38 degrees and rainy today, in two days it's supposed to be 59 and sunny, which sounds like heaven.  

Nature study is a big part of a Charlotte Mason education, and while we may not get outdoors quite as much as I would like, the type of science my kids gravitate toward lends itself very well to the study of nature.  Recently, I've been putting books about birds, eggs, and life cycles in their workboxes, and they've been a big hit.   Here are a couple of our favorites, with a more exhaustive list at the end.

An Egg is Quiet, by Dianna Aston (author) and Sylvia Long (illustrator)

From the same team that brought us A Seed is Sleepy, this beautiful book is short on words, but long on enjoyment.  The pictures, from endpapers to endpapers and everything in between, are meticulously drawn and softly tinted.  And while there isn't a ton of information presented, what is here is apt to provoke some interesting observations and discussions.

Eggs, by Marilyn Singer (author) and Emma Stevenson (illustrator)

This book about eggs has much more written text than the one above, and was enjoyed by my eight- and twelve-year-olds.  Published in 2008, it is the illustrator's first book.  I hope we see more by her!

Other books and resources we used in this unit: 

Ducks Don't Get Wet (Goldin & Davie; a Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science book)
Falcons Nest on Skyscrapers (Jenkins & Lloyd; a Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science book)
A Nest Full of Eggs (Jenkins & Rockwell; a Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science book)
How Do Birds Find Their Way? (Gans & Mirocha; a Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science book)
Lemon the Duck (Backman & Cleyet-Merle; for a teacher's guide for this book, go here)
From Egg to Chicken (Ganeri)
Animals in Flight (Jenkins & Page)
How Animals Grow (Llewellyn)
The Egg (Jeunesse, de Bourgoing, & Mettler)
Bird Songs (Franco & Jenkins)
What Bluebirds Do (Kirby)
A Duckling is Born (Isenbart & Baumli)
The Life Cycle of a Duck (Hipp & Kuhn)
From Egg to Bird (Reidel)
Duckling (Magloff)

Bill Nye the Science Guy: Birds
Birds of a Feather (Reading Rainbow)
All about Birds
All about Animal Life Cycles
Life of Birds

Book Sharing Monday is hosted by Serendipity Home School.

What kind of book are you?

Saw this over at Reading to Know--the perfect thing to make a rainy Monday more fun!  Those of you who know me--I don't think this will come as a shocker. ☺

You Are Fantasy / Sci Fi
You have an amazing imagination, and in your mind, all things are possible.
You are open minded, and you find the future exciting. You crave novelty and progress.

Compared to most people, you are quirky and even a bit eccentric. You have some wacky ideas.
And while you may be a bit off the wall, there's no denying how insightful and creative you are.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Iditarod XXXVIII

The 2010 Iditarod started yesterday, with the official restart happening today in Willow at 2 p.m. Alaska time. So far we are following Zoya DeNure, Jeff King (who announced this is likely to be his last Iditarod), Hugh Neff, and Judy Currier, who was the very last musher to leave. Find my 2009 posts with many, many related resources here.

Sorry about the formatting problems. Will look into it.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Now you see me. . .

I tend to retreat to my cave in the depth of winter, but the spring-like weather we're expecting this weekend should wake me up a bit, so I'm hoping to blog with a bit more regularity.  Plus I'm fresh out of interesting YA books to read, which leaves me with more time on my hands.

In addition to all the reading I've been doing, one thing I've been working on lately is creating some worksheets to go with various "Let's Read and Find Out Science" books, which series is a favorite of DD (8).

Here are a couple for What Color is Camouflage? by Carolyn Otto (author) and Megan Lloyd (illustrator):

What’s Your Color

What Color is Camouflage

For copywork to go along with this book I'd suggest the following sentences (from the same book):

Camouflage can be a certain color, or pattern of colors, or a special shape that fools the eye.  Animal camouflage is a kind of disguise.  It makes an animal hard to see.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Music Monday - Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)

Happy Birthday, Chopin!

While it is difficult to choose one favorite work amongst a sea of gorgeous music by the Polish composer, the one that wins (most days) with me is the G Minor Ballade, written in 1836:

Played here by Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman.

Born in Warsaw, Chopin moved to Paris in 1831 and became friends with Franz Liszt.  This friendship, and Chopin's association with the novelist George Sand (Aurore Dudevant) is portayed in the 1991 movie Impromptu, starring Hugh Grant as Chopin, Judy Davis as Sand, and Julian Sands as Liszt.  I highly recommend the film, although, since the last time I saw the movie was twelve or so years ago, I haven't yet watched it with a parent's eyes, so I'd suggest careful reviewing before sharing with younger family members.  It is rated PG-13.

Links of interest:

Chopin Music: extensive information on the works of Chopin
Classics for Kids shows about Chopin, plus a pdf of their activity sheet about the composer
The UK's Chopin Society has an article about the mystery of Chopin's birthday
Classical TV's Chopin page
The comprehensive resource of The Poet of the Piano, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year

"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art." ~Frédéric Chopin