Archive for the ‘reading’ Category

Every Monday, kidlit bloggers celebrate the fantastic non-fiction available for kids and teens.  I’m excited to be today’s Non-Fiction Monday Round Up!  Leave a link to your post about a non-fiction title in the comments, and I’ll update throughout the day.

My contribution for today is Serengeti Journey: On Safari in Africa, a National Geographic Science Chapters book. The book includes an introduction, chapters on elephants, giraffes, and cheetahs, a short summary chapter, and information on writing a report.

We’re using it as part of a unit study on African animals. My 7-year-old devoured each chapter this week and then told me fact after fact that she had learned. I loved seeing her so excited about reading non-fiction. Next week, we’ll do a writing project based on what she learned.

There are lots of titles in the National Geographic Science Chapters series, including Amazon Journey, Mysteries of the Sea, and All About Ants. We’ll definitely be using more of them in the future.

Post from around the kidlitosphere:

Read about an amaizng graphic novel about violence among children, Fist Stick Knife Gun at Pink Me.

Jeff at NC Teacher Stuff has a review of Get to Know Wedges.

Hop over to Charlotte’s Library to read about DK’s Ask Me Everything.

Abby the Librarian tells us about The Buzz on Bees.

Learn about Creative Kitchen Crafts at A Patchwork of Books

Read a review and enter a giveaway for The Barefoot Book of Dance Stories, a mix of non-fiction and folktales.

Learn about Survival at 40 Below at Wild About Nature.

Wendie Old has a review of The Little Kids First Big Book of Animals.

Get Face to Face with Wolves at Book Dads.

Learn more about Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie at Rasco from RIF.

Jupiter joins Non-Fiction Monday for the first time with Recycle This Book.

Read about Time is When at The Cat in the Hat blog.

Roberta from Wrapped in Foil shares Beautiful Oops.

Shirley Duke at Simply Science shares her own Infections, Infestations, and Diseases.

Rock out with  Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow at Bookends.

Anastasia Suen shares The Shocking Truth About Energy.

Read about Benno and the Night of Broken Glass at Maclibrary.

Michelle Markel at The Cat and the Fiddle shares a post on story arcs in picture book biographies.

Check out a few National Geographic Easy Readers (Ants and Great Migrations: Elephants) at The Reading Tub.

Another book blending folklore and non-fiction, How the Moon Regained Her Shape is the subject of today’s post at A Wrunge Sponge.

Learn about What Rot! Nature’s Mighty Recycler at Apples With Many Seeds.

Head over to Chicken Spaghetti to read about Liberty or Death, Candy Bomber, and The World Famous Miles City Bucking Horse Sale.

Janet Squires joins us with a review of Math Appeal: Mind-Stretching Math Riddles.


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Both my girls enjoyed reading The Rabbit by Sally Tagholm (part of her Animal Lives series). We’re going to do a re-read when we study rabbits for nature study next week. The book follows a litter of rabbits from birth until maturity. Readers learn about rabbit family structure, challenges the young rabbits face, how they stay safe and what they eat. Since my girls are such animal lovers, I’m excited about having found another good series. I’ve got The Frog on request at the library.

This week’s Non-Fiction Monday Round-up is hosted by The Miss Rhumphis Effect.

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Over the course of last school year, M gained the confidence to read short chapter books on her own and by early summer was devouring them at a rapid rate.  I knew about easy readers – we’d explored Elephant and Piggie, classics by Dr. Seuss, Mr. Putter and Tabby, Amanda Pig and many others as Meg began to read. When she was ready for something longer, she started with the Magic Tree House series and moved on to Cam Jansen, Rainbow Fairies, Keeker and the Sneaky Pony, Secrets of Droon, and other short chapter series.

But when those became easy reads, I wasn’t sure what was next.  She started several significantly longer books that we’d read aloud – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and The Lightning Thief for example. She could read them but her slow progress, the length of the books and the small print discouraged her so she only read a chapter or two. I wanted to encourage her to keep reading whatever she chose no matter the level, but I also wanted to present her with some choices that would challenge her but not be discouraging. I questioned a few teacher friends and learned more about different systems of leveling books, particularly Lexile and Fountas and Pinnell.

Based on what I’d learned I began to assemble a list of books that were at her current ability level or just above it. So if you are looking for some reading suggestions for a reader who is gaining confidence with chapter books, here are some options. Most of these are O, P, Q on the Fountas and Pinnell scale or 500-750 on the Lexile scale. They are more or less listed from easiest to hardest but all scales don’t agree and interest or familiarity with the story makes a big different in how difficult it seems to a reader at this stage.

Ivy and Bean series by Annie Barrows

Encyclopedia Brown series by Donald Sobol

Dragon Slayer’s Academy series by Kate McMullan

Time Warp Trio series by Jon Scieszka

The Boxcar Children (and sequels) by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Socks by Beverly Cleary

Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary

Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary

Betsy, Tacy and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace

Animal Ark series by Ben Baglio

Dolphin Diaries series by Ben Baglio

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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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When C spotted this interactive Discoverlogy title on the library shelf, she said we must get it. And she was right, both girls have been fascinated by Creatures of the Deep by John Woodward.  Each page spread covers a different topic on deep ocean science from early diving equipment to modern research to bioluminescence. The pages are filled with flaps, pull tabs, pop-ups, and wheels that bring the reader into a journey to the deep ocean and accentuate the fascinating photos and illustrations of animals that live in the ocean’s deepest waters.

This week’s Non-Fiction Monday is hosted by Apples With Many Seeds.

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Wow! I’ve certainly neglected this blog over the summer. We’ve continued to enjoy a whirlwind of summer fun – swimming, hiking, nature study, laying around in the a/c and watching movies, all punctuated by camps for M and trips for all of us. This week I am enjoying some restful time to reconnect with my husband while the girls are with my parents.

Our official kick off date for the school year is August 23 so I’m also taking some time to reorder bookshelves, refresh our homeschooling spaces, and rethink what this school year will look like. I’ve been having a blast over the last few weeks ordering books and buying school supplies. Oh how I love school supplies! Each girl will receive a basket filled with fresh supplies for the year as part of our first day tradition. We will also decorate notebooks and look through lots of new books. I’m excited but also nervous about the year. I’ve rethought our curriculum and plans many times, and I know that the way we structure our days and the curriculum we use will be a work-in-progress but I so want to make a good start.

Last spring, I shared plans for second grade and most of those have remained the same with the exception of Language Arts. I’ve always found Language Arts to be the hardest to plan because there are so many parts to pull together – spelling, writing, grammar, phonics, reading, handwriting, research skills, etc. I decided not to use the next level of All About Spelling and bought only the Flash Kids’ Complete Curriculum workbook planning to use it as our base and find other activities as we need them, but once I started making concrete plans for the first few weeks, I found the organization of it frustrating. I toyed with buying Sonlight’s LA for Level 2 Advanced but I knew we would only use a fraction of the work in it. I kept looking for other options and then I stumbled upon the Charlotte Mason Language Arts series at Wildflowers and Marbles.

I’ve been reading more about Charlotte Mason’s educational theories over the summer and after reading this set of posts, I decided to revamp our LA plans to include dictation once/week, copywork once/week, several narrations weekly, one grammar lesson/week possibly using the Flash Kids book and one writing assignment per week based on a chapter or section of a living book. This might be handwritten by M or dictated to me.

M is now comfortable reading short chapter books on her own and can read longer, more complex books but is often discouraged by small type or a book that seems dauntingly long.  I intend to encourage her to continue picking out books on her own and reading as voraciously as she has been at any level she chooses. I also plan to assign a few books that are at a slightly higher level than she has been commonly reading.  I will read those with her and we will discuss each chapter.  To compile my list, I used Sonlight’s Readers 2 Advanced and Reader 3 lists as well as this list of books with Fountas and Pinnell levels given.  All books I’ve chosen are level O-Q.  Here’s the list so far: Beezus and Ramona, Encyclopedia Brown, Socks, Meet Josephina (American Girls), Into the Deep (Dolphin Diaries), Betsy, Tacy, and Tib, and The Boxcar Children. Some of these are familiar stories and some are new.

For read-alouds, I will continue to let M’s interests lead her plus we will read several books off the Sonlight Core 1 list (several of which are re-reads we’ll talk about in more detail) and a few more we’ve been planning for awhile.  Here’s what I’ve got listed so far: A Bear Called Paddington, Charlotte’s Web, Henry Huggins, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, The Railway Children, Wheel on the School, Homer Price, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and Understood Betsy.

I’m trying to get the concept of less is more to actually sink into my brain particularly in light of how much M’s writing and spelling skills have improved over the summer as she’s made books and typed up lists and created other projects completely on her own initiative.

Other areas I’ve altered/tweaked since my original plan include art and history.  For art we will still be using Artistic Pursuits Book 1 but we will use it with our art group every other week. I’m sure we will also do projects from the book on off weeks some of the time but I’m also interested in following the picture study and composer studies at Ambleside so depending on how much time we’ll have, we may or may not do Artistic Pursuits projects on our own.  M is also signed up for a weekly art class with the same wonderful teacher she had for summer camp last year.

I’ll explain the books and resources I’ve pulled together for our first weeks of history, the booklist I’ve made so far for our chemistry course, and the basic schedule of our days in additional posts.

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