Sunday, 31 January 2010

February is a Fun Month!!

So much fun stuff is happening in February.

My son would tell you that first on the list is his birthday! He is turning 11 this year.

Valentine's Day  We have many crafts planned and will read themed books as well. We are even planning  a little family party. Lots of love! 

February is Black History Month. Last year, we learned a lot about the Underground Railroad. We read many books about the subject (see book sharing monday: black history month posts). Carol at You're Not Lost, You're Here! blog has put together a great list of links for learning more about Black History Month.

The 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver are starting on February 12! We will be incorporating some learning fun while watching sport events online.

Journey North Mystery Class starts February 1. We are looking forward to this very much! Please let us know by leaving a comment if you will be participating too.

The Great Backyard Bird Count takes place February 12 to 15. More information can be found here.

As we get closer to some of these events, I will share some links and activities that we are stay tuned and have a wonderful month!

100 books-a-month challenge ~ january

Last day of January and another month of the 100 Books-A-Month Challenge completed!


Polly and the Pirates by Ted Naifeh - Graphic Novel
Macbeth by William Shakespeare - retold by S. Haynes - Graphic Novel
Swords: An Artist’s Devotion by Ben Boos
Alice Becomes A Queen from Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll (aloud to me)
The Wise Jackal: A Tale from India (aloud to me)
The Foolish Jackal: A Tale from India (aloud to me)
Agreed to Disagree by Sydney Dayre (aloud to me)
The Wharf by Benjamin Franklin
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes Book Two by Bill Watterson
Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke - first 6 chapters

The Princess and the Painter by Jane Johnson - Picture Book
Charlotte in New York by Joan MacPhail Knight
Charlotte in Giverny by Joan MacPhail Knight
Queen Clarion’s Secret by Kimberly Morris
Into the Volcano by Don Wood - Graphic Novel
Vampire Island by Adele Griffin
The Knaveheart’s Curse by Adele Griffin
Creature Carnival by Marilyn Singer
Charlotte in Paris by Joan MacPhail Knight
The Birds and I by Liberty H. Bailey (aloud to me)
The Brown Thrush by Lucy Larcom (aloud to me)
Sing On, Blithe Bird (aloud to me)
Baby Penguins: At Home On The Ice by Jennifer Boudart
Penguins by Daniel Gilpin (sections)
The Dark Hills Divide (The Land of Elyon Book I) by P. Carman - first 125 pages

Read Aloud Picture Books
Happy Birthday, Moon by Frank Asch
Moondance by Frank Asch
My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss
Quiet in the Garden by Aliki
An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Aston
To The Beach! By Linda Ashman
The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter
Roar of a Snore by Marsha Diane Arnold
The Serpent Came to Gloucester by M.T. Anderson
Me, All Alone, at the End of the World by M.T. Anderson
The Tale of the Turnip by Brian Alderson
The Tale of the Tricky Fox retold by Jim Aylesworth
Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda by Margaret Atwood
Five Ugly Monsters by Tedd Arnold
Mr. Maxwell’s Mouse by Frank Asch
Mrs. Marlowe’s Mice by Frank Asch
The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle by Beatrix Potter
The Tale of Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix Potter
Babies in the Bayou by Jim Arnosky
Armadillo’s Orange by Jim Arnosky
Beachcombing by Jim Arnosky
The Snail House by Allan Ahlberg
Grandfather Buffalo by Jim Arnosky
Dolphins on the Sand by Jim Arnosky
Rattlesnake Dance by Jim Arnosky
Nothing by Jon Agee
Persephone by Sally Pomme Clayton
Creature Carnival by Marilyn Singer
A Midsummer Night’s Dream retold by Bruce Coville
Monsieur Saguette and his Baguette by Frank Asch
Hercules by Robert Burleigh
The Hero and the Minotaur by Robert Byrd
Little Bear’s Valentine by Else Holmelund Minarik
The Best Valentine in the World by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen
I Know the Moon by Stephen Axel Anderson
Unwitting Wisdom - An Anthology of Aesop’s Fables retold by H. Ward
Knock on Wood: Poems about Superstitions by J. Paschkis
Valentine’s Day by Gail Gibbons
When They Are Up…by M. Spicer
Groundhog Gets a Say by Pamela Curtis Swallow
The Lion’s Share: A Tale of Halving Cake and Eating it, Too by M. McElligot
Franklin and the Tooth Fairy by Paulette Bourgeois
The Peanut-Free Café by Gloria Koster
The Reluctant Flower Girl by Lynne Barasch
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
For Sure! For Sure! By Hans Christian Andersen
The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland
Martha Doesn’t Say Sorry! By Samantha Berger
The Tortoise and the Hare Race Again by Dan Bernstein
The Umbrella by Jan Brett
The Mitten by Jan Brett
Arthur’s Birthday by Marc Brown
Arthur’s Family Vacation by Marc Brown
Arthur’s Baby by Marc Brown
The Princess and the Pizza by Mary Jane & Herm Auch
Too Many Monsters by Eve Bunting
One Rainy Day by M. Christina Butler
Tumble Bumble by Felicia Bond
Mythology: Greek Gods, Heroes, & Monsters by Lady Hestia Evans
Franklin’s Bad Day by Paulette Bourgeois
Bradley McGogg: The Very Fine Frog by Tim Beiser
Red Sings From Treetops: A Year in Colour by Joyce Sidman

Read Aloud Non-Fiction Books
Crystals (p20-21) and Metal Marvels (p28-29) in Mysteries and Marvels of Science (for our science studies)
Metals (p30-31) in Usborne Science Encyclopedia (for our science)
Groups of Metals (p32-33) in Usborne Science Encyclopedia (for our science)
Prince Edward Island - Canada’s Land & People (for Canadian Geography)
Fizz, Bubble & Flash: Element Explorations & Atom Adventures (pages 4-20) (for Science)
Sea Clocks: The Story of Longitude by Louise Borden (in preparation for Journey North)
Northwest Territories - Spectacular - (for Canadian Geography)
The Man Who Made Time Travel by Kathryn Lasky (in preparation for Journey North)

Read Aloud Novels (Chapter Books)

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson & The Olympians series-Book 1)
The Trumpeter of Krakow (for Adrienne’s history)

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
Ecoholic by Adria Vasil
The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise (relevant parts)
The Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer (not complete)

You can join this reading challenge by visiting home-grown love. This challenge has been great in our family so far. We love reading together!

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Planning For Next School Year :: History and Science

I like to plan ahead and I also enjoy some time off during the summer instead of pouring over homeschooling manuals, books or catalogues! So, even though it's only the end of January, I am planning a little bit already for next school year.

Over the past four years, our approach to homeschooling has become eclectic.  I take a little bit from classical education, some from Charlotte Mason, and even some from unschooling! Mostly, I follow our interests while making sure we cover the main subjects. Math and Language Arts. My children could probably tell you that I am not flexible when it comes to these. They need to be done at least four days per week. I make sure that whatever curriculum we choose for math and LA is working for each child, but those subjects are mandatory.

Celeste will be starting grade 1 this coming September, she is fortunate to have a more relaxed and "experienced" homeschool mom than Andre had when he started his grade 1 four years ago!

Even though I know that my approach is more relaxed now, the fact that she is turning 6 does make me want to plan a little more for her, to be ready and organized. This year, she has been learning how to read, how to write, and a bit of early math with games and picture books, and she is also taking part in our Canadian Geography study. She joins us sometimes for art or science experiments. Mostly I follow her interests and her readiness. This year has been a very gentle approach to school for her, and so far it has worked, she has consistently been enthousiastic about learning. Most days she is the one asking to do her "school"! I have rarely had to ask her.

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up the third edition of the Well Trained Mind at our library, and have been writing a few notes to help me plan for next school year.

I have always found the Well Trained Mind to be a valuable reference. I started our homeschool adventure using the WTM almost to the letter...and burned out shortly after!

I have heard this comment before in homeschooling circles and also have learned over the years to take what I like from it and adapt it to our family.

One part that I appreciate is the approach to history, teaching it an a chronological manner has always made a lot of sense to me. I also like that science follows a 4 year rotation, just like history.
I have been making charts to try to figure out the progression for history and how to teach all 3 children at the same time. Adrienne and Andre are both working on medieval times this year, and for science we are doing chemistry.
I found this article to be very helpful: "Multiple Children" from the Well Trained Mind site. A shorter article about the same topic can be found here: Classical Pattern. It explains how to go about teaching all of them, and even gives examples.
For our family, next year we will cover Late Renaissance and Early Modern times. They will both be using the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia as a spine.  Celeste will start learning about history as well, with the Usborne History Encyclopedia. I will be reading to her at first, and then to all 3 a mixture of picture books and novels.  For suggestions, I can use the book lists sections of the Well Trained Mind book, and also online here and here. The links take you to living books lists. Living books are recommended by Charlotte Mason, they are insteresting books, books that engage you and make you want to read more. They are the opposite of "twaddle" books or "dumbed down" books. In our house we call twaddle books "junk books", just like we try to limit junk food and instead feed our bodies healthy, nutritious, and delicious foods; we also try to read books that are exciting, interesting, and engaging.

For science, next year we will be studying Physics. I will write another post about the resources I found shortly..This post is already long enough!

UPDATED : I will be adding a new section to my left sidebar for usefull links concerning teaching late renaissance/early modern history.
Here is one I found this morning that would be quite helpful:
weekly planning pages: sorted by historical time periods.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Simple Canadian Geography

We have been studying Canadian Geography this year, going through each province and learning more about each one, a bit of history, a bit of cultural information, and main facts.

We use the province worksheet found on the Crayola website: Canadian Provinces. Each child has been creating a double page in a scrapbook (the plain dollar-store kind) per province, adding the colouring sheet and some pictures cut out of the travel brochures I sent for last summer from each province.

Once I am finished reading aloud about the province,  we take out the map (received from the tourist office too) and play a fun game. I tell them the name of a city, national park, or other landmark and they race to find the location on the map. They are getting quicker and quicker at finding these, using the index. Sometimes there is a prize like a chocolate chip per correct find, sometimes there isn't. They just love this game.

For my resources, as I mentioned already, I contacted each tourist board from each province, and asked to be sent maps and tourist brochures. All have websites, so it was fast and simple to order these free resources.

I also have a copy of the "Symbols of Canada" book published by the Department of Canadian Heritage, another free resource that can be requested here: The Symbols of Canada. The library has some great books, at different reading levels, on each provinces as well.

I am planning to try some authentic recipes from a few provinces, and have a celebration dinner when we have finished doing our Canadian tour of all the provinces.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Mythical Creatures Lapbook

It's complete! Adrienne did all the work for this lapbook and I think it turned out wonderful! Mythical creatures are a favourite subject in our house, and her brother has enjoyed reading the mini-books of this lapbook. We have started working on a Greek Gods and Monsters Lapbook a few days ago. A nice project just for him and myself...I will post about this soon.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Book Sharing Monday :: embroidery for little miss crafty

This time I would like to share a book picked up for my older daughter and myself from the library. She has just started learning embroidery this past Christmas and seems to enjoy it.  I also saw a couple of cute little projects.
"Embroidery for Little Miss Crafty" is written by Helen Dardik (from Ottawa!).
You can visit her website at: One Lucky Helen.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

home made dog treats by Adrienne

Orion is so happy...and so spoiled! Adrienne baked him a batch of dog treats yesterday...these have fresh mint and parsley in them. He loves them!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

More Outdoor Fun!

We had another afternoon of fun playing outside yesterday. This week, we have been able to take our puppy Orion out for walks again. He had a limp a couple of weeks ago, but now after a good rest and some medication, he is back to himself. Snow and ice make my children happy. A lot has melted, but there is still enough of it for them!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Outdoor Hour Challenge ~ Winter Series ~ Cattails

We are finally getting back to our Nature Study! Barbara at The Handbook of Nature Study blog is helping us discover nature in winter. Following what we did in the fall, we will take a closer look at nature close to us in the winter, looking at cattails, our tree, the weather, and more.

We started today by checking out the cattails near the farmer's field. We were surprised to find that the cattails were still there. I thought maybe they wouldn't be, or at least not the top part of the plant.
Some plants were still dark, others very light. Most were intact, but some like the one below, were breaking apart.

We had walking along the edge of the farmer field and testing the snow..some parts were very strong and hard, other parts we could feel our feet sinking down.
The kids had a lot of fun cracking the ice that was in the vacant lot!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Book Sharing Monday :: Creature Carnival

We read this book aloud and it was perfect timing since we are working on a mythical creatures lapbook. Creature Carnival is written by Marilyn Singer. Adrienne and I love the illustrations in this book, done by Gris Grimly. I will be looking for more picture books with his art. There is a website with a list of his books, you can see it here: Mad Creator Productions (click on Books at the top).
The book is a collection of fun rhyming poems about the attractions at the creature carnival. Some of the creatures are the mermaid, the sphinx, tricksters, the kraken, satyrs..and many more. We loved it!

Here is a little taste for you from the Pegasus page:

Has hooves, has mane.
Has tail, can neigh.
Has wings, can fly,
Might nest in hay.
Not a horse, not a bird,
Wouldn't drop an egg on us.
Very sleek, very Greek,
In a word:
It's Pegasus. "

For another poem, you can visit the author's website and read the Nessie one:

If you would like to participate in Book Sharing Monday, please visit this post: participating in book sharing monday

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Canadian Olympic Torch at Our House!!

WOW!! We were so lucky to have the Olympic Torch used for the Canada-wide relay stop at our house for a visit last week... A homeschool friend's husband participated in the relay and she was visiting in the area. She brought it over along with the outfit that he wore and told us the whole event. This was so exciting!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

homemade lime sorbet

We had extra limes to use up in our fridge and so we decided to make some lime sorbet. When I was searching for a recipe, I had a hard time at first finding one that didn't have any dairy products or a ton of sugar. But, finally I found one!
The recipe I used can be found here.
It uses only sugar, water, lime juice and lime zest.
It is a very simple recipe, you mix the sugar and water, with a pinch of zest in a pot, bring it to boil and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Set that aside and squeeze the limes to get the juice. Then, you mix the juice with the sugar mixture and let it cool. Once it is cooled enough, place in the fridge to cool more.
We don't have an ice-cream maker, so we put the mixture into the freezer and scraped the ice and mixed every 40 minutes or so. We did this most of the afternoon, by dinner time it was almost completely frozen.
Very simple to make, and so refreshing.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Reading My Library ~ "A" Authors

We have been reading through the "A" section of the picture books at our local library.

I talked about Frank Asch on Book Sharing Monday here. After going back a couple of days ago for a fresh batch of "A" books, I noticed more Frank Asch titles, especially the Mrs. Marlowe's Mice and Mr. Maxwell's Mouse. Both are illustrated by Devin Asch, who is Frank's son.  Both books are about cats and mice.

Mrs Marlowe is a librarian that keeps mice in her appartment, but not for eating, she shares her home with them. The Catland Security Police is investigating her, because one of her neighbours believes that she is harboring mice (which is against the law!). We all enjoyed this tale, for its suspense and for its detailed illustrations.

We liked Mr. Maxwell's Mouse story just as much. The story of an important cat, going to his regular restaurant, but deciding on a change of routine in his choice of food, to celebrate his promotion at work. He orders a live mouse for his lunch. The mouse comes on a slice of rye toast, and the story becomes quite interesting at that point. The mouse is  smart...but that is all I can say, wouldn't want to give the story away!

The other author that we really enjoy reading aloud is Jim Arnosky. We used to take part in Author Fiesta, which was a monthly discovery of authors. Unfortunately, the blog hasn't been updated since December 2008, but while it was active, Jim Arnosky was one of the authors we discovered (see my short post about it).  We loved all the stories we read, the mix of nature and short stories was a perfect combination for us.

I was able to find some of our favourites of the library shelf, and a few new ones too.

Our 3 favourites from this group are:

:: Beachcombing: Exploring the Seashore, which we used as a seashell guide a while ago

:: Dolphins on the Sand, the story of a dolphin rescue. Dolphins are one of my favourite animals, and this story touched my heart. It isn't known why dolphins and whales become stranded on sandy beaches, but I can only imagine how sad a site it would be to see a group of dolphins stuck that way, and how I would do anything to help them. The people in the story tried to comfort the dolphins and keep them safe from the sharks until they could swim safely out to the ocean. Jim Arnosky's note at the back of the book reveals that he had witnessed a similar event.

:: Adrienne's favourite story this time, was Grandfather Buffalo. It is the story of an old buffalo, the oldest in its herd. He is slower than he used to be, and can't always keep up with the rest of the herd. A new calf is born and a new relationship develops with the old buffalo and the young one. It is a beautiful story of the bond between generations.

The "A" section isn't very big at our local branch, so we will be moving on the "B" now. I wonder what new authors we will discover or which beloved ones we will reunite with?!

If you would like to find out more about this challenge, just click on the Reading My Library button below:

Reading My Library

Monday, 11 January 2010

Book Sharing Monday :: The Tailor of Gloucester

Celeste and I have been enjoying the wonderful little stories by Beatrix Potter early in the morning this past week, while everyone else is still sleeping. "The Tailor of Gloucester" is her favourite so far. It is so nice to see her enjoying these stories and asking for more. I have tried a few times to share these with her, but she never showed too much interest, but now, she is asking for them!
Andre discovered Beatrix Potter and her stories a couple of years ago. We had a couple of them, and we started collecting, picking up titles whenever we saw them at thrift stores. He even completed a lapbook about Beatrix Potter.

"The tailor worked and worked, and he talked to himself. He measured the silk, and turned it round and round, and trimmed it into shape with his shears; the table was all littered with cherry-coloured snippets.
"No breadth at all, and cut on the cross; it is no breadth at all; tippets for mice and ribbons for mobs! for mice!" said the Tailor of Gloucester."

To find out more about Book Sharing Monday please click here!

Friday, 8 January 2010

100 books-a-month challenge ~ a start on january

I have made some changes on how I record the books we read. I sort them by the reader, and you can see the headers for each below. I also added the reading that we do for our regular homeschool lessons, something I wasn't logging before, along with the chapters/pages read so far in the current novel that I read aloud to the kids.
We are continuing with our chart on our fridge to keep track of our progress visually. We also started reading a few picture books by "A" authors, following the Reading My Library challenge, but I will talk about that a bit more in a future post.
Here is our list so far:

100 books a month challenge ~ January 2010

Polly and the Pirates by Ted Naifeh - Graphic Novel
Macbeth by William Shakespeare - retold by S. Haynes - Graphic Novel

The Princess and the Painter by Jane Johnson - Picture Book
Charlotte in New York by Joan MacPhail Knight
Charlotte in Giverny by Joan MacPhail Knight

Read Aloud Picture Books:
Happy Birthday, Moon by Frank Asch
Moondance by Frank Asch
My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss
Quiet in the Garden by Aliki
An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Aston
To The Beach! By Linda Ashman
The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter
Roar of a Snore by Marsha Diane Arnold
The Serpent Came to Gloucester by M.T. Anderson
Me, All Alone, at the End of the World by M.T. Anderson

Read Aloud Non-Fiction Books:
Read Crystals (p20-21) and Metal Marvels (p28-29) in Mysteries and Marvels of Science (for our science studies)

Read Aloud Novels (Chapter Books):

First 10 chapters of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson & The Olympians series)
Chapter V to IX of The Trumpeter of Krakow (part of Adrienne’s history)

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

I am not quite sure how I should count now these books...16 actual books read, and then the chapters read in the novels and science books..
You can visit other participants in this fun challenge at home-grown love.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

meet me at the corner ~ virtual field trips for kids

I  have just started to explore this website, but it looks like a great resource. I think virtual field trips are an excellent idea, since we just can't visit all the places that we would want to ourselves! Meet me at the corner has many episodes. You can select a topic such as New York City, language arts (book reviews), pets, and much more.
What I have noticed is below the videos there are extended learning activities (questions, vocabulary, activities..), then I found links with websites to visit, and also a list of recommended books to read.
This could be a wonderful resource for homeschoolers and for families.

Coming up on February 1, "Interview with Thomas Edison", a virtual trip to the Thomas Edison Museum in New Jersey. On March 1, The History of Pizza with a visit to the oldest pizza restaurant in New York City!

You can visit meet me at the corner by clicking here.

Here is the description from their website:

"MEET ME AT THE CORNER, Virtual Field Trips for Kids, is a dynamic, interactive site, which encourages individual expression and participation through video submissions from children worldwide. Through these video pod casts we hope to create a community of children, who learn the art of self-expression and storytelling through video.

In the beginning, the video pod casts highlighted the people, events and history of New York City. As this site grows through children’s submissions, we hope to highlight the people and events of other towns, cities and nations. "

Monday, 4 January 2010

Book Sharing Monday ~ "A" authors

I picked up a few books in the "A" section of the children picture books at our local library. When I saw this title on the shelf it put a smile on my face, and  I had to bring it home. This used to be one of Adrienne's favourite books at bedtime when she was a toddler. "Moondance" by Frank Asch is the story of a bear that wants to dance with the moon. Maybe that is why Adrienne likes anything to do with the weather, this book has a lot to do with weather, rain, fog, clouds...

"For a long time Bear gazed at the moon.
"She's so special and I'm just an ordinary bear." he thought."

You can watch and listen to this book on youtube, read by the author.


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