Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Moving Beyond the Page: Culture Unit

We have been dabbling in using Moving Beyond the Page here and there for a couple years now.  I started with just individual units for Zach, mainly literature units to supplement what he was already studying.  Then, as I mentioned earlier in the year, I purchased the entire age 4-5 curriculum for Eden.  That is going really, really well given that I also got the supply kit.  I cannot emphasize what a stress reliever it is to have everything I need for her all organized and ready.  Without that, I think she would fall right through the cracks of daily life in terms of our homeschooling.  As pre-K, she is last priority this year in terms of concrete curriculum. 

Given that the above was going so incredibly well, I got a unit for Lily too this semester.  She usually just tags along with Noah for most things, keeping my life a little easier, but her social studies of Medieval Times, while fun this year, was sometimes a little hard for her personally.  This Culture Unit seemed just the thing for her age, and I have started it on the one day a week when the boys are in on-site classes but she is home with Eden and me.  We are going to look at geography and world cultures geared for age 6-8. 

Our first day, we are looking at an intro to geography and maps, and opened with this book:



A little Armadillo from Texas decides to take a trip to find out where in the world he actually is.  He starts out on foot, mailing postcards back to his cousin in the zoo in Texas.  He travels across plains to cities, further out, meets an eagle who lets him fly higher to see further, onto a rocket ship to go higher, etc. 

The words are rhyming, keeping interest of the kids, very lyrical to read aloud.  Each 2-page spread has great illustrations. 

This book is obviously most interesting if you are from Texas or Amarillo, but for any elementary child it can serve as a jump point to talk about geography and location, a common thing to teach around 1st grade or so.  The book goes from ground to city to state to country to continent to planet, etc.  That is exactly how we used this book, a fun fictional account to lead us into our study of geography with a 2nd grader and a pre-K child. 

The book actually reminds me of a more updated version of this book we found used and have used as a fun fictional account of world geography:



Both books are excellent to introduce geography in a more engaging way than just - this is a map, blah, blah, blah.  Some kids really are into nonfiction and want just the facts, but most of mine I found loved the fictional stuff.  In terms of Moving Beyond the Page, they used our Armadillo to lead up to an Usborne title, Usborne Children's Picture Atlas, which actually is good too.  Lily is absolutely loving her first day of this though, and I couldn't be happier.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Brother printer - today's Amazon Gold Box Deal

I had to share today's Amazon Gold Box Deal because it is the printer we use, and it has saved us a lot versus the old inkjet we had.   The price today is $55, good deal, but anyone who does a lot of printing knows the cost is really the ink not the actual printer.  Though I will say this has lasted us without issues or problems, either directly connected or via wireless connections to our Mac (problems in the past with that with other printers).   I use off brand cartridges from Amazon without problems, so it is fast, does duplex printing and is economical. I miss the color ability sometimes but not too much really.  Just sharing for those in the market for a new printer. 


Monday, September 15, 2014

The Little Island



This is Eden's craft of the morning.  The other three are all taking on-site classes on Mondays, so it is just the two of us.  So quiet!

She is working on Moving Beyond the Page Age 4-5 this year as her curriculum, and we are just loving it.  There is a book each week, and activities surrounding that book.  This week is The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown.  This is a cute little book, simple enough for the preschool set to listen to and enjoy, but meaty enough for some naturalistic learning.  There is a little island in the ocean, and we see the visitors to the island throughout the seasons, very cute.  In Eden's craft for today, she created her island (the white is the island, blue the water around it), and then placed the correct number of die-cut trees and bushes on the island - practicing her counting of course.  She cut out her rock for the island, and then added the firefly stickers.  This one was a huge hit for her.  I can't say enough good about Moving Beyond the Page.  We got the supplies kit, and I love pulling out the baggie of activities for the week with my stickers, die-cuts, etc.  Left to my own devices, I would not be hunting up die-cut trees and bushes.  This is just such a good blend of literature, crafts and more traditional learning for us (letters, numbers, etc). 


Friday, September 12, 2014






As I mentioned, we are working on "notebooking" this year for science and history, more interactive way of taking notes and documenting.  This is a picture Zach worked on from his Elemental Science Logic Stage Biology.  We love Elemental Science.  They provide nice student pages with space for notes and places or outlines of sketches.  I had him copy the sketch into his laboratory notebook and then label and add color.  Then, he did his laboratory writeup in the pages afterwards for the week instead of doing them in the student pages.  We used the student pages last year, and they were certainly adequate, but with our focus this year I wanted more and chose to go this way.  He continues to do his lab with a buddy each week, which adds some extra fun into his studies. 

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Book Review: Turn of the Century by Jackson



My kids loved this one. Each 2-page spread is about a child in that time period, beginning with 1000 AD. We used this in our introduction to the Middle Ages. My kids are 4, 6, 9 and 12 at the time of reading. All of them enjoyed it, even the 4yo, though her mostly the pictures. 

The kids depicted in the book ranged from about 8 to 12 I think. There was a narrative as if written by that child, followed by a bullet point list of facts about that time period. It was kept brief and entertaining. The art style was excellent. Some of the facts though were a bit gruesome (chamber pots, illness, life on board ship including eating rats, hanging), so read first if your kids are sensitive, but it was honest, keeping with the brutality of the times. It wasn't presented in a depressed or glorified way, but rather to educate.

This one gets 4 stars from us for excellent entertainment value with a nice balance of factual information.  With the range of ages we have, it is sometimes hard for us to find books that appeal across the group, and this one did a very good job.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf

We did a little more in Science Through Children's Literature today, this time talking about seasons and leaves falling, and read a book, The Fall of Freddie the Leaf.  This was an incredible book for all of us, one I hadn't seen before today.



I can't say enough good about this book.   The youngest got a little from it, but it really struck the 12yo.

Freddie is a leaf on a tree in a public space.  He tells us about himself and his friends, the other leaves.  He tells us about the spring and summer, the winds, the people who come to enjoy the shade.  Then he starts to change colors in the fall, and tells us about that.  He questions his wise friend, Daniel, another leaf, about what is next.  Daniel explains to him that they are changing colors and that the leaves are dying and falling in the winter, but that it is okay, they are all part of Life.  Freddie is frightened about dying, and Daniel reassures him and comforts him. 

On the surface this book is about the seasons of the tree.  But, of course, that is not all.  This book is about Life and Death, passing from one season to another in a year and in life. 

There are pictures of trees as the illustrations, a picture for most 2-page spreads but not every set.  There is a paragraph or two for most 2-page spreads.  This is a wonderful picture book for the elementary into middle school years really.  It is a beautiful story for all ages. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Science Through Children's Literature

We love teaching/learning through living books and always have.  Below I talked about Art Through Children's Literature, and now I'll share some of what we are doing with Science Through Children's Literature.  The science has two levels, beginning and intermediate.  We are working on the beginning one with all, Zach for review, the rest maybe some new information.

Today, we talked about trees, using A Tree is Nice as the introduction story.  Honestly, despite this being a Caldecott Winner, I wasn't terribly impressed with this book.  The shape being tall and narrow like a tree was an interesting feature, and the illustrations (alternating color and pencil) were nice, but the vocabulary and sentence structure were bland to the extreme.  It read like one of those tortuous level 1 readers kids try out when first learning to sound out words.  Needless to say, my kids were a bit bored with this one. 

We are notebooking this year though as our note taking activity, so we all then got out the science notebooks to write down something we learned.  Lily made a beautiful picture to illustrate her coniferous/deciduous distinction in her notebook.