Thursday, May 30, 2013

Have you seen the Horrible Science series?

Every now and then while browsing the library book sale cart we hit on a golden find, and last weekend was one of those times.  We found 7 books in the "Horrible Science" series by Nick Arnold.  I linked one of them above.  I'm telling you both boys are simply loving these books, reading and running to me telling me gross pieces of information.  The books are chapter books basically but have cartoons, quizzes, case history types of things, diagrams, etc., so reading level is easy for Noah even, but Zach is interested in the information as well.  They are really well done to fit the elementary ages, more interesting than say the Usborne encyclopedias (those are a bit dry for Noah at times though great pictures), but still packed with info. 

Here is the author's site as well for anyone interested in some extra fun:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Book review: Happy by Mies Van Hout

Happy by Mies Van Hout is a simple picture book for younger children.  I picked this up for Eden (age 2), but the simple bold-colored fish on a black background appealed to the whole family.  The drawings have the appearance of colored chalks on a blackboard, the media itself of course children can relate to.  Our lovers of sidewalk chalk here certainly were enthralled.

Each 2-page spread shows a colorful fish on one side and an emotion word on the other page, simple, clear, elegant.  Eden loved the pictures, and we went over putting a word to the expression depicted by the fish.  For the older kids (Lily and Noah, ages 5 and 7), we talked about what specific features of the fish were able to tell us the emotion (smile, eyes, eyebrows, etc).  This is an important concept for kids, and being able to dissect and pinpoint the different aspects of facial and body language is difficult for them, especially if they suffer from some types of neurological disorders.  Zach with his ADHD finds this especially difficult even at 10 years old.

This book appeals obviously to young children as simply fun and an introduction to emotion words, but can be used in a more advanced way with young school age children, and even older children needing a very simple visual of face and body clues (even on a fish!) to help decipher emotional cues. 

LONG time no blog

Yeah, my blog has been neglected.  What have we been doing?  LOTS.  Just not blogging.  haha

This year was Zach's 5th grade year, Noah's 2nd, Lily's kindergarten year and Eden ... well she's a toddler and into everything.  It was busy, busy, busy, but we're gaining control again as the year winds down. 

For my own history and entertainment, I'll be going back and reporting in on what we used this year, at least some of it.  We had some hits and misses, like most years. 

We loosely followed Tapestry of Grace for history, still working on year 4 (modern).  It suits us okay, but not perfectly.  I'm still needing something that is a better fit honestly, and would prefer secular I think, blending my own religion in on an independent basis.  I love the 4-year cycle and won't be deviating from that.  We need lots and lots of real books, lots of fiction to delve into and a structured core guideline for this tired mom of 4 to follow.  The brief stint of my making my own lesson plans completely was fun, educational and challenging, but not something I can do all seasons year after year.  I don't have that much time and energy to spare.  So I'm still looking for that perfect history/core of lesson plans.  Sonlight worked for a while, but I already discussed why we left that.  Tapestry of Grace was our next choice, again nice but not perfect for us.  Still hunting...   Oh, and it needs to be multilevel because I've got a bit gap between oldest and youngest in our crew, typical for all larger families.

Language arts:  Yep, we left Writing with Ease pretty much now.  It was interesting and we used all four levels for Zach, getting Writing with Skill this year.  I fought change on this, even when I saw more and more that it did not fit him.  Shame on me.  We moved over to something that works much, much better for my nonwriter son, Winning with Writing.  Those of you who have a creative lover of writing aren't going to find this a fit likely.  Those of you with someone who hates English with a passion just might find something your kid (and thus you!) can stand to do.  Noah also used level 1 of this program this year, and he likes it too.  They can do it mostly independently (read the instructions, do the work, divided by weeks and down to the day).  I check it, and we move on.  Or, in Zach's case, I make him redo it (up to 10 times a day), and then we move on.  He still hates writing, but his skill in writing is improving nonetheless.  That makes it a winner here.  I find it less interesting to teach, but then again I don't fight as much with him over doing it, so I can live with that. 

More later .... kids are ready for me to teach!