The other morning when I was doing my daily information gathering–scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed–Lily spied an article about the new Harry Potter stamps from the USPS. We clicked over and she read it. Until the last few months getting her to read has been like pulling teeth.

For reading we had been working through Progressive Phonics. At the end of last year she had not completed her phonics program so I was under the impression she would be behind; I planned to review the intermediate level before moving into the advanced level of Progressive Phonics. She seemed completely bored with the program though, and I noticed that she really already knew the material. We are reading through the Harry Potter series as our read aloud. One day she asked to read it and curious to see how she would do, I let her. She only missed one or two words in two pages, and she read those pages aloud fluently.

We have stopped doing Progressive Phonics. For now, she reads independently for at least 20 minutes a day. I have gently pushed her to read outside of her comfort zone, which is still with beginning readers. We have some picture books and chapter books in our collections that I think are more her level so she is working on those. I generally have her do an oral narration of what she reads so that I can check her comprehension.

After reading the article about the stamps, she said she would be interested in more of the like, which would work well to supplement what we have at home since we have primarily fiction books. I pinned a few articles and blogs on a Pinterest board for her so that she can choose as she likes. Here are some of my favorites:

When she gets to reading them I will post what she likes.

Reading

mossy by jan brett

December 31, 2012

Joining up with the Virtual Book Club for Kids. This month’s author is Jan Brett. We read the book Mossy.

Mossy by Jan Brett

Mossy is about an eastern box turtle. She spends her days in her favorite spot, by a little pond, so much so that she begins to grow moss (hence the name Mossy) on her shell and eventually a beautiful garden. Mossy catches the eye of not only a male box turtle but also a museum director who puts her on exhibit. Mossy is a favorite in the museum but she misses her pond and her fella. The story ends well for Mossy and the museum but I won’t spoil it–read the book!

In typical Jan Brett style, Mossy is filled with intricate detail that enriches the story, notably frames around each page that hint at what’s next in the story.

This book was perfect for us, the budding naturalist and museologist-in-training. Plus we are quite fond of the box turtle friends we have met.

eastern box turtle found in our backyard Lily and Jack (turtle ambassador from our fav nature center)

After our reading of the story, we headed over to Brett’s website to see what else we could find. We enjoyed the video of how to draw an eastern box turtle that includes the back story to Mossy.  There are printables, including a color-in of Lilypad Pond–Mossy’s home. There is also a contest that starts January 7th to win a library visit from Jan Brett, which we will try for.

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We have an abundance of moss

detail of moss                  moss wall

so for the activity to accompany the book we made a terrarium. Here’s how we did it–

Materials used:

  • glass container
  • marbles for drainage
  • crushed charcoal
  • sand
  • soil
  • moss

Instructions:

  1. We cleaned the container to prevent bacteria from growing later down the road.
  2. Then we placed the marbles at the bottom of the container.
  3. We added a thin layer of the crushed charcoal and then layered it with the sand.
  4. Next we added the soil.
  5. We added the moss.
  6. Lastly Lily decorated the terrarium with little bits of stones and shells she has collected over the years (those she was willing to part with, that is).

our little terrarium

This is a blog hop but I can’t post the linky (no javascript allowed on free WordPress blogs). Here is a list of the other bloggers that are participating in the Virtual Book Club:

Toddler ApprovedRainy Day MumAdventures in Reading with Kids3 DinosaursRoyal BalooThe Educators’ Spin On ItInspiration LaboratoriesPleasantest Thing Edventures with Kids Two Big Two Little Playing With Words 365Kitchen Counter ChroniclesOutlaw MomMommy and Me Book ClubCrafty Moms ShareNo Twiddle TwaddleThe Good Long Road Ready. Set. Read 2 MeReading Confetti Mama SmilesJuggling with KidsMom to 2 Posh Lil DivasCreekside LearningCreative Family FunThe Usual MayhemTeach PreschoolPlayDrMomCraftoArtHere Come the GirlsBeing a Conscious ParentSmiling like SunshineCrayon FrecklesTrain Up a ChildSmile Play Learn

Joining up with the Virtual Book Club for Kids. This month’s author is Tomie dePaola. We read the book The Song of Francis.

The Song of Francis, book cover

The Song of Francis is a story of Saint Francis of Assisi; it beautifully captures his character through simple text and vibrant illustrations.

Lily found a kindred spirit in Saint Francis; she loved that he loved the birds and nature.

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I was interested to learn that dePaolo considered being a Benedictine Monk for a time.  After living in a monastery for a few months he rejoined secular life but he continues to draw on religious inspiration.[1] He has created murals, such as that in the Dominican Retreat Chapel in Niskayuna, NY.

Religious influence can also be seen in his artistic work as an author and illustrator; dePaola has written many stories based on religious stories and characters besides The Song of Francis, including The Miracles of Jesus, The Parables of Jesus, Mary: The Mother of Jesus, Francis: The Poor Man of Assisi, Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland, and The Holy Twins: Benedict and Scholastica.

We explored the life of Saint Francis by looking at his song, the Canticle of the Sun (here is a modern interpretation that we listened to performed by Jacob JohnsSon) and images of him in manuscripts, icons, and folk art (favorite works of Saint Francis include those by Sadao Watanabe, Jose Fransico Borges, Elayne LaPorta, M.C. Escher, and Gertrud Mueller Nelson). I also read to Lily excerpts from, The Little Flowers of Saint Francis of Assisi and  God’s Troubadour, The Story of St. Francis Assisi by Sophie Jewett, a children’s story about the life of Saint Francis.

Because she is fascinated with The Secret of Kells, I decided to expand our reading by having Lily make a manuscript-style artwork of Saint Francis. Lily made her artwork by first drawing out the images and text in pencil. She then went over the lines with permanent marker and filled in the color with watercolor paints. She drew a picture of Saint Francis with a bird and her text (she had me spell everything out for her) reads, “Saint Francis preached to the birds. He loved nature.” 

 

Lily's manuscript-style drawing of Saint Francis

 
 
 

This is a blog hop but I can’t post the linky (no javascript allowed on free WordPress blogs). Here is a list of the other bloggers that are participating in the Virtual Book Club:

Toddler ApprovedRainy Day MumAdventures in Reading with Kids3 DinosaursRoyal BalooThe Educators’ Spin On ItInspiration LaboratoriesPleasantest Thing Edventures with Kids Two Big Two Little Playing With Words 365Kitchen Counter ChroniclesOutlaw MomMommy and Me Book ClubCrafty Moms ShareNo Twiddle TwaddleThe Good Long Road Ready. Set. Read 2 MeReading Confetti Mama SmilesJuggling with KidsMom to 2 Posh Lil DivasCreekside LearningCreative Family FunThe Usual MayhemTeach PreschoolPlayDrMomCraftoArtHere Come the GirlsBeing a Conscious ParentSmiling like SunshineCrayon FrecklesTrain Up a ChildSmile Play Learn

 

 


[1]“Tomie dePaola.” Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2012. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 23 Nov. 2012. 

 

 

winter nature study

February 9, 2012

No Toy Cure post because we’ve had a busy school day. I’ll catch up with that tomorrow while she’s with her dad. I do want to post about what we’ve been up to with our nature study, though.

She hasn’t journaled in a while because I almost always manage to forget to bring her book and pencils along and by the time we are back at the house she’s moved on to other things. Mostly we just go on walks at home and at the park.

winter nature study

If she sees something that interests her we stop to enjoy it and if she has questions we try to remember to look it up at home (I suppose the journal would be helpful here).

Recently we’ve picked back up our study of birds. I found a coloring book from Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology, and every day I have her fill out one sheet using our field guide.

I try to stick to birds she’s recognized on our walks or that I know live in our area. I hope it will help for when we participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, our first Citizen Scientist project. The GBBC takes place nation-wide, February 17-20–next weekend! We are also going to start going to a local bird club (which just so happens to be meeting next week during the GBBC, fancy that).

For fun, yesterday we made little bird feeders that she put out on our walk today. The birds not only have a tasty treat but also some green yarn to add to their pretty little nests : )

seed flower

hanging her seed flowers

Planet Explorers New York City is full of fun facts about famous landmarks and the history of NYC. While it is written for tween tourists of the Big Apple, it can also be enjoyed by an armchair traveler to learn trivia about the city. I used it as part her geography lesson of NYC.

When asked what she thought of the book she said it was “older-ish,” which makes sense considering its intended audience—it is makes reference to popular culture and historical background that she did not get but a 10-year old probably would—and she still prefers picture books.

Still, I think the book is helpful in providing kid-friendly information, and I especially appreciated the links within the text of the guide and the list of NYC-related websites that help to explore the city further. As far as evaluating the writing style, you can get a good feel for by viewing the sample provided on Smashwords (the link above); I don’t feel that I can fairly judge this because I am not familiar with this genre of books—this is the first travel guide that I have read. I think that more pictures/images especially of maps would be helpful to get a proper view of the city—we used it along with interactive maps—but otherwise Planet Explorers New York City provides a fun look at NYC.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free to review. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

united states geography

December 7, 2011

After her introduction to geography, she studied the geography of the United States.

To bring everything together before we set sail further out into the world we did a me-on-the-map activity by making nesting paper boxes (there are instructions on how to make the boxes from Family Fun) with satellite images of the boundaries we live within (starting with Earth down to our town) on each. She wrote the labels on each box. And we pasted a little picture of her in the smallest box.

Bug-on-the-map

geography introduction

December 7, 2011

For L’s lessons of geography I decided we are going to focus more on getting a taste of the world outside our neck of the woods and not a comprehensive study.  I don’t think it is necessarily helpful for her at this age to memorize rote facts, but she should be aware that there is diversity and common themes across the globe.

But before we stepped foot out of our own door, I wanted to make sure she had a foundation that would help her take the most out of our lessons. The first thing we did was the map study awhile back. Then she made a poster of the differences between wants and needs (and I am going to make a point during our study to compare how these are met throughout the world). We also went into focus on how we meet our needs. Some examples of what we did– she made a paper model of our house after we had a discussion on what makes a house and she helped me plan meals for a week. I also introduced physical geography beyond what we discussed in her map study by reading The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth and by making a play dough model of the earth (idea from Meet the Dubiens).