Monday, January 25, 2016

What We Read on Snow Days

We got hit with the icy blast this weekend much like the rest of the Eastern part of the United States. Snow days, for us, mean playing outside, coming in to sip warm hot chocolate (or at least eat the partly melted marshmallows), a movie in the afternoon, and, of course, books. Lots of books! Here are some of our favorite to read when winter weather hits.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

This is one of our favorites. It is a classic! If you haven't read it yet, go get it! We love the excitement, w wonder, and magic of snow that is conveyed by the space prose and simple pictures. My favorite part is when he puts the snowball in his pocket, only to find a wet spot in its place later.

The Mitten by Jan Brett

Jan Brett is a favorite around here. Her illustrations add so many layers to a book, with the borders that tell their own story, hidden objects, etc... We love all the different animals and the tickle-bone funny idea of them all cramming into one tiny mitten. 

Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, illustrated by Susan Jeffers

After being introduced to Susan Jeffers' delightful illustrations of this classic poem by Five in a Row, this quickly became a family favorite. Frost's classic poem comes alive with illustrations that tell the story of an old man, bearing a slight resemblance to Santa, stopping to enjoy the winter weather. 

What do you read when snow flakes fly?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

What Mama is Reading - Teaching from Rest

If you are a homeschooling mama, get this book.

Strike that. If you are a mama, get it! It's that good. 

This is my first year homeschooling. I only have a kindergartener in school, and I still get overwhelmed. Seriously overwhelmed. The curriculum choices, philosophies, theories, methods, and tools that are available as soon as I hit "enter" in my Google search bar. Thousands upon thousands of choices. My battleground in homeschooling is my own doubt. Am I doing enough? Is this the right curriculum choice? How is she doing compared to her peers? What is her reading level? Her comprehension level? 

All that worry is exhausting.

What is important in my homeschool is that I am schooling in align with God's will. I am teaching my daughter to love God. When we do math, I am pointing her to the God who ordered the stars and created the amazing mathematical patterns that order our universe. When we read, I am pointing her to the Author of Life. The Creative Master that made each snowflake is unveiled in our study of science. The end result may be the same if we use Saxon Math or if we use Singapore. It may not be. But, what is important is that from day to day, I am not spinning my wheels again and again looking up curriculum, doing a "quick" online search to see how other homeschool families order their days, or wasting my mental energy worrying.

What matters is that we seek to imitate Christ. That we order our loves so that our hearts better reflect His. Many days, checklists will go untouched, books will go unread, and ducks will not line up in a row, no matter how much we strive.
                                Sarah Mackenzie 

But what matters is that I seek to imitate Christ, and as my children's mother and teacher, they find something in what I do or say; something in who I am that is "worthy of imitation."

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

What to read to your little girl who is contemplating her career or your little boy who says, "A girl can't do that..."

After a stray question and observation: "You seem to be really interested in how the body works, maybe you'd like to be a doctor someday," my girl has been contemplating career choices. At five-almost-six, she is already concerned about work-life balance. She has suggested that she become a gymnastics teacher, so she can bring her kids with her to work. Her latest musing was wondering if she would make a good teacher. After all, as she pointed out, she does enjoy teaching Kit and Maryellen (her American Girl dolls). But, if she is going to be a teacher, she only wants to teach on Mondays and Tuesdays when her husband can be home with the children. He can work the rest of the day while she stays home. 

As a lawyer turned stay-at-home mom, I feel some pressure to expose her to the concept that she does not have to be a stay at home mom. She certainly can be. It is a wonderful, life-giving career. But, she can also do other things, including being a stay-at-home mom and... 

When this book popped up on A Mighty Girl's book selections, I added it to our library holds. And, it proved worthy of the hold. 

Jennifer Fosberry's story is charming. In it, Isabella protests at being called "Isabella" and instead pretends to be a variety of women who have achieved remarkable feats. Women such as Marie Curie, Sally Ride, and (the role model that makes this book unique) Mommy. This book validates careers for women in traditionally male-dominated role while recognizing the importance of Mommy. I love that it does not diminish my role as a stay-at-home mom while also opens conversations for our family to talk about other women role models. 

Lest you think this book is only for young girls, let me correct you! My almost-four-year-old boy adores this book. He has picked it up to look at and for us to read to him every day since we brought it home from the library. My son, who has such gems as, "Mom, get in the kitchen and make me some food," (said while watching a football game) written in his baby book. This not only helps my daughter see herself in different roles, it helps my son see my daughter as a scientist, an astronaut, and a sharpshooter. It helps him see me as these things. And, it helps him see other girls and women this way too. 

This is one book that will eventually make its way into our permanent library! 

Friday, January 8, 2016

What We're Reading

At the Same Moment, Around the World by Clotilde Perrin

I love this for reviewing our continents, talking about different cultures, and the beautiful illustrations. The kids love it for the glimpse into other people's lives and the pictures. I also think the fact that it is a different shape than most books (a long, think rectangle) also captures their interest.

Paddle to the Sea by Holling Clancy Holling

This book is nothing short of beautiful. It is on the Ambleside Online Year 1 list, and we love it. It has captured by five-almost-six year old's imagination, drawing on her love of nature and fascination with Native Americans. I also love that it sneaks in some geography while we are reading.

In the New World: A Family in Two Centuries by Christa Holtei

We are learning about immigration to America, and this book does a wonderful job illustrating a family's experience. What makes this book unique is that it fast-forwards to the present day descendants of the immigrant family. When they decide to investigate their family history and reverse the trip their descendants made. The pictures are delightful and allow for open-ended narration and fruitful discussion of what it might have been like for each family to experience a new place and culture.

Strega Nona: Her Story as told by Tommie dePaola

We read Strega Nona a few weeks ago, and when my oldest found this at the library, she was so excited to check it out. This tells how Strega Nona came to be - from her perspective! My kindergartener loved to contrast this story with the original as well as enjoyed stringing the two together to tell one large story. I loved the sequencing practice it gave us as well as the chance to retell the Strega Nona story from memory.

What have you been reading?