Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May 2011 Reading List

I've found that with our new routine, I'm reading to the kids more. I am happy about this :) I'm going to keep reviewing books, but not all of our selections. I'll be adding pictures of titles to the bottom of my monthly reading post as well to keep up with our log.

It's official. The kids are totally into this series now. We're able to read at a pretty fast pace, as the chapters are short. Nicholas is also able to do some of the reading outloud, so it's good practice for him and nice for me to get a break! We  finished this book a little quicker than I expected, so I've gone ahead and ordered the next two books from the library. I'm planning on using the library's down-loadable audio collection for the later books in the series as well.
I brought this home for Nicholas because he is in movie-making mode lately. I loved that the story had the kids start with script writing, which is exactly what I keep encouraging him to do. The plot was clever and showed the characters going through creative thinking, editing, problem solving, etc. It was a simple story, easy enough to breeze through in one sitting, and both kids enjoyed listening to me read aloud. 

Had I thought about it in advance, I would have read this book before going to Disney, instead of after. This book tells the story of a vacationing family with two children, each prepared for the trip with a camera that prints small stickers of the photos taken. The story didn't necessarily grab the attention of the kids, but it did get my wheels turning and am now thinking about what kind of photo opportunities and lessons I could incorporate in our next big trip, which will have us driving across country to New Mexico this fall.
This is my new favorite children's book. A story about our many moods, shown in various colors. The illustrations were added a great many years later, by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. I enjoyed this book more than the kids, I think. I just love the idea of using colors and animals to explain my varying moods. Today, for example, I'm having a "Bright Blue Day", where I can flap my wings. "Some days, of course, feel sort of Brown. Then I feel slow and low, low down."

In looking over some new curriculum choices for next year, I found a great list of stories that incorporate math, like "Mooove Over!", a skip counting book about a pushy cow. I found it to be funny and so did the kids. Short, sweet, laughable. I plan on reading it a few more times before our borrowing time is up, just trying to get the idea of counting by 2's familiar to Sydney. I was also able to find a dvd picture book copy of Two of Everything at the library. A clever folktale that also helps illustrate the idea of doubling.

Caillou, the famous whiny kid from PBS, has a new series of books and toys out called the "Ecology Club". This story explains composting in its very basic form, comparing it to magic as it interests Caillou. We also read the book "Every Drop Counts" from the series. Gardening and composting are family interests right now, so this series got my attention. The books are printed on 100% recycled paper using soy ink, just an interesting tid bit. I found some activities to coordinate with the series here.

I know there is much debate over where to start in the Chronicles of Narnia series, by publication date or by story order, but I decided to go with the suggestion of a friend and start with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. My original plan was to use a website's free audio to listen to the whole series, but for now we are reading a paperback that I have had stashed away. I think we may bounce back and forth between reading some novels in the series and using the audio for others. I've promised the kids we can watch the movies after we read each book as well, although Nic has already seen them.



Sunday, May 8, 2011

Routine vs. Schedule : preparing for a new school year

I was wandering around the forums on secular homeschooling and found a great thread that spoke of routines and the desire to have a schedule for the original poster's homeschooling day. The replies were encouraging, offered much support, and much to my surprise even offered up the difference in a routine vs. a schedule and why a routine is much more likely to work. 
I usually find myself using the words interchangeably, something like this, "I made another schedule and it all worked out on paper but in real life I failed." Or, "If we could just stick to the routine then the school work would get finished and I wouldn't have panic attacks just thinking about next school year." Next Year is this thing that dangles over my head right now, the thing that scares me to my core because NEXT YEAR of course, I send in official paperwork stating that I am homeschooling not one but TWO children. SO here I am, attempting to make a plan so that I can rest easy. 
As one poster pointed out, a routine is something that becomes a habit, whereas a schedule is a point of time when something needs to be done. So, blocking out our day around meal times (which is super common I'm learning) is more of a routine and not a schedule, and its more likely that it will be successful. I'm reading that a routine can also include days for different routines, like playgroups, field trips, dr. appointments, etc. I'm liking the term "routine" more and more! 
Our school year won't be ending this summer, instead I've decided to go the year-round route and simply transition in August to the next grade levels. I would like to implement some new routines between now and then as well as try out some new curriculum options as well. I'm starting simply, with breakfast first followed by chores and then reading on the couch as a family. At least now I feel like I'm actually helping myself out, instead of setting myself up for failure! 


April 2011 Reading List

Junie B. Jones is in first grade in this book, we went ahead and read out of order because it was about an Easter egg hunt. Sydney really got a kick out of this one, I could hear her laughing on the night that daddy read a chapter for bedtime - one of the characters called another kid a "springy little lamb" and she was all over it!! 

This book had to come home from the library with us, AGAIN. It's clever and witty, and makes all of us laugh with twisted humor as we read aloud on the couch. Without peanut butter on our fingers of course ;)

This was a listen on cd experience that Nicholas and I enjoyed together, with Sydney occasionally listening in while playing on the computer. I was unfamiliar with this classic and didn't realize how dark of a story it actually is. I liked that this version of the story had pages of information about London at the time it was written, lots of good history to read before we even jumped into the story. Listening to stories on cd has been hot or miss here, but it's worth it to me to keep trying. 

To prepare for the science fair, Sydney and I read a few books about the transformation of caterpillars into butterflies. One of my favorites is from a childhood series of mine, a Just Ask book. One book used to come in the mail each month and I remember how excited I would get when it arrived!

Nic and I have picked back up in our Harry Potter reading. We are currently on Chapter 26 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (book 4). Our interest was re-sparked by visiting the Hogsmeade village and Hogwarts Castle in Universal Studios, Florida. We both used our souvenir money to buy wands from Ollivanders as well :)