Monday, 30 November 2009

Book Sharing Monday and 100 books-a-month challenge update


For Book Sharing Monday today, I am being assisted by Celeste! This was her pick, and she wanted to hold the book while I took the photos.
She chose "The First Dog" by Jan Brett. Celeste has enjoyed every Jan Brett we have read, but this one she loved...I am guessing because we have our own puppy. I know that we all enjoyed reading about the adventure of Kip, the young prehistoric boy that befriends a wolf, which becomes the first domesticated dog. The story is full of prehistoric animals and the illustrations are amazing, along with all the art in the borders of each page, inspired by cave paintings and artifacts from that time period.


Look at that Saber-Tooth cat!



"Finally, Kip made a speech. He said: "Wolfy, if you will use your keen nose and your fine ears and your sharp eyes to keep me from being eaten up, I promise to share with you all the Wooly Rhino ribs and even Mammoth meat that I cook over my fire."



a girl and her dog

Celeste and her dog, Orion




Today marks the last day of November, and the last day for the 100 Books-A-Month Challenge! We made it, we read more than 100 books this month. We enjoyed reading a mix of non-fiction, fiction novels, lots of picture books, graphic novels and even a couple baby board books (Celeste likes to get these from the library still!).
I printed at the beginning of the month a hundred chart (the ones we use for math) for the kids to be able to see our progress through the month. I put it in a page protector sleeve and used dollar store stickers to keep track of the books. Whenever I added a book to my log on the computer, I asked the kids to add the stickers to this chart.

100 books a month challenge chart (November)
If you would like to participate in this challenge, please visit home-grown kids for all the details.
Here is our list of all 100 books read this month...that's going to make this post very long!

November 2009

The Luck of the Loch Ness Monster by A.W. Flaherty
The Gruffalo by Julia Donadlson
If you take a mouse to the movies by L. Numeroff
The Ravioli Kid by Michelle Freedman
Monsters by L. R. Penner
Atlantis the Lost City ? by A. Donkin
Two Days in May by h.P. Taylor
Bambi by Janet Schulman
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World by M. Hoffman
Library Mouse a friend’s tale by D. Kirk
Shark and Lobster’s Amazing Undersea Adventure
Baby Penguin at Home
Every day’s a holiday
Usborne First words: people
Chipmunk’s ABC
Olivia helps with Christmas
I’ll be home for Christmas
The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers
Christmas Trolls by Jan Brett
Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett
The Hungry Coat by Demi
Justice League Adventures The Magnificent Seven
Leaping Lizards by Stuart J. Murphy
Monster Musical Chairs by Stuart J. Murphy
Bug Dance by Stuart J. Murphy
Behind the Curtain: Hansel and Gretel by Christian Thee
It’s a Baby Zebra! By Kelly Doudna
Zebras by Jill Anderson
Deer at the Brook by Jim Arnosky
Peter and the Secret of Rundoon by Dave Barry
Max Disaster #1 - Alien Eraser to the Rescue
The Snowflake Sisters by J.P. Lewis
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
Hieronymus Betts and his Unusual Pets by M.P. Robertson
Buzzboy by John Gallagher
Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Institute by J. J. Krosoczka
Rock-A-Bye Baby by Heather Collins
Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians by J. Krosoczka
Trucks Go by Steve Light
Furry Friends Same and Different by Sami
Bob and 6 more Christmas Stories by Sandra Boynton
Les Camions by Usborne
Sarah’s Little Ghosts by Thierry Robberrecht
Home Lovely by Lynne Rae Perkins
Something Queer is Going on by Elisabeth Levy
Weird Parents by Audrey Wood
The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett
The Pea Blossom retold by Amy Lowry Poole
Once upon a tomb - gravely humorous verses by J.P. Lewis
Utterly Otterly Day by Mary Casanova
The Winter Trail Disney’s Bambi
Barbie The Holiday Gift
Auntie Claus
Artemis Fowl : The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfre
Imagine you’re a wizard by Meglin
Imagine a Dragon by Laurence Pringle
Walt Disney His Life in Pictures
Imagine you’re a mermaid by mer meg
Autumn An Alphabet Acrostic by Steven Schnur
River of Dreams The Story of The Hudson River by Hudson Talbott
Six Swans A folktale retold by Christine San Jose
Whose Chick are you? By Nancy Tafuri
Little Swan by Jonathon London
Amazing Animals Swans by Valerie Bodden
Artemis Fowl : The Opal Deception by Eoin Colfer
Swans by Nicole Helget
The Loch Ness Monster Jr. Graphic Mysteries by J. Demolay
Amelia’s Most Unforgettable Embarrassing Moments by Marissa Moss
Fantastic Creatures - Investigations into the unexplained by Ivor Baddiel
Amelia’s 6th Grade Notebook by Marissa Moss
The Book of Beasts by E. Nesbitt
Marvelous Mattie by Emily Arnold McCully
The Inside-Outside Book of Libraries by Roxie Munro and Julie Cummin
Cardcaptor Sakura #1 by Clamp
Max Disaster #2 Alien Eraser Unravels the Mystery of the Pyramids
Max Disaster #3 Alien Eraser Reveals the Secrets of Evolution
The Cobweb Christmas by Shirley Climo
Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss
Card captor #2 by Clamp
When Santa Fell to Earth by Cornelia Funke
Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony by Eoin Colfer
A Forest of Stories: Magical Tree Tales from Around the World retold by Rina Singh
Max Finder Mystery Vol. 3 by Liam O’Donnell
Christmas is Coming by Anne Bowen
Auntie Claus and the Key to Christmas by Elise Primavera
Honk, Honk, Goose! Canada Goose Start a Family by April Pulley Sayre
Honk! Honk! A Story of Migration by Mick Manning
Bird, Butterfly, Eel by James Prosek
Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer
The First Dog by Jan Brett
The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett
Harvey’s Hare’s Christmas by Bernadette Watts
It never rains in Antarctica and other freaky facts about climate, land, and nature by B.Seuling
The Princess and the Pea (the Barefoot Book of Princesses)
The Sleeping Beauty (the Barefoot of Princesses)
The Emperor’s New Clothes (Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales)
Utterly Otterly Day by Mary Casanova
Lucy and the Sea Monster To The Rescue by Karen Dolby (Young Puzzle Adventure)
Clifford’s Christmas by N. Bridwell
The Trouble with Tink by K. Thorpe
How Santa Lost his Job by Stephen Krensky
Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke

Monday, 23 November 2009

Book Sharing Monday

"River of Dreams: The Story of the Hudson River" by Hudson Talbott is two books in one, a beautifully illustrated living book, and a history of the Hudson River. I picked this book up at the library because of its cover (a common reason for me!), but was so pleased to find out that it was educational as well.
At the beginning of the book, we read about the different tribes of first people that made the river their home for thousands of years. We then find out about Henry Hudson, a British Explorer working for the Dutch. The story keeps going through the years, from the 1600's to today, explaining the various battles, Fulton's Steamboat, the Erie Canal, and much more.
The author explains how the river attracted artists as well as all the traders and business men. We arrive in the 20th century and the pollution that comes with all the factories, garbage, and sewage, accumulated over those prosperous years.
I don't want to give the whole story away, but I appreciated reading about Franny Reese and her actions that helped the Hudson River.

"Many new laws and new citizens' groups have been inspired by those early heroes of the environment, and their work has begun to bring the Hudson River back to life.
The Mahicans called it "The River That Flows Both Ways". Slowly we are learning that taking care of the river is the only way that the river can take care of us."









You can read more about the efforts of Scenic Hudson and their quest to protect the Hudson River and the valley.



Sunday, 22 November 2009

Public Speaking Event for Homeschoolers


Last night we attended a public speaking event hosted by a local home school group. When I had mentioned the event to my kids, they all said they did not want to participate, but would like to go and listen to the other kids. Andre kept on telling me through the day that he was not going up there to make a speech, even on the ride over to the meeting place, he said it again! I reassured him that we were only going there to watch, listen, and show our support to the other children.
After the first few speeches, Andre whispered that he wanted to go up. He said he was going to share the Christmas story that he wrote a couple of years ago. I was really surprised and asked him if he was sure, and if he remembered it enough. He said yes!
Once his age group was called, he put his hand up and went to the podium.
I couldn't be prouder of what came next. Andre delivered his story clearly, not too fast or slow, and it felt like he had everyone's attention. He seemed very serious up there, but then his story is a bit sad, with a sentimental ending.
I remember when he first gave me the story, it was in December 2007. We had paused our regular homeschooling work and were doing some Christmas-theme learning. I had the kids write a short story and this is what he wrote:

The Day I Saw Santa
By Andre Dekerf - December 3, 2007

The snow was falling on Christmas Eve and I heard some bells in the distance.
I woke up and ran to my window.
I looked out and I saw people ringing bells and singing.
I looked up and saw Santa riding on his sleigh and I saw his eight reindeer.
Then he landed on our roof. I quickly hopped in my bed and went to sleep.
The next morning I found I had no presents.
There was a letter for me. It said “I am not giving you a present because you saw me”.
I burst into tears. I knew that I would never get a present.
But then I realized I had not lost something.
I had my family and it was mine to keep forever.
The end.


I had tears in my eyes when I first read his sweet short story, and again last night when I listened to him share it with the audience. It's so simple and short, but right to the point. We have always tried to teach our children that family is very important, and that time spent together was precious. I was so happy to see that Andre, at 8, already understood that. That Christmas, we printed his story on paper, rolled it and tied it with a red ribbon. We gave a copy to each of our family members that we visited.
Last night was a success for Andre, but also for each of the home school kids that went up, battled their nerves, and presented their own speeches. Some recited poems, others had personal stories about fishing or hockey, even braces! It was great to see and listen to all of them. After the speeches, all the kids played and the parents got a chance to chat. A great night!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Art using "Drawing with Children"


Adrienne's bird


Celeste's bird


Andre's bird



We have been learning how to draw using this book by Mona Brookes. I read the "preliminaries" chapters at the end of the summer, but still wasn't sure how to really teach my children until I found a lesson plan at Donna Young's website. Once I read over her explanations, I was ready to start. Over the last two months, we have been slowly completing all the beginning exercises and trying to learn how to do conducive relaxation (which more often than not ends in giggles!).
I was surprised to see how much my children enjoyed doing these simple exercises, practicing the five elements of shape (see the first photo).
Today's lesson was called "Wow! I can draw!" The exercise was to draw a bird, with me reading out the instructions. They didn't see any examples, so nothing to copy from. I think their birds turned out great and they did a great job following the directions read to them.
I drew along with them, but my bird isn't quite finished yet. I need to finish colouring it. Once it is finished, I will post it on my create corner blog.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Book Sharing Monday ~ Art















I found these two books in the city library, in the art section and have tried a few pages with my children. The two I picked up are part of a series called "Discovering Paintings" done in association with The National Gallery of London. I found the "Myths & Legends" and the "Grisly & Gruesome", other titles in the series are "Out & About" and "Saints".

Both books are interactive, and give lots of suggestions for questions and activities related to the paintings. Each painting also provides a short story to read about it and another painting on a similar theme to compare and contrast with the first one.
A great series to discover art with, while snuggling on the couch.

The "Myths & Legends" has paintings chosen mostly from Ancient Greek or Roman myths. I took photos of the pages so you could see parts of the activities. Each painting covers 2 double pages.

The "Grisly & Gruesome" book truly has some gruesome paintings in it, so it might not be best for everyone! The last 2 photos are from that book (Vanitas Still Life), I chose the mildest painting of the whole book to share with you.

The quote is from the Vanitas Still Life pages. It is the introduction to the painting:

"At first glance, this quiet still life might not seem very grisly to you. However, the skull is a clue that each object contains a secret message. They have all, in fact, been carefully chose to make viewers think about death and how quickly life goes by."



Friday, 13 November 2009

Update on 100 books a month challenge and on NaNoWriMo


A week and a bit has passed since we took on this challenge and we are up to 30 books so far. We are planning a trip to the library near our house this afternoon, and tomorrow we'll visit the city library too!
Here is our list so far:

The Luck of the Loch Ness Monster by A.W. Flaherty
The Gruffalo by Julia Donadlson
If you take a mouse to the movies by L. Numeroff
The Ravioli Kid by Michelle Freedman
Monsters by L. R. Penner
Atlantis the Lost City ? by A. Donkin
Two Days in May by h.P. Taylor
Bambi by Janet Schulman
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World by M. Hoffman
Library Mouse a friend’s tale by D. Kirk
Shark and Lobster’s Amazing Undersea Adventure
Baby Penguin at Home
Every day’s a holiday
Usborne First words: people
Chipmunk’s ABC
Olivia helps with Christmas
I’ll be home for Christmas
The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers
Christmas Trolls by Jan Brett
Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett
The Hungry Coat by Demi
Justice League Adventures The Magnificent Seven
Leaping Lizards by Stuart J. Murphy
Monster Musical Chairs by Stuart J. Murphy
Bug Dance by Stuart J. Murphy
Behind the Curtain: Hansel and Gretel by Christian Thee
It’s a Baby Zebra! By Kelly Doudna
Zebras by Jill Anderson
Deer at the Brook by Jim Arnosky
Peter and the Secret of Rundoon by Dave Barry.

If you are interested in the challenge, please visit home-grown kids to find out more.


About NaNoWriMo, we hit a roadblock.
I do have to say that I am so impressed and proud with how much my children have written so far. They have never written this much before. From day one, they were focused and wrote every single morning, meeting their daily quotas. Then we took four days off, and ever since we just haven't been able to get back to our routine. The kids have run out of ideas they say, and my stress level is clouding my creativity. They both have asked if they could keep their stories, but not participate in the challenge any more, that they want to finish their books, but when they get more ideas, which might not be right away. We talked about quitting, and really I don't like to quit and they don't either, but at the same time I am just so happy they tried in the first place, that I see "quitting" more as a pause than a stop. There is still two weeks in the challenge, so we might pick it up again, but for now, we are stopping.
Adrienne wrote 1714 words, Andre 1581, and I had 11,132 at last count. One benefit from this challenge that I already noticed was with Andre. We have done written narration with history and I normally get one sentence out of him for a chapter read, but this week, he wrote an entire page after reading his chapter! It seems like writing is not a scary thing for him anymore!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The Fox and The Child on YouTube

Thank you Michelle for letting me know that you can watch the whole movie on YouTube. You can see the first part below, or click on the title of the movie on the tv screen to take you to YouTube and look on the right side for the nine following parts.


Wordless Wednesday ~ Remember


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The Fox and The Child ~ A beautiful movie



My children and I watched The Fox and the Child tonight. We had found it at our local library, and not knowing anything about it, gave it a try. This movie is beautiful. It almost felt like a documentary, with little dialogue and breath-taking nature photography. It is the story of a young girl that befriends a fox. From french director Luc Jacquet (March of the Penguins), it is narrated in english by Kate Winslet.

I would like to warn you that there is a sad part towards the end of the movie, where the fox gets hurt, but it all ends well in the end.

Celeste's Animal Study ~ Beavers and Deer


Celeste and I have been studying animals. I had decided a few weeks back to create a science unit study on animals just for her. She is only five years old, and everything that I was looking at online, curriculum wise, seemed a bit too much. She is concentrating on learning how to read for now, so this science unit study is just for fun.

I thought I would share with you what we are doing, and in particular the links that I have found useful, and of course the books we have enjoyed. A note about the books, you might not be able to find the exact same books at your library, but I am sure other titles on the same subject would be available.
The overall plan is to cover Animals from October to December. Loosely based on the Well Trained Mind grade 1 science schedule, we will continue on with the human body from January to March, then do plants from April to June.


I divided the animals into five sections: mammals, birds, reptiles, bugs, and water life. I then picked about four animals per category to study. I tried to choose Canadian animals whenever I could, but will include some of Celeste's favourite animals along.


The first animal we studied was the beaver. We enjoyed a few picture story books:
Get Busy, Beaver by C. Crimi, Old Beaver by Udo Weigelt, and Beaver by Glen Rounds. I also had borrowed a couple of non-fiction books from the library:
Beaver by Jolyon Goddard and The Life Cycle of a Beaver by Bobbie Kalman. These last two books we mostly skimmed over the text and enjoyed the photographs.

Celeste enjoyed playing the Benjamin Beaver game from the YTV web site, and we watched the "Beaver Family" video on the National Geographic site.

I had printed a Spot the Beaver activity page and a beaver colouring page with handwriting practice too.


Our next animal was the deer.
The two picture books we read were perfect. "Two Days in May" by Harriet Peck Taylor is based on a true story, where people helped protect a small herd of deer that found themselves lost in a city. Our second picture book was Bambi, adapted by Janet Schulman from the original story by Felix Salten. "Deer at the Brook" by Jim Arnosky was another favourite.
We used another book for looking at photos of deer (Deer by Wil Mara) and learning a little bit about them.
We also watched Disney's Bambi.
I printed a deer colouring page (with printing practice) and a Bambi colouring page.

We are collecting all the activity and colouring pages into a small notebook, where I am also writing a couple of sentences for Celeste on each animal studied.

If you enjoy reading about Celeste's Animal Study, and find it useful in any way, please let me know by leaving a comment to this post, and I will continue posting about our study.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Book Sharing Monday






This book is so inviting! "Behind the Curtain: Hansel and Gretel" by Christian Thee is great for children to learn more about how the theatre works. There is so much to look at in this book, little books to open to read about the selected performance Hansel and Gretel, texts at the bottom of each page that explains what is happening, and parts of pages that you can pull up (the curtain on the stage) to reveal more! After the third act, the book shows you behind the curtain, and explains what goes on there, costumes, props, backdrops, make up, etc...


"The overture will begin in a minute. People have settled into their seats, and many in the audience are reading the program. The usher is ready to draw the curtain at the rear of the house (the seating part of the theatre) so the light from the lobby will be shut out. The houselights are about to dim."

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

a new reading challenge, an award, and the 500th post!

First: the challenge!



I love challenges. My 2 oldest children and I are participating this month in NaNoWriMo which is a writing challenge and I also have an Art Every Day challenge going on at my create corner. When I read about the 100 books a month challenge at home-grown kids, I knew we had to participate. The challenge is to read 100 books every month. Leslie is commiting to this until the end of May 2010. I think that's a great idea and we will try to continue until the end of our school year. I will post a monthly list with our 100 books. It will be a mixture of picture books, novels, non-fiction books and probably a few graphic novels too, most from the local library.


Second: the award!



Leslie at home-grown kids has given me an award! WOW! Thank you so much Leslie. I am very honoured. It is such a nice award too...the Kreativ Blogger Award. I am very much like Leslie, in that I enjoy being able to share my homeschooling experiences with others, and I hope to be helpful as well when I am sharing ideas or projects on my blog. I am so happy that Book Sharing Monday has grown the way it has!



Leslie posted a few rules that came with accepting this award. It isn't mean to be held on to--it's to be passed along. They are as follows:


1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.

2. Copy and paste the award on your own blog (if I nominated you, you shoud be receiving the award in an e-mail as I have disabled the copy and paste function on my blog).

3. Link the person who nominated you.

4. Name seven things about yourself that folks may not know.

5. Nominate seven Kreativ bloggers

6. Post links to the seven bloggers you nominate

7. Leave comments on each of the blogs letting them know that you have nominated them


Here are seven things about myself that you might not know...


  1. my oldest daughter (12) is almost as tall as me, I am pretty short (about 5ft3)

  2. my kids and I love to dance around the house with the music blaring (I like pretty much any kind of music as long as it is not screaming-hard-rock-type)

  3. one of my favourite desserts is one my mother used to make: bananas cooked in butter with brown and white sugar, slowly in a non-stick pan...yummy

  4. I fall asleep with a book almost every night, right now it's the Artemis Fowl series (5th one)

  5. I start my day very early (about 5 am, not necessarily my choice, but my dog's)
  6. I have an addiction: it's called the internet, blogs, and facebook ;)
  7. I like making lists.


Now on to the 7 nominations ~ and these are in no particular order:



  1. For being a huge inspiration and giving us guidance in our nature study, Barb at Handbook of Nature Study/Harmony Art Mom . Barb hosts the Outdoor Nature Challenges that we have been taking part of for the last few weeks, using the Handbook of Nature Study as the main textbook. Each of her posts is full of information and activities to do with our children, and she also explains what to do to prepare ourselves as parents so that we can introduce nature in a fun and gentle way, that never feels like a science lesson to me. I also like to leave her blog up on my computer and put the volume up to listen to the beautiful nature sounds playing. Barb's other blog Harmony Art Mom hosts the Sketch Tuesday (another great activity).


  2. Lapaz Home Learning is another homeschooling blog that I have been reading for a while now. She has moved from Alaska to Florida not long ago, and I have enjoyed looking at her photographs from both places. Theresa has had so many great ideas on her blog, many Montessori inspired. Learning always looks fun with her!


  3. Carol at You're Not Lost, You're Here is one of my "real-life" friends (hi Carol!). She has introduced me to many wonderful free activities (especially the Journey North Mystery Class) and many many great books. She has inspired me over the years to trust my instintcs and do what I think is best for my children when it comes to home schooling. Thank you Carol :)


  4. Lisa at Living Life Without Limits is another "real-life" friend. Her family decided last year to leave it all behind and start their life on the road. They are truly living without limits! Her blog is full of gorgeous photos from the places they visited and stories from the road and their new life.


  5. Handmade Homeschool is another one of my favourites. Her regular feature "A Quote and a Question" gives me a chance to pause and think for a few minutes. She always has beautiful photographs to accompany those quotes too. I am a visual person and her sketches are absolutely gorgeous. I am planning on re-visiting her great list of handmade gift ideas very soon to get started on my Christmas gifts list.


  6. Connie at Dirty Footprints Studio is not a home schooler, but an art teacher. Her blog is one of my personal favourite as it always inspires me to include art in my day, and I also appreciate how genuine she is. I discovered her blog while I was participating in the online book club the Next Chapter and we were wrecking our journals at the same time! Her blog description is perfect : "Dirty Footprints Studio provides an inspiring, fun environment where creative expression and self discovery are cultivated and nurtured through art education that focuses on celebrating individuality, supporting community, and enhancing lifelong learning."

  7. The Well-Read-Child is a wonderful blog for reading children books reviews. I have received great suggestions from this site. Her mission is simple: getting kids to read.

I could have picked so many blogs! Most of my favourite ones are listed on the left side of my blog, listed by categories: a children books blog list, homeschooling families, nature and science blogs, an art ideas and interesting activities to do with kids.

And lastly...this is my 500th post!!!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Book Sharing Monday







"What's a curse when it's a curse in reverse?

If it's curse in reverse, and it's given by a witch, then it's a blessing of course!"

This book was picked by Andre. The librarian read it to the group participating in a Halloween program last week, and Andre wanted to share it with me, so he brought it home. I thought it was a fun fairy tale like story with a subtle message.
The witch Agnezza is perceived as a dirty, nasty person and no one wants to open their homes for her to give her shelter or food for one night, besides one poor couple. The villagers that closed the door on her end up cursed, but the poor couple is cursed in reverse.



"Agnezza grew very angry. "I curse you!" she screeched. "I give you the Curse of the Silent Night!" And she spit on Mrs. Ragg's door.
If you are interested in participating in Book Sharing Monday, please click on the button at the top of this post. You can also visit the other wonderful families participating in this weekly event, look for the list on the left side of this blog.
Thanks everyone for sharing all your favourite books! My children and I enjoy seeing everyone's suggestions and adding the titles to our library list.

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