Curricula and Books

Magic Tree House Series For History And Making Connections

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Pea is obsessed with Mary Pope Osbourne’s Magic Tree House series right now. If you aren’t familiar with this series, the stories revolve around Jack and Annie, two young siblings who travel through history (and sometimes space) to help an enchantress collect stories and lift spells. I won’t give away more plot than that. Each book is 10 chapters long, and the “missions” they go on are in groups of four books. It’s the perfect bedtime reading for Pea. She can’t read them on her own yet, but they help stretch her vocabulary and are a great way to introduce some history. Plus, by reading a few chapters at a time we can spread the reading of stories over days instead of minutes and go through the exercise of recalling what we’ve already read before starting each night.

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And she gets completely lost in the stories. We read three or four chapters each night, and she loves to look ahead at the pictures and try to predict what’s going to happen next. At the end of each book, she loves to go get the next book in the series and see where Jack and Annie will go next.

Keep in mind, she’s five years old. Bug is three and doesn’t quite appreciate the depth of the stories yet. I think her exact words were, “Jack and Annie aw bawing!” And of course, New Baby isn’t a huge fan either since these books aren’t very chewy and don’t have large colored photos.

Last night, something really cool happened while we were reading Magic Tree House #22: Revolutionary War on Wednesday. Pea was looking at the front cover photo of Jack and Annie crossing the Delaware with George Washington, and I was reminded of this post I wrote a while back. I was telling her how I used to lie on her bottom bunk and read a big-grown-up story about the same thing we were reading in the Magic Tree House adventures.

Just like Bug doesn’t quite get the stories on the level Pea does, Pea doesn’t understand how cool it is that she and I sat in the exact same spot and enjoyed the exact same story. Isn’t it cool that she will very likely read this story at least three or four times? I have no doubt she’ll go back and read the Magic Tree House series on her own when she’s able. She’ll also learn about the Revolutionary War and the Christmas night crossing of the Delaware when studying history (non-fiction). And if I am able to influence her, she’ll also catch it again in the historical fiction version I read last year.

We’re already on the hunt for the next series of books we think she may like. Anyone have ideas for kids who love Magic Treehouse?

Curricula and Books

New Maurice Sendak Book This Fall!

Good news from the WSJ! The author of “Where the Wild Things Are” is publishing a new book, “Bumble-Ardy“, soon!

This sounds like a pretty funny book, all about about a kid (pig) who celebrates his birthday for the first time when he turns 9.  Admittedly, there are some pretty high expectations already set, but it sounds like “Bumble-Ardy” won’t disappoint! Amazon is already taking (discounted) pre-orders, and the September release date means it will be a perfect Christmas gift for 2011. We’re getting some shopping done early for A Book On Every Bed 2011!




Bright Ideas Just For Fun Lesson Ideas

How And Why We Find Books At The Library

The last few  times I’ve taken the girls to the library, I’ve noticed that Chick Pea tends to gravitate towards books she’s somewhat familiar with. She has several books at home that are parts of a series (Dora, Mrs. Wishy Washy, Curious George, etc.) and if she sees a book she doesn’t own at the library that’s also part of that series, there’s a good chance she’ll want to check it out.

I really like to watch her semi-serendipitous process of selecting books, but in the last couple of weeks her eyes have been opened to a different way of looking for library books. One of her favorites at bed time right now is Curious George Visits the Library. In the book, George explores the shelves at the library and finds books on all sorts subjects he’s interested in–dinosaurs, trains, trucks, cranes, etc. Of course, he ends up with more books than he can handle, and pre-k hilarity ensues.

A couple of nights ago, Pea asked why George picked so many books instead of the two books she usually gets. We talked about how curious George is, and that he’s interested in many different things. I told her that when we go to the library, we can choose different books about the different things we want to learn more about and gave her an example of all the different things I like. Then I asked her what she likes to learn about. With a little guidance, she realized that animals and flowers are things she’s curious about, and we decided we’d look for books about animals and flowers the next time we’re at the library.

We definitely don’t want to squash the idea of browsing for books just to see what catches her eye, but this is also a great opportunity for her to realize that we can look with a purpose for particular books as well–books that will help us learn about things we like.

Curricula and Books

A Thanksgiving Book We’re Enjoying – Review

We tried to check “Thanks for Thanksgiving” out at our local libraries last week, but it was already checked out at every branch. But at $6.99, that’s not a bad price on Amazon. Plus, if you weren’t aware, parents get a free membership to Amazon Prime called Amazon Mom (dads and caregivers are eligible too).

“Thanks for Thanksgiving” is a really well illustrated book for smaller kids–lots going on in the pictures and filled with images of fall. The book doesn’t deal with the history or Thanksgiving or anything like that, but instead focuses on all the things to be thankful for–friends, family, school, slides, leaves, etc.

We really wish we’d bought it earlier since it references lots of aspects of Fall, making it a great book to supplement the Autumn theme our homeschool co-op has been doing for the past few weeks.

Just For Fun

A Throwback To Reading In The Car

I saw something today while driving that I haven’t seen in a while…kids reading books in the backseat of a car. I know that sounds strange, but it’s true. So many cars have dvd players in the backseat now that it’s become the normal activity for road trips.

Our little ones are in the early stages of learning to read, but we’ve adopted this in our car as well, even for short trips. We’ve been checking out read-along books from the library, and the girls really seem to enjoy them. Our oldest understands the concept of turning the pages of the book when prompted by the CD and following along looking at the pictures, while the little one just enjoys listening to the stories.

If your kids are fans of the Disney movies, they will especially enjoy the Disney read-along books because they include audio clips of the memorable voices of the characters from the movies.

Curricula and Books

The Mine-o-saur!

The Mine-o-saur

It’s a good thing we love The Mine-o-saur so much, because Chick Pea absolutely adores it! For the last couple of weeks this has been a nightly read for her. We’ve been reading it to her once or twice ourselves, then she gives it a shot. Sure, she’s only reciting what she can remember of the words, but it’s so fun to see her slide her finger across the page as we’ve modeled for her. She’s definitely aware that the words on the page are what we are speaking, and she turns the pages at the appropriate times. She also enjoys naming all the letters in the words and reciting their sounds. We’re one step away from putting the sounds together!

The story may be a little advanced for some toddlers, and we’re not sure that she’s picked up on the small nuances of the story, but we go a little further than the text of the book to explain to her that the other dinosaurs are sad when the Mine-o-saur screams “MINE MINE MINE” and they don’t want to play with him. “Que feo, Mami!”

We’ve been applying the book to daily life when her selfish side comes out–“Do you want to be a Mine-o-saur, or a Share-o-saur?” So what if the book never mentions a “Share-o-saur”? 🙂

Some other fun things we do with this book is practice counting objects–cars, balls, green creatures, purple creatures, etc. The last page of the book shows 11 or 12 dinosaurs huddled together. We make it a point to let her count all the eyeballs with each reading, and since she’s still having trouble with the numbers past 14, it gives us a chance to model that as well.

Overall, one of the favorite books in our family library!

Articles In The News

Celebrate The Freedom To Read What We Want

It’s that time of year again…the time to celebrate Banned Book Week. Held every year on the last week of September, BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or to create books that may sometimes be viewed unorthodox or controversial by some. Their goal is to promote intellectual freedom.

I remember one year in Florida there was a lot of buzz about a certain book that was being banned in all schools county by county. Guess what happened? EVERYONE wanted to read it…and just about everyone did. It’s still one of my favorites! It’s funny how banning books has that effect, no?

So go check out what it’s all about and also to see what titles are creating buzz this year. Enjoy your freedom!

Curricula and Books What Others Are Doing

The Latin Baby Book Club Is Here!

Thanks to The Hen over at Bilingual in the Boonies for the heads up on the launching of the new site Latin Baby Book Club.

I’m really excited about this new resource because it allows parents to find new books and music in Spanish for their kids. This site will serve as a great place to learn about latin children’s literature and culture for anyone interested in sharing a new language with their kids. As a bilingual homeschooling mom that’s trying to raise a bilingual family, I can’t begin tell you how helpful this will be! Okay, maybe I’ll try.

I’m always looking for new Spanish books and songs to read and sing with Chick Pea, but I’m so limited on local selection that I have to focus most of my efforts online. Then there’s the problem of time…I just don’t have enough of it to sift through countless sites to find quality bilingual literature and information to use at home. Enter The Latin Baby Book Club!

These wonderful ladies do all of the work for me! They feature great book reviews, author interviews, songs, tips for early readers, bilingual mom tales, and more. Be sure to check them out!

Curricula and Books

Book Review — Make Van Gogh’s Bed

Touch Classic Art

Touch Classic Art

Chick Pea and I took a trip to our local art museum yesterday (we love free admission on Tuesdays) and I found this great touch book of Impressionist art by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo. It features classic paintings with textures for kids to touch and feel as they explore the pages. What a wonderful way to expose your child to art and reading at the same time! Of course, with paintings by Van Gogh, Renoit, Monet, and others, this book is visually stimulating for children and adults alike. But it goes further by including the touch sensory as well, allowing your child to actually “feel” a part of each of the paintings.

The featured paintings also tell the story of a day at the beach, starting with Van Gogh’s Bedroom at Arles and ending with his Starry Night. Each painting is accompanied by a short poem that describes the painting and tells a part of the story. The ArtiFacts section (clever) at the end of the book also features more information on each painting featured in the book for parents. If Impressionism isn’t your thing, there are also three other books in the Touch the Art series–Brush Mona Lisa’s Hair, Feed Matisse’s Fish, and Pop Warhol’s Top.

We are lucky to have an excellent used book store in our town, so we seldom buy new books or pay full price, but these will be hard to find used, and they were so nice I could not pass them up.