Monday, October 19, 2020

The Read-at-Home Mom Report for 10/19/20

Finished Books




I flew right through the second Mitford book, A Light in the Window, on audio and I've already borrowed the third one. I love them so much.

I ended up having some issues with Chuck Klosterman's takes on a lot of things in I Wear the Black Hat, and many of his arguments have not aged well since the book was published in 2013. I gave it two stars. 

My husband had me read A Taste of Blackberries by Doris Buchanan Smith. It reminded me of the movie My Girl, and also of the book On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer. It handles the subject of death very honestly but tastefully and the writing is strong. 

I read Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham with two friends on Instagram, and I absolutely loved it. This one I'm hoping to save to review here on the blog. 

I also loved Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women by Cornelia Meigs and plan to do a review. One of my goals this year was to read five books related to Concord, Massachusetts. This was my first one, but now I feel a renewed desire to complete that challenge.


Currently Reading


I'm still reading Pegeen by Hilda van Stockum but hope to finish soon. I'm also nearing the end of Ulysses. I took a bit of a break from Rekindled by Mallory Smyth, but it should be quick to finish once I pick it up again. I also started listening to Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos and I'm reading a digital ARC of The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop by Fannie Flagg.


Up Next


I have to remember to start The Story of the Trapp Family Singers pretty soon because my book club moved up its meeting date from the third Thursday of the month to the second. We're meeting even earlier in December, so I'll also need to leave a good amount of time to get to the December book, The Reed of God Caryll Houselander, even though it's a re-read. I also really wanted to read Murder Makes a Pilgrimage by Sister Carol Anne O'Marie this month because it's set this time of year, but I may not get to it. 

I'm linking up today with The Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Cozy Halloween Picture Books Old and New

In our family, Halloween has always been more of a cozy celebration than a spooky one. We typically make donuts, drink apple cider, have the kids parade around the house in their costumes, and, of course, read festive stories. Today's post lists some of our favorites as well as a few new titles that have been added to our collection for this year.

The Little Kitten is a recently published picture book by Nicola Killen about a little girl named Ollie, who, while out walking with her cat, Pumpkin, meets a lost kitten. Ollie and Pumpkin look after the kitten, feeding her and making friends with her until she can be reunited with her surprisingly magical owner. The illustrations are key to appreciating the true identity of the kitten's owner, and the reveal is subtle. My five-year-old missed it completely and had to be shown exactly what to look for. Still, it's such a sweet and gentle read that it's worth reading twice to get the full effect. 

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything isn't explicitly connected to Halloween, but it's a fun read about not being scared. A little old lady walks home from picking berries, nuts, and twigs. On the dark path, she encounters various articles of clothing, each of which makes a signature motion that repeats throughout the book. When the clothes are finally accompanied by a scary pumpkin head, the little old lady takes measures to ensure that she won't be bothered by this menacing outfit ever again. My kids love to act out this story, as they perform movements to imitate each article of clothing.

In Bears and Boos by Shirley Parenteau and David Walker, the focus is on sharing, as the bears discover a costume trunk and accidentally leave out one of their friends as they all choose costumes. I have to confess that the rhyme scheme and rhythm feel a little bit off in this one, but the illustrations are absolutely adorable. My three-year-old has been the ideal reader for this book, as she is just the right age to be learning to share without hurting other people. She also really loves the end papers in the book which feature a gathering of smiling ghosts.

Ollie's Halloween by Olivier Dunrea is a holiday title in the Gossie and Friends series. Each of the characters from the Gossie series appears here in costume as they celebrate Halloween together, prowling through the chilly autumn evening and sharing treats together. The Gossie books are always a huge favorite with my toddlers, and even my older kids still like to revisit the characters.

Room on the Broom is a rhyming story by English writer Julia Donaldson, with illustrations by Axel Scheffler. In repetitive verse, it tells the story of a witch and her cat. As the wind blows the witch's belongings off of the broomstick one by one, each item is rescued by a different creature who inquires whether there is room for him to fly along on the broom. After the broom is full of animals, the group encounters a dragon whose defeat requires quick-thinking teamwork. My three-year-old loved this book so much last Halloween that she has been reading it weekly ever since. 

In Click, Clack, Boo!: A Tricky Treat by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin, Farmer Brown dislikes Halloween, and is maybe even a bit afraid. His animals, on the other hand, love to celebrate, and they dress in costumes, trick-or-treat, and host a big party. This book is a good one for defusing Halloween fears, as the spooky figure outside of Farmer Brown's house proves to be something far less sinister than he suspects, and he joins the fun in the end. 

Finally, Sheep Trick or Treat by Nancy Shaw is another pleasant rhyming story. The sheep put on costumes to collect treats from their farmyard neighbors. Afterwards, they trick some unsuspecting wolves who would otherwise have had them for dinner. As with other titles in the series, the humor and wordplay are the highlights in this one. My three-year-old is a big fan. 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and Candlewick for the review copies of The Little Kitten and Bears and Boos, respectively.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Homeschool Update: Week of 10/5/20

Morning Time

  • Poems from Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Nosy Crow, 2018): "Conkers" by Clive Samson, "The farmer flings" by Anonymous, "The Scarecrow" by Anonymous, and "Cliche" by Alison Chisholm 
  • Questions from The Big Book of Tell Me Why by Arkady Leokum, illustrated by Howard Bender: "When were rockets first used?", "How was glass discovered?", "Who invented the thermometer?", "Who invented the microscope?", "Who invented the camera?", "Who invented the automobile?", "Who invented the airplane?", "How was the telephone invented?"
  • "All People That on Earth Do Dwell" sung from The Vatican II Hymnal
  • "Arkansas Traveler" sung from Wee Sing Fun 'n' Folk 
  • Painting from Come Look with Me: Enjoying Art with Children by Gladys S. Blizzard (Charlesbridge, 1996): The Old Stagecoach by Jonathan Eastman Johnson
  • Listening to Rodeo: Hoe Down by Aaron Copeland
  • Lesson 5 from The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism 
  • Recording weather, including temperature, sky color, wind strength, and clouds, as well as animal activity and observations about the leaves. 


History

C. did ask Gran her questions about her family history, but after that she was tired of thinking about it, so we shifted gears and jumped right into natural history. I know this is really science, but since we're using it as a prelude to ancient history next year, it feels right to think of it as history for her purposes. We read a couple of pages each day from Life Story by Virginia Lee Burton and First Days of the World by Gerald Ames. She absolutely loves it. We also supplemented with YouTube videos: "Where Did Earth Come From?" from SciShow Kids and Earth & Its History from turtlediary. 

M. read about the Franks and Charlemagne, and she also heard part of The Song of Roland. 


Table Time 

On Monday, we did a craft where the girls glued googly eyes and drew faces on foam acorns. On the other days of the week, I took different combinations of kids for a walk. On Tuesday, M. and baby A. went with me to deposit our ballots in the board of elections drop-box. On Wednesday, C. went on a hunt for acorns with baby R. On Thursday, we went to the dentist and then I tried taking all three big girls for a walk. but M. kept running off, so she was forced to go back home while I took C. and E. On Friday, I took M. for a 3-mile walk on her own. 


Math

C. started the second Life of Fred book, Butterflies, and M. continued in Goldfish. C. started basic multiplication in Singapore while M. finished with pounds and ounces and moved onto review. Both girls also did Khan Academy daily.


Preschool

E. played a few Halloween games on Khan Academy kids, and we read picture books together, including a new review copy, Bears and Boos by Shirley Parenteau. My husband also worked with her on holding up the proper number of fingers for the number three. We (along with C.) discussed fire safety on our walk. 


Science

We had mostly finished our BFSU lesson on energy, but we reviewed everything from last week and then talked about how energy moves. C. is especially attentive to these lessons, which I'm pleased about because I don't always think of her as being very science-minded.  


Reading and Writing

C. finished Happy Birthday from Carolyn Haywood. M. continued reading Mossflower. M. worked on worksheets about proper and common nouns and plurals in Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills: Grade 3. On Saturday night, they listened to the audiobook of Half Magic; during the week we're still reading aloud Magic by the Lake, and my husband is reading Robin Hood after dinner.


Music

Both M. and C. practiced recorder and piano every day. 


Physical Education

In addition to our walks, the girls also did the 10-minute exercise video from the Ten Thousand Method one day.  


Monday, October 12, 2020

The Read-at-Home Mom Report for 10/12/20

Finished Books


I started this week by zipping through Three Stuffed Owls, a vintage teen mystery from the Carson Street Detective Agency series by Keith Robertson. I didn't love it quite as much as The Crow and the Castle, but it was well-written and funny and I thought it would pair well with  Owls in the Family. The dialogue was probably the best part. 

After that, my husband handed me Twenty and Ten by Claire Huchet Bishop insisting that I read it immediately. I previously enjoyed All Alone by this author so I had no objections, and I was definitely not disappointed. This is a great story about a group of French schoolchildren who assist in hiding a group of Jewish children from the Nazis. 

A friend on Instagram was reading The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg and I realized I didn't remember much about it from my previous reading 15 years ago and decided to listen to the audiobook to refresh my memory. I remember loving it a lot more the previous two times I read it (once as a kid and once in library school), but it was still enjoyable. My friend mentioned that she had compared it to Wonder and I see the parallels, but I think The View from Saturday is the superior book by far.


At Home in Mitford
 by Jan Karon was my other audiobook for the week. The audio recording was 20 hours long and yet when I reached the end of the book, I was disappointed and wanted more! Thankfully, this is the first of a long series, and they all seem to be available through the library. 


Currently Reading

I'm still listening to I Wear the Black Hat by Chuck Klosterman, but it's taken a back seat to the Mitford books. I'm almost 15% of the way through the second Mitford book, A Light in the Window.

This week, I also started Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs, which I'm really enjoying and Pegeen by Hilda van Stockum, which I borrowed from a local homeschool mom. 


Up Next

I have a buddy read of Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham planned with the same Instagram friend who read The View from Saturday. For book club in early November, I also need to read The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta von Trapp. And those ARCs continue to linger unread...


I'm linking up today with The Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Homeschool Update: Week of 9/28/20

 Morning Time

  • Poems from Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Nosy Crow, 2018): "Apples" by John Siddique, "New Sights" by Anonymous, "The Leaves Are Green" by Anonymous, and a short excerpt from "As You Like It." 
  • Poem from Exploring Nature with Children by Lynn Seddon: "September" by Helen Hunt Jackson
  • Questions from The Big Book of Tell Me Why by Arkady Leokum, illustrated by Howard Bender: "How did candy originate?", "How was fire discovered?", "Who invented matches?", "Who discovered electricity?"
  • "Now Thank We All Our God" sung from The Vatican II Hymnal
  •  "Cindy" sung from Wee Sing Fun 'n' Folk 
  • Painting from Come Look with Me: Enjoying Art with Children by Gladys S. Blizzard (Charlesbridge, 1996): Interior of a Ropewalk by Charles Bird King
  • Painting from Exploring Nature with Children by Lynn Seddon: Haystacks - End of Summer by Claude Monet 
  • Listening to The Happy Farmer by Robert Schumann
  • Lesson 4 from The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism 
  • Questions from the 500 Questions Game Book (Parragon Books, 2017) for fun on Friday
  • Memory work: C. mastered "The Fairies" by William Allingham and M. mastered "If" by Rose Fyleman. Both girls recorded their recitations on video.
  • Recording weather, including temperature, sky color, wind strength, and clouds, as well as animal activity and observations about the leaves. 


History

C. worked on learning the names for the different relationships on a family tree and began mapping a family tree of her own. We got stumped on my husband's side of the family a little bit and wrote down some questions to ask Gran during our weekly Skype date. 


Table Time 

On Monday, we skipped this time because we met up with our friends in the nature study group. On Wednesday, we skipped it again to celebrate C.'s birthday. The other days of the week we colored Archangels (for Michaelmas on Tuesday) and played with Legos.  


Math

M. and C. both started working on review sections in their respective Singapore workbooks. C. finished Life of Fred: Apples. M. worked independently in Life of Fred: Goldfish. They also both did work on Khan Academy. 


Preschool

E. enjoyed sorting buttons in a muffin and stringing beads on pipe cleaners. She colored one page in her Melissa and Doug alphabet pad. 


Science

The BFSU lesson for the next two weeks is C-1 Concepts of Energy I - Making Things Go. Using Early Elementary Science Education by Shannon Jordan as our guide, we discussed four different types of energy - heat, light, movement, and electricity - and categorized different actions based on the type of energy that causes them to happen.  We also talked about how energy changes from one form to another and emphasized the fact that matter never becomes energy and vice versa. 


Reading and Writing

C. started reading Happy Birthday from Carolyn Haywood. M. finished Redwall and has moved onto Mossflower. She also read Riding the Pony Express by Clyde Robert Bulla.


Music

Both M. and C. practiced recorder and piano every day. 


Physical Education

During our time with the nature group on Monday, all three girls ran around with friends and played some sort of game involving bodyguards. 

Monday, October 5, 2020

The Read-at-Home Mom Report for 10/5/20

Finished Books


In the last two days of September, I read more than half of September by Rosamunde Pilcher in order to finish it before October. It really picked up as it got past the halfway point and I wound up giving it four stars.  


I recommended Feed by M.T. Anderson to a local friend and decided to listen to the audiobook so I could discuss it with her. I think it's actually more disturbing and interesting now, in the age of Tik Tok and Instagram, than it was back in 2002 when we really only had Facebook. 

The Nantucket Inn and Nantucket Neighbors by Pamela Kelley are entertaining women's fiction novels that I listened to on Scribd while I decided what I really want to read this month. I'm not sure these books even had any real conflict or character development but they were easy to breeze through. They were easier for me to read than Elin Hilderbrand, but very similar to her books in terms of content.


Currently Reading 

I Wear the Black Hat by Chuck Klosterman took a backseat to other books this week, but I plan to get back to it and finish it before the audiobook expires on Libby. 

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon is an audiobook I picked up because someone on Instagram recommended the series for having a "fall vibe." I'm totally hooked. The story is gentle and wholesome, but also funny, and I love the writing. (My one qualm: I feel like toilets are mentioned a lot. It feels weird.)


Up Next

I have a stack of books on my desk and I'm still trying to decide where to start. Two options are Three Stuffed Owls by Keith Robertson, a vintage middle grade mystery I've had on my shelves for a couple of years now, and Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs, which my Instagram friends chose over Walden by Henry David Thoreau as my "friend pick" for a bingo challenge.  

I'm linking up today with The Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Homeschool Update: Week of 9/21/20

Morning Time

  • Poems from Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Nosy Crow, 2018): "Windsong" by Judith Nicholls, "Auguries of Innocence (Excerpt)" by William Blake, "Summer Goes" by Russell Hoban, "Noisy Noisy" by Jack Prelutsky, and "The Swallows" by Elizabeth Coatsworth
  • Questions from The Big Book of Tell Me Why by Arkady Leokum, illustrated by Howard Bender: "How did medicine start?"; "When did people start cutting their hair?"; "When was soap first made?"; "Who invented shoes?"; "Who made the first false teeth?"; "How did forks originate?"; "When did man begin to drink milk?"; "Where did ice cream originate?"
  • "Lead Kindly Light" sung from The Vatican II Hymnal
  • "The Wabash Cannonball" sung from Wee Sing Fun 'n' Folk 
  • Painting from Come Look with Me: Enjoying Art with Children by Gladys S. Blizzard (Charlesbridge, 1996): Portrait of Baby with Dog by Joseph Whiting Stock
  • Listening to Hungarian Dance No. 2 by Johannes Brahms
  • Lesson 3 from The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism 
  • Liturgical year: Padre Pio (9/23)
  • Questions from the 500 Questions Game Book (Parragon Books, 2017) for fun on Friday
  • Memory work: M. recited "If" by Rose Fyleman and C. recited "The Fairies" by William Allingham
  • Recording weather, including temperature, sky color, wind strength, and clouds, as well as animal activity and observations about the leaves. 


History

C. spent the week carefully copying all the events we decided to put on her timeline onto a large piece of paper in chronological order. On Friday, she added some illustrations.

M. read about Mohammed and the development of Islam in A Picturesque Tale of Progress. She wrote and illustrated a narration about Mohammed and filled in a chart listing the five pillars of Islam. 


Table Time 

One day, I moved the girls outside to do kinetic sand during this time. The other activities for the week were lacing cards (which only M. wanted to do), the "Doll People Dress Up!" coloring page from this set of printables (which M. and C. both loved), and sticker collages. 


Math

M. and C. did the usual Singapore and Khan Academy math work. M. is still doing weights and measures (mostly kilograms) in Singapore 3B and C. is still working on addition and subtraction in 1B. They also did a chapter each in Life of Fred on Wednesday. M. is in Goldfish and C. is in Apples. 


Preschool

E. is kind of a preschool dropout right now. She likes the idea of school, but would prefer that it consist primarily of snacks and videos. She doesn't like most of the things the older girls did at her age, so I mostly just say yes when she asks me to read aloud and offer activities when she seems receptive.  


Science

In our second week with Building Foundations for Scientific Understanding, we did Lesson B-2: "Distinguishing Living/Natural Nonliving and Human-Made Things." This included organizing this set of items into their proper categories and discussing how we can tell by looking at something whether it is alive or not. 


Reading and Writing

M. continued working her way through the worksheets in Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills: Grade 3, and she also wrote a few more sentences in her story about Mr. Albatross. (See last week.

C. and I finished our shared read-aloud of The Boxcar Children

We also started a new lunchtime read-aloud: Magic by the Lake Edgar Eager. 


Music

M. and C. both practiced piano and recorder for 15 minutes every day this week.


Physical Education

We have been skipping the daily exercise video in favor of running on the deck. I think that is likely to continue until the weather turns uncomfortably cold.