Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Treasures of Weatherby

Books...Ever since I was a young girl, I have loved a good book. My girls have always loved being read to. I have several photos of Sissy as a toddler with PILES of books around her sitting on the floor leafing through the pages. As Sissy has gotten older she has not been really good about reading books to herself that are her age level. She consistently chooses books that are below her grade level and I think a lot of that is her reading confidence. This year for school I have been requiring her to read books that I leaf through and determine if they are at her level. One book she read was "The Great Escape" by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. She really enjoyed it, so she asked me to get her another by the same author. That is when I found "The Treasures of Weatherby".
When Sissy sat down to read it she said it was "too hard" (which I will admit FOR HER, there were some words that she would not be able to read on her own, but this does not mean that would be so for all 5th graders, she seems to be a bit behind in reading). I thought it sounded like a good book so I decided to do it as a read aloud with all the girls. We are just about done (just 2 chapters left) and the girls LOVE it! It is really a great book.
I have found that many newer authors are writing books about topics that I do not would think are appropriate for my kids to read. I really want to stay away from topics dealing with witchcraft, ghosts, occults, bad language, etc. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find a book review site that is similar to the great movie review site, So, I thought I'd start by reviewing some of the books we read together. Sadly, I am not really great at finishing read alouds. We get distracted and the book sits for so long we end up giving up (like The Cricket in Times Square that we started this summer).
It is my goal to be better about read alouds. Especially since my girls have been captivated by the last two that I have finished. BUT, here is the catch. If you have any great book titles to suggest for me, please leave a comment so as to help me find some appropriate books to read to my 5th, 2nd and kindergartners. I'll review them if we finish them and hopefully together we can help other parents find some GREAT, age appropriate books for their children to read to themselves or to read aloud together.
The Treasures of Weatherby follows a home schooled 12 year old (Harleigh the Fourth) through an adventure to prevent a thief from stealing the family treasure. The family treasure is hidden somewhere in the HUGE family home that was built generations ago. Harleigh is wandering the grounds outside the mansion when he meets a friend, Allegra, who proves to bring adventure to Harleigh's otherwise boring life.
This book had my children captivated. I would read a couple chapters and say, "Ok, time to stop" and it was almost always met with, "NO! One more please?" Even by the kindergartners! The author uses great descriptions and my 2nd grader frequently said, "I can see it happening in my head". Great use of vocabulary was used as well. At one point a character does say, "Oh my G*d".
On my quest to find another book by the author I noticed quite a list! While reading through many of the titles and descriptions the books are fantasy books dealing with ghosts, the occult, magic so I'm passing on many of them but there were a couple that did not seem to follow that route. I'm sure virtually any child would enjoy The Treasures of Weatherby.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

More Reading Fun

I continue to be amazed at Sweet Baby's progress with reading. I LOVE taking photos of her reading. I suppose I should get the video camera out as well, but for now, I love the pictures. Our curriculum this year has us spending the entire year reading the book of Matthew. Today we discussed Jesus walking on water and how even at this point, after all they had seen, Jesus' disciples still seemed covered in disbelief. After I had finished reading and finished our discussion, Sweet Baby ran out of the room and hollered, "I'll be right back. I'm getting my Bible." She came out with her Toddler Bible that has easy sentences to read and proceeded to look through her Bible for the story. She did not find the correct story, but she did find a story about water! She started reading it to us. Of course she stumbled over many words, but was able to figure most of them out - even the word "people". What a joy it is to watch her accomplish so much!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Girl Scout Cookie...Bar Graph??

Sissy has been in Girl Scouts since 1st grade and she really seems to enjoy it. She especially likes seeing her friends from her elementary school a couple times a month. Every year she sells cookies like crazy. As we began bringing the cookies in, I started stacking the cases with likes cases and when I stood back, I thought... bar graph! (It is amazing how as a homeschool parent you begin looking at EVERYTHING and thinking "school"!) Of course when I pointed the "bar graph" out to Sissy, she said, "Oh geesh mom!" As much as she enjoys selling cookies, this will be her last year. I (and several other moms in the community) am currently in the beginning stages of starting an American Heritage Girls troop at our church. American Heritage Girls is a Christ centered scouting group that has many similarities to Girl Scouts except that this program actually holds Christ up as the center of the group and holds the girls and volunteers up to christian standards. This is a group that I have LONG wished we had in our community. The nearest troop is more than an hour away - just not practical - so...I guess we'll be starting one for our family and many girls in our area.

The younger girls have asked to be in Girl Scouts many times over the last couple years but we were just really uncomfortable with not knowing the leaders personally and several of the national beliefs of Girl Scouts have my husband and I concerned. Due to our concerns the younger girls have missed out on the scouting experience up until now. We'll have our first American Heritage Girls meetings this fall and all of my girls are looking forward to a christian scouting experience!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Finished France With Madeline

Well, we have finished our tour through Europe. We spent a few weeks in Norway, a few in France and then a couple in Germany. While in France I read Madeline to the girls several times, and to conclude the study the younger girls did a Madeline lapbook that we purchased from Hands of a Child. I love lapbooks, and the girls do too. Last year we did several lapbooks for history but this year our curriculum has kept us so busy that we have not been able to fit any in.

Lapbooks are WONDERFUL if you want your children to have hands on craft type fun (cutting, gluing, coloring) without having to drag out a ton of supplies. In addition, instead of having another "craft" laying around that doesn't get any use, your child has a sweet example of all they have learned that they can (and sometimes do) look back on and refresh their memory.

This particular lapbook was geared for grades K-2. It was perfect for the younger two but much to young for Sissy. She didn't seem to mind not working on one when I told her that she will be doing a Zebra lapbook during our study of Africa. When Sweet Baby finished her lapbook, she ran right over to Sissy and said, "Look what I did! Can I show you?"

Here is Peanut proudly showing off her cover....

And here is a peak inside. The girls learned about the appendix (Madeline has hers taken out in the story), the Eiffel Tower, there is a story sequencing activity, rhyming page, a map of France and more. They really had fun completing these.

Now...onto Africa!