Benefits of Being a Book Hoarder

In honor of National Young Readers Week, I wanted to share some thoughts on books.

Everyday I walk through the house collecting the books lying around in the kitchen, the bathroom, on the couch. You name it, we’ve probably got a book there. Sometimes as I try to find shelf space for the misplaced books I catch myself mumbling about having too many books. Hahaha! I get a good laugh every time because having too many books is a good thing and there’s no way I’m downsizing.

There are actually benefits to having too many books.  I should clarify that the books should be quality reading material with an educational element of some sort. A bookshelf full of crime drama or erotica is great if that’s what you’re into, but definitely don’t contribute to the benefits I’ll be referring to here.

First, having books means your kids always have access to reading material. Even if they read the same book twenty times, they are going to learn something new from it as they grow. Different ages retain and comprehend reading material differently.

Second, you can teach your kids about primary sources rather than going straight to Google, Siri, or Alexa for answers. When my kids ask what life was like when there were no cities and people were looking for new land to settle, we whip out books like Boomtown or Little House on the Prairie. And we read. And we look at pictures. And we talk about what life might have been like. What the world looked like before houses were crunched together in grid patterns. When a wild animal in the neighborhood was an opportunity instead of a nuisance. When you planted your food instead of buying GMO corn at the grocery store.

Third, books become handy resources for a variety of learning opportunities. I found this book at the library bookstore called From Sea to Shining Sea for $3. It’s a treasury of American folklore and folk songs and includes everything from Native American culture to the Industrial Revolution to America’s favorite pastime – baseball. We can read Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech and the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind. We can read a poem about Harriet Tubman and how she risked her life 19 times to guide hundreds of slaves to freedom. For $3 we got a book we can use over and over again. For many subjects. For years to come.

If you have a house full of books, it’s hard for kids to avoid reading. It makes it hard for you to avoid reading, too. That being said, some kids do need to be encouraged to read. But if you’ve got shelves of books covering a variety of subjects, there’s got to be something interesting that young readers will gravitate to. Drones, extreme sports, National Parks, rocks, horses, writing your own stories, Shakespeare, mythology – we’ve got tons of subjects in our nonfiction collection. Our chapter books and picture books are also overflowing from the shelves. When you have books available that you consistently share and read with your kids, they will eventually learn to read. And some of them will even grow to love it.

For more information about National Young Readers Week check out the Pizza Hut Book It! program, and pay a visit to your local library. Happy reading!

 

5 Math Books That Make Math Fun

math collage

Math is fun! Studies show that math is one of the most popular subjects among kids in preschool and elementary grades. But the new math curriculum, and math for older students shows a decrease in popularity. But even if your elementary student doesn’t like math, these books will make math so much more fun. With these books they’ll be learning math without even realizing it.

this is not a math bookThis Is Not a Math Book:   Art and math collide as children are encouraged to doodle and pattern their way through number-based activities. Learn amazing facts about math while creating artistic designs.

First Illustrated Math Dictionary: We actually get this book out intentionally. We have used it to make 3-D shapes, draw reflections (symmetry), practice using different units of measure, create number lines, and so much more. Don’t let the words “Math Dictionary” scare you. This is a must have for every early elementary student.

How BHow big is a millionig is a Million?: Pipkin is my favorite penguin and this story takes him on a journey to find out just how big a million is. He discovers lots of things about numbers and quantity on his adventure and the pocket at the back of the book includes a poster to give readers a visual of just how big a million is.

Lift-the-Flap Times Tables: Yep. It says times tables right on the front, but kids love lifting flaps and finding out what’s underneath. They’ll keep flipping and keep reading, which means they’ll keep learning. Easy and fun all in one.

50 brain games50 Brain Games: Flashcards, not a book, but all included in one box with a dry erase pen. This set includes lots of number and logic puzzles that keep minds working and learning. Who knew word problems could be fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Book List: Reference Books We Love

reference books

One of the things that we have an abundance of is reference books. Dictionaries, encyclopedias, and subject specific reference guides are some of our most used books. And the benefits extend beyond homeschool. Every student should have access to reference books that are easy to read and understand. Our reference books help us fully understand concepts and subjects we aren’t familiar with. This year I expect we’ll be using our reference books even more as we get into more difficult subjects. I’ve even got a list of books that I’ll be ordering to add to our collection. Here is the short list of the essential reference guides that every elementary student should have.

Illustrated Dictionary – 288 pages with over 1000 illustrations. Inside the Illustrated Dictionary you’ll find a user’s guide, parts of speech and their roles in forming sentences, hints and guidelines for writing and spelling, and a brief history of the English language.

Children’s Encyclopedia  – 320 pages with over 1,500 images. Packed full of information and includes hands on activities and experiments plus downloadable images, quizzes and activity pages. Features all the world maps and flags with facts and records and over 600 hand-picked internet links for additional exploration.

Encyclopedia of World History – 416 pages of history from prehistoric times to the 21st century. Includes a 12,000 year illustrated timeline, over 100 maps, and amazing facts and illustrations. We use this as our history book and will be developing several lessons from it over the course of the year. This book also includes Usborne Quicklinks and additional links to hand-picked websites featuring information and activities related to in-text topics.

The Science Encyclopedia – 448 pages of science with over 140 experiments, activities and observations. Brilliant images throughout the book with information on everything from atoms to energy to plant life. Quizzes for each section are available in the back of the book plus additional Quicklinks and internet resources. We love this book and are using it as our science book this year.

First Illustrated Math Dictionary – This book clearly explains math concepts, breaking them down into the most basic elements and helping you understand math step-by-step. This is for the early grades from pre-k to 3rd or 4th grade and uses fun illustrations and easy to understand terminology. If you have a student who has a hard time in math, this book is for you. If your student is 2nd grade or above, consider the next level up: Illustrated Elementary Math Dictionary. Just as fun and just as helpful but geared for 8 and up.

Author of the Month: Barb Rosenstock

author of the month barb rosenstock

So I was walking through the library – quickly – because I already had a bag full of books and my shoulder was about to fall off. But this book caught my eye, so I swiped it on the way past and added it to the load. Ben Franklin’s Big Splash. My son likes learning about Ben and Tom and George, so I figured he might like this one. I was right. We all love this one. So much so that I was prompted to go back to the library a few days later to return some others and search for more Barb Rosenstock books. We found more, we love them all, and I’m about to tell you why.

Ben Franklin’s Big Splash tells the story of Ben as a boy and how he came to find a love of solving problems and creating solutions. It speaks of how he failed, but didn’t let the failure define him. Instead he used it to propel him to find new solutions. It lists his major achievements and includes a timeline of his life. And then I found her website. When I searched for Barb Rosenstock I found something that every homeschooling parent and teacher loves – Educator’s Guides! Yep, all of Barb’s books have educator’s guides that offer activities and lesson plans to help you and your kids learn even more and get the most out of these amazing books. I’m in love.

Here is the list of the other books we picked up at the library and we love each and every one of them.

The Noisy Paintbox (Vasya Kandinsky)

The Streak (Joe DiMaggio)

Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library

The Camping Trip That Changed America (Roosevelt & John Muir)

 

Pick up some of Barb Rosenstock’s books and then visit her webpage here to get the educator’s guides. You can also order her books directly from links on her website.

 

Book cover images courtesy of Amazon.com

Historical Non-Fiction: What We’re Reading

historical nonfiction

We love reading and we love history. There are few things more exciting than getting a glimpse into what life in the past was like, especially when it is presented in well-told tales or realistic “you are there” language. We love our history book – we use the Children’s Encyclopedia of American History. But we like to supplement, and find other interesting books that tell the whole story and not just bits and pieces. So we’ve recently found a few historical non-fiction series’ that I want to share.

Blast to the Past – This series is about a group of school-children that run into historic dilemmas and are able to travel back in time to address the issue. For example, in Lincoln’s Legacy, he almost decided not to deliver the Emancipation Proclamation and the children traveled back in time to help Lincoln understand why the proclamation was important and see that his decision would change the United States forever.

My Name Is America – This series features a different person in each book and is formatted as journal entries. We are reading The Journal of Augustus Pelletier: The Lewis and Clark Expedition and are enjoying learning about his journey, his struggles, and the things he encounters along the way.

My America – The same format as My Name is America, these journal entry books follow a specific character for two or three books, learning more about their life as you go along. We are finishing book one of Elizabeth’s journey in My America: Our Strange New Land: Elizabeth’s Journey Book One. My son especially enjoyed telling me about Elizabeth’s relationship with John Smith and Pocahontas.

On My Own History is a well illustrated account of historic events such as the schoolchildren’s blizzard, the Galveston hurricane of 1900, or the composition of the Star Spangled Banner. The stories are sensitive enough for younger readers, but address the true event in a factual light.

Do you have a favorite historical non-fiction series? Please share it with us!

Women’s History Month

womens history month

March is almost over and while I intended to post this information much earlier in the month, busy-work kept me from reaching my goals. I found out early in the month that March is Women’s History Month. It began in 1981 as a week-long celebration and has received month-long recognition since 1995. Oddly, I don’t ever remember there being special studies dedicated to Women’s History Month during my school years, although we did occasionally touch briefly on important women from history throughout the year.

I wanted to be sure to emphasize the important roles women have played throughout history, so I made a point to dedicate some time and energy this month to teaching about some strong, passionate women that created change in our world, or at least left a really big mark. These are our subjects:

Clara Barton – Founder of the Red Cross; Provided supplies to doctors on the battlefield during the Civil War; Helped find missing soldiers; Fought for women’s right to vote.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton – Women’s rights pioneer; Helped women win the right to own property; Wrote an amendment to the constitution with Susan B. Anthony that would give women the right to vote – the law was written in the 1870s but was not passed until 1920, 18 years after Elizabeth’s death.

Harriet Tubman – Conductor of the Underground Railroad; Occasionally spied for the Union; Worked as a nurse in Union hospitals; Raised money to fund two schools for freed slaves; Built a home for the disabled and elderly.

Sojourner Truth – Abolitionist; Women’s rights pioneer; Met Abraham Lincoln and helped run the Freedmen’s Hospital for former slaves.

Sally Ride – First American woman in space; youngest American astronaut (32-years old);Professor at Stanford and University of California San Diego; Part time director of the California Space Institute.

Amelia Earhart – Famous female record-breaking pilot.

Helen Keller – Became blind, deaf, and mute at 18 months due to an unknown illness. With help from Annie Sullivan she learned to communicate through finger-spelling, reading lips, and eventually she learned to speak. College graduate; Worked with the American Foundation for the Blind speaking about the needs and abilities of the blind; Visited other countries to address the needs of the blind.

Mother Jones – Labor leader; Worked for fair labor, minimum wages, shorter work days, and child-labor laws.

Jane Goodall – Animal scientist; Studied the Chimpanzees and published many findings from her research; Founded the Gombe Stream Research Center in Africa; Speaks to address the need for conservation and protection for chimpanzees.

Elizabeth Blackwell – America’s first woman doctor; Trained nurses to work in Union Army hospitals during the Civil War; Opened the New York Infirmary in 1857 and it is still in operation as the New York University Downtown Hospital; Secretly taught classes to children of slaves.

Annie Oakley – Famous female sharpshooter; performed all over the world; Friend of Chief Sitting Bull; Star of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.


Who Was Clara BartonWho Was Clara Barton?

Annie oakleyWho Was Annie Oakley?

Amelia Earhart Who Was Amelia Earhart?

I made a few booklets for my son to use along with our reading. I call them “Fast Five Fact Books”. They are basically a grown-up version of the mini-books they made in kindergarten, but they require a bit more effort. He chose who to read about, then he wrote one fact per page about the subject of his reading. Also, on each page I gave him space to draw an illustration for the fact he chose to write about. Once he completed each book, we stapled it together with the cover page and he has his own books to come back and read later if he chooses. We are putting all of ours in a three-ring binder so they are easy to find. Here are the two booklets we’ve completed about famous women from history:

Clara Barton Fast Five Fact Book

Helen Keller Fast Five Fact Book

These include additional pages for writing and illustrating as well as a few notebooking pages with writing prompts. I also put together a set of notebooking pages about Knights and a Fast Five Fact Book for George Washington. You can download those here:

Fast Five Fact Book George Washington

Knights Notebooking Pages

 

Happy Spring!

The Highlight of Our Day

the highlight of our day

We’re all sick. The whole family. But there’s always something to look forward to, right? On the bright side, there were no tears in school today. That’s always a great feeling. Also, we got our book delivery. If you’ve been following along you may have read that I signed up to be an Usborne Books and More Independent Consultant. My number one reason is to have direct access to soooo many books and activities that I can use with our homeschool curriculum. My number two reason is to be able to help others get these amazing resources into their own hands as easily as possible. I’m a firm believer in the idea that kids benefit from play and that they all learn in different ways, and I became even more aware just today, how Usborne products cater to different learning styles and cater to kids and families with so many different interests and at so many different levels.

So, we got our starter kit and all of my materials. We are delighted with the titles that we got in our shipment and I can’t wait to share them with you. And the kids couldn’t wait to dig into them. Here are the three things they couldn’t keep their hands off of.

1. 100 things for little children to do on a trip – This set of flashcards comes with 50 double-sided, wipe-clean cards and a dry erase pen. They’ll draw faces and ice cream sundaes and fish. They’ll play tic-tac-toe, complete mazes, and dot-to-dots. Within minutes my 3-year old had these out and was making her way through the deck. She loves these. These are perfect to drop in your purse (or backpack) to give them something to do while they’re waiting at a restaurant, at the doctor, or darn near anywhere. And this is just one of the many flashcard sets available. I’m planning on purchasing the Famous Paintings set for our art study and the Dinosaur Quiz Cards for my dino-lover.

100 things for little children to do on a trip

2. 100 Paper Planes to Fold and Fly – The front flaps of this book give you the instructions for folding four different types of paper airplanes. The inner pages are awesomely designed paper to fold into super-cool planes. We’ve tried a similar item before, but it was difficult for my 6-year old to fold some of the planes. On this one, after I helped him with his first plane, he was able to complete the other three plane styles on his own and they all flew wonderfully.

100 paper planes to fold and fly

3. Secrets of the Apple Tree – This is a really cool idea. This “Shine A Light” book tells a story and asks you to find what’s hidden on each page. Hold the page up to the light and you reveal the hidden habitat beneath the pile of leaves, within the tree trunk, among the branches high above. Such a cool concept and the kids loved seeing the hidden images appear. You can also get Secrets of the Rain Forest and Secrets of the Seashore.

secrets of the apple tree