Saturday, May 31, 2008

Summer Reading for the Kids

While we are on the topic of reading, let me share with you several thoughts on selecting books for kids. I really love what Andrew Campbell has to say in LCC:

"When selecting books, look for three things: literary language; worthy stories and characters; and quality illustrations. Ask yourself, "Does this story ennoble the child's mind? Does it speak to her heart? What aesthetic, intellectual, and moral models does it place before her? Will she be a better person for having read it?" (p.75)

Quality illustrations factor in pretty heavily when it comes to my purchases, and some of my favorite illustrators for young children's tales include K.Y. Craft (breathtaking fairy tales), Paul O. Zelinsky (beautifully illustrated Grimm's tales), A.A. Milne and Beatrix Potter (my three year old is totally infatuated with Peter Rabbit right now, nap time cannot begin without a short story about Peter, Jemima Puddle Duck or Jeremy Fisher). Milo Winter's version of Aesop's fables is simple and beautiful. I also love Arthur Rackham, but some might consider Rackham a bit dark for the youngest.

Many people struggle with making decisions about literature, especially when it comes to fairy tales, mythology and fantasy literature. A Landscape with Dragons is a wonderful resource if you are unsure about how to approach these genre, and how to determine whether a book puts forth moral models (not every "good v. evil" story is a positive moral model!). It is written from a Christian perspective, and discusses the usefulness of appropriate fairy tales, while comparing older stories with some of the currently popular myth adventures, pointing out that many can appear "Christian" or moral, while in reality they are often subtly undermining true Christian values. While I don't agree with everything the author writes, it gave me some insight into many of these issues. That said, here is a list of what the kids will be reading this summer:

"the crocodile hunter" - age 9
Wonderbook for Boys and Girls (he needs to finish the last 2 stories from school year)
Black Ships Before Troy - Sutcliff
Wanderings of Odysseus - Sutcliff
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - Lewis

"the little princess" - age 7
Reading-Literature: First Reader - Yesterday's Classics

Read Alouds:
Swiss Family Robinson (I have been reading this to them for over a year, they love it, but we just have not been able to finish it, so this summer we will finish the last few chapters)
The Secret Garden (I am planning to plant a "secret" garden space for the kids in addition to our vegetable garden, so I thought this would be a fun read)
The Jungle Book
Among the Pond People - I cannot say enough about how much fun this series is! - great living books science!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Summer Reading List

I love to read. I mean, I really, really love to read. And I am one of those people who will pick up a book and not put it down until it is finished. Prime example: this past Christmas my mother loaned me her copy of Atlas Shrugged . I had just had a baby in October, and much of my time was spent sitting and nursing (and very little leaving the house), so I decided I would read the book over our Christmas break. I read it in 4 days. The book has 1200 pages. For four days I sat in my kitchen and read. I read while I nursed, I read while the kids fixed their own lunches, I read all day. I could not put it down. Thankfully, there are not many 1200 page books out there that I care to read, or my poor family would be in trouble. That book reminded me though of just how little I get to read these days. And what I do read is almost always school related. That is a good thing, but I decided I need to get back to reading a broader range of books. So here is my summer reading list. Many of these I am rereading, because they help me to re-center and begin a new school and church year with a fresh reminder of why I am doing the things I do.

For School:
The Latin Centered Curriculum 2nd edition - Andrew Campbell - finally arrived, and I have already read most of it :)

Laying Down the Rails: A Charlotte Mason Habit Handbook

Keeping a Nature Journal - Leslie & Roth (need to get motivated and inspired!)

Climbing Parnassus - Tracy Lee Simmons (need to reread)

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain - Betty Edwards

For Me:
Seven Habits of Highly Successful People (started this one a while back but I need to go back through it again)

Quotidian Mysteries (I like to reread this 2-3 times a year)

A Mother's Rule of Life - (need to reread this and revamp my "rule")

Letters to a Beginner - Abbess Thaisia

The Mission of Motherhood - Sally Clarkson

Raising Them Right - St. Theophan the Recluse

Making God Real in the Orthodox Christian Home - Anthony Coniaris

Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells - Matthew Gallatin - (love his podcasts on Ancient Faith radio!)

For Fun:
A Tale of Two Cities

Secret Garden (going to read this one aloud to the kids this summer)

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Lesson in Patience?

No, I am not referring to the fact that it has been a little while since I posted! I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of my copy of Latin Centered Curriculum (the revised and updated version). I placed my pre-order back in April, sold my old copy of the original, and patiently waited for the end of May to roll around (all the while trying to NOT buy any new curriculum until I at least saw the new LCC). So, joy of joys, I received an email on Monday saying it had shipped. I check the mail each day with the anticipation of a child waiting for Santa to come. But is hasn't come. I just checked the mail today, thinking, surely it will arrive in time for me to read it over the weekend (I mean, after all, it's not like I live across the country - in fact, if gas didn't cost so much I would be tempted to take a "field trip" to go pick up my book!). It wasn't there. And I don't suppose it will be there before next week now, since I just checked my email notice - which informs me that is was shipped media mail. MEDIA MAIL!!!! And a holiday weekend!!!! So, I will patiently wait until next week, unless some wonderful mailman miracle occurs and it shows up tomorrow. Usually by this time I have most things generally planned out in my mind for the next school year. This year I forced myself to not do that. I did go to our local homeschool fair, and yes, I did buy something :) but I feel that I restrained myself quite well overall. I really am looking forward to spending a few weeks this summer reading a number of books, and preparing for the next school year. I will post my summer reading list the next chance I get.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Scheduling: Part 2: My Teacher's Planner

Someone asked at WTM about teacher's planners, and what people include in them so I thought I would post some information on my planner as a part of my posts on scheduling. Now, first let me say it has taken several years to get my planner to where it is now. Second, not everyone needs or wants a planner. If this includes you, you have my permission to ignore this post :) I say that because I think we as homeschoolers get so caught up in things sometimes, and we start looking at what everyone else is doing, and worrying because we may not be doing it too! So if you homeschool without a planner, you will hear no complaints from me. For me, it is a natural tendency to want to have everything all laid out, and I really like checking off my little boxes! I do NOT like feeling behind! That is why programs that come with a weekly schedule turn me off - I know I will not be able to stick to someone else's schedule, and tend to set myself up for failure if I have that expectation for myself. That is part of why I created this planner; it relieves that feeling, and it gives me something to show if others ask what we are doing. It is my map which guides and gives me a sense of progress through the year. I use a 3 ring binder (I think it is a 2" binder?) with the plastic on the front and back so I can personalize the cover and back. Here is the table of contents in my planner:

Table of Contents
Prayers & Inspiration
Morning & Midday Prayers
Daily Schedule & Calendar
Weekly Lesson Plans
Attendance & Assignments Record
Lesson Plans by Subject
Overview for Year
Christian Studies
Icon Study plan
Grandma’s Stories
Greek Myths
World and Modern Studies
Middle Ages plan
Middle Ages Art plan
Explorers Unit Study
Explorers Readings
Colonization Unit Study
Paddle to the Sea & Seabird
CM Geography plan
English Studies
Fifty Famous Stories
Wonderbook & Tanglewood Tales
Classical Writing: Aesop
Grammar Study
Poet Study
Art Study
Composer Study
Field Trip Information
Homeschool Information
State Laws
Socialization Articles
Recitation/Memory Work
In the next few posts I will explain what each of these sections are, and give more details on how I use my binder.