Archive for the ‘picture books’ Category

We’re continuing our study of African animals, and lions are our focus today. Both of my daughters were fascinated by the stunning photos and cool facts in Face to Face with Lions by Beveryly and Dereck Joubert. The authors have spent 25 years studying the lions of Africa and living among them, and their passion for these amazing creatures shines through in their book. Readers learn about the impact of habitat loss and hunting on lion populations and receive information about what we can do to make the world a better place for lions and other top predators. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in big cats, predators, animals conservation, or animal life in Africa.

This week’s Non-Fiction Monday Round-up is at Capstone Connect.


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One of our favorite homeschool activities this year is our nature study time. Either on Friday or over the weekend so Brent can participate, we read about a topic in a book and/or field guides, then we take a walk, usually just around our neighborhood, looking for our subject. When we come home, we draw in our nature journal. We don’t always find what we’re looking for. The week we hoped to find lots of birds to observe, we didn’t see many that weren’t high in the trees, but we saw plenty of birds the next week when we couldn’t find any butterflies. We always see something interesting and our walks have become a favorite part of our week.

A few weeks ago, we discovered a nature park close to M’s art class and while we were exploring, we discovered lots of cool mushrooms. The girls insisted we bring their dad that weekend and have a mushroom nature study session. I searched the library for mushroom books and discovered The Mushroom Hunt by Simon Frazer. We brought it along with us and the girls loved listening to it while nestled in a pile of leaves.

The book begins with a young girl named Ruthie and her family preparing to go on a mushroom hunt in the woods. The story of their explorations is interspersed with facts about mushrooms such as their ability to grow in the dark and how a network of tiny threads spread into the soil underneath them. By following Ruthie on her family outing, the reader learns how mushrooms grow, how they differ from plants and the characteristics of many different species.

Today’s Non-Fiction Monday Round-Up is at Write About Now.

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M and her dad have starting reading The Red Pyramid, the first book in Rick Riordan’s new series focusing on Egyptian mythology. We’ll be studying Egypt in a few weeks so we thought this would be a fun choice. She asked me for yet another re-read of Magic By the Lake which is her favorite of the Edward Eager books. We’re almost done with it and our next read will likely be either Gone-Away Lake or The Penderwicks on Gardam Street.

M’s reading has taken off by leaps and bounds over the summer and she’s now devouring books so fast I’m not sure I catch them all but this week I know she’s read The New Kid at School (Dragon Slayer’s Academy, Book 1), Camp Babymouse, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, and she’s started January Joker (Calendar Mysteries, Book 1).

I finished The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and fell in love with Flavia de Luce, resourceful 11-year-old chemist and aspiring poisoner. Now I’m reading Harriet the Spy and The Red Pyramid (when I can sneak it away from Brent and M).

While staying with my parents this week, C discovered several new favorites from my old books including: The Frisky Kittens by Roberta Miller, The Elephant Who Wanted To Be A Leopard by Eve Witte, and Nobody’s Puppy (a Whitman Tell-a-Tale).  She’s also made many requests for Curious George and the Puppies, Hide and Snake by Keith Baker, and Yummy! Yucky! by Lesli Patricelli which she often reads to herself before falling asleep.

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As I mentioned earlier, we’ll be working through R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey’s Chemistry Level 1 course this year. The course includes suggestions for living books to go along with the curriculum and I’ve been making a list of suggestions from other sources as well.  I’ve planned the first few weeks of experiments and books but so far, we plan to use How to Think Like A Scientist by Stephen P. Kramer, The Periodic Table: Elements With Style by Simon Basher, What’s Smaller Than A Pygmy Shrew? and Can You Could To A Googol? by Robert E. Wells and Magic School Bus Gets Baked in a Cake by Joanna Cole.

In the past we’ve done lots of informal nature study but I’d like to formalize our studies some more this year. I’m going to encourage both girls and myself to keep nature journals.  I’ve ordered The Handbook of Nature Study (the paperback is currently deeply discounted at Amazon) and we may follow along with the Outdoor Hour Challenges. I’ll also read plenty of books on nature topics with the girls. Right now, we’ve got several great titles from the library: Desert Giant: The World of the Saguaro Cactus by Barbara Bash, Houses from the Sea by Alice E. Goudey, Box Turtle at Silver Pond Lane by Susan Korman, A Tree is Growing by Arthur Dorros.

I’ve also been keeping a list of books about famous scientists, inventors, and adventures for M to read or for us to read together.  Here’s what I have so far: The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Kathryn Lasky, Archimedes and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick, A Wizard From the Start: The Incredible Boyhood and Amazing Inventions of Thomas Edison by Don Brown, Now and Ben: The Modern Inventions of Ben Franklin by Gene Barretta, and Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean, a graphic novel by Sarah Stewart Taylor

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We’re going to cover Ancient Civilizations this year using History Odyssey as a guide but also pulling from Sonlight Core 1 and bringing in some of our own resources. We’ll do history twice a week on average (not that we ever really have an average week) and we’ll pick and choose between the activities and book choices given in History Odyssey, probably only doing about 1/4 of the suggested work. We’ll use Story of the World and The Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History as our spines and each week we’ll read a few short books and do a hands on project.

Our Booklist for the first several weeks:

Archaeologists Dig for Clues

The City of Rainbows: A Tale From Ancient Sumer

Pepi and the Secret Names: Help Pepi  Crack the Hieroglyphic Code

Ms Frizzle’s Adventures: Ancient Egypt

Adventures in Ancient Egypt (Good Times Travel Agency)


Pharoah’s Boat

Egypt in Spectacular Cross-Section

We’ll be using Ancient Science and Ancient Egyptians and Their Neighbors: An Activity Guide for science, art and cooking projects.

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We’re in the midst of our tidepool/beach unit study.  We’ve finished up our other work for the year, so we’re focusing on science experiments, reading about creatures who live on the beach, in tidepools or further out in the ocean and watching Blue Planet.

Here’s a list of the books we’ve used so far.  I’ve reviewed several of them for Non-Fiction Monday so I put in links for those.


Awesome Ocean Science

One Small Square: Seashore by Donald Silver

Take A Beach Walk by Jane Kirkland

One Small Place by the Sea by Barbara Brenner

DK Eyewitness: Seashore


What the Sea Saw by Stephanie St. Pierre

The Seaside Switch by Kathleen Kudlinski

How Will We Get to the Beach? by Brigitte Luciani

Wave By Suzy Lee

A House for a Hermit Crab by Eric Carle

Other booklists and information about beach and ocean studies can be found by searching my beach and ocean category.

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I saw this chameleon project at Art Projects for Kids, one of my favorite art blogs, and I knew it would be perfect for our art group.  We checked out the suggested accompanying book, The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle and two other chameleon-themed favorites of M’s, A Color of His Own by Leo Lioni and Leon the Chameleon by Melanie Watt.

We started our morning by reading the stories.  Then each child got a chameleon form to trace in crayon (I traced them for the younger siblings that joined us). I reminded them that the paint would not cover crayon and encouraged them to draw designs and/or features on their chameleons.

Next I brought out trays of water colors and they painted over their chamelons.  I was impressed with the variety of designs they created.

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