Homepreschool and Beyond

*Relationship *Routine *Readiness *Reading Aloud

  • Categories

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 196 other followers

  • A Balanced Approach:

    Homepreschool and Beyond will give parents the knowledge they need to find “balance” for their family. Find out what young children need to know—and how to teach it. Gain the confidence you need to relax and enjoy those precious preschool years—and beyond.

    “Susan Lemons gives you the blueprint…”

    • 26 Chapters
    • Covers all areas of development
    • Covers all areas of curriculum
    • For a ages 2-8
    • Developmentally appropriate
    • Literature based
    • Spiritual and character building emphasis

Archive for the ‘Reading Aloud’ Category

The Basics Of Homepreschool: Starting Early? Curriculum, Methods and More

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on September 3, 2014


How to Start Children Early—Curriculum, Methods, etc:

First of all, I have to make it clear that starting homepreschool–a deliberate, set-aside time to help our preschoolers learn–does not mean it is time to start formal academics. Study after study have shown that the current push-down in curriculum just doesn’t work. No study has shown any benefit at all to learning to read at age five or younger, versus learning to read at age 6, 7, or older—and in fact, studies have shown that children who learn to read later not only learn to read more quickly and easily than other children do, but they do better academically throughout their entire lives. This is because they spent their early years learning and doing real things instead of concentrating solely on formal academics.

Preschoolers should spend lots of time being read to, playing with science, taking nature walks, doing art, listening to music, singing, and playing, playing, playing! All these activities boost thinking skills, creativity, and vocabulary, and THAT benefits them throughout their whole lives. (This is true, meaningful learning for preschoolers. See the tab, “Goals of Homepreschool” and “Goals for the Balanced Mom” for more.)

Preschoolers don’t need “curriculum” as we’ve come to think of it, either. For preschoolers, life itself is the curriculum. Preschoolers can learn about science—plants, animals, weather; social studies—communities and community helpers; art; music; pre-reading skills; social skills; sport/physical skills; speech/language skills and pre-math skills—all through having parents who talk to them, read aloud to them, play with them, and provide real life experiences for them. (Don’t make the mistake of concentrating only on formal academics and “readiness” skills, when there is so much more that preschoolers can and should learn! See my tab on “Readiness” and “The Truth: Early Academics” for more, including links to research on the subject.)

How to Get Started

The best way to start homepreschooling is not by running out and buying workbooks for your preschooler, as I stated above. Workbooks are not developmentally appropriate for most preschoolers. Instead, start by establishing a simple daily routine for that includes a story time, art, music, and so on. If you want to, you can decide ahead of time what you’d like to read to your children about—choose themes or units, and then run to the library and find all the picture books you can about the subject. Then, simply read, read, read. If and when you can, throw in activities that go along with what you are learning about. For instance, when you do a farm unit, visit the grocery store and talk about how and where things grow; buy some whipping cream and shake it up to make butter. When you learn about zoo animals, visit a zoo. When you learn about community helpers, visit the police station and the airport, and so on. There are many “homepreschool” co-ops and homeschool support groups that offer these types of activities or “field trips”. (See my archives on unit studies for more.)

Methods: The Importance of Reading Aloud, Conversation, and Playing with Our Children

Reading aloud is the single most important thing parents can do to help their children learn, no matter their age. When you read to your child, you are teaching more than just the content of the book. You are teaching them about language, letters and print—that letters make sounds, and sounds make letters; you are also teaching them that we read from top to bottom and left to right. You are teaching them about grammar, vocabulary, and rhyme. You are growing their attention span, speech skills and more. {For more, see my tab, “Reading Aloud” and the archives on reading aloud and book lists.}

Conversation is vitally important to learning. Conversations always include the skills of listening, and then responding, which is different from just “talking at” our children. We can use conversations to build relationships with our children, to teach our children, and to facilitate their learning

Playing With Our Children:

It is important to watch our children’s play AND play with them. By watching their play, we can detect new behavior problems and nip them in the bud; we can discern their emotional state, and help them where needed; we can take advantage of teachable moments, and we can learn about their health (observing children’s play/behavior allows us to catch illnesses early.) Best of all, playing with our children builds close relationships and is tons of fun! {See my article, “Why Preschoolers Need to Play” for more, including links to research about the importance of play.}

Next time: Important Skills to Develop, Fun and Games!

© 2010, 2011, 2014 Susan Lemons all rights reserved. Portions of this post are taken from or similar to passages in Homepreschool and Beyond, used by permission of the author. Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

Posted in Academics for Four Year Olds, Academics for Preschoolers, Challenge to Parents, Curriculum, Early Academics, Getting Started, Homepreschool, Homeschool Preschool, Homeschool/homepreschool, Kindergarten Readiness, Readiness, Reading Aloud, Routines | Leave a Comment »

Helping Our Children Grow Close Relationships with God: A Reality Check, and a Suggested Book List

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on August 28, 2014


This next section of my three part series is going to be the toughest to stomach, but it is the most important. If you only read one part of this series, I hope you will read this part. Much of this I was already planning to post. In fact, the Lord has been convicting me to post it somewhere for a long time. It’s hard to do, because a lot of it is personal.

First of all, I want you to know that I understand that the information in this series, “Helping Our Children Grow Close Relationships with God,” can be overwhelming. My blog can be overwhelming, and my book too, unless you approach it with the right attitude. You need to know that all the things I’ve listed in the previous posts of this series (and in my book) are ideas…lofty goals to work towards. So take the ideas I’ve shared as ideas, only. You get to choose which ideas will work in your home, with your children, and when. But don’t try to do them all (at least, not all at once!) You don’t have to do them all. You probably can’t do them all. And (here’s the important part): Even if you could do all these things, there is no guarantee that your children will grow up to have the close, personal relationship with God that you hope they will. The hard truth is, every child has free will, and can choose to live for the Lord—or choose not to. Many loving, Christian parents, who thought they did all the “right things”, including myself, have learned this the hard way, and had their hearts broken. I say this not to discourage you, but to give you a hard dose of reality. I feel I can share these things because they’ve happened to ME.

My first child has rejected the faith and is living in a way that is not pleasing to God. My daughter is living for the Lord (praise God!), but now differs from us doctrinally on a few points. And, if you met my youngest boys, you would know without a doubt that either my husband and I are imperfect parents (true), or my that my boys haven’t fully submitted themselves to God (yet!) They are not easy kids, and they never have been. They both have “flashes” that show me what Godly men they might grow up to become, but their behavior in-between those flashes, especially the way they get along treat each other, isn’t always pleasant. But we struggle along, anyway, doing the best we can, praying for them, teaching them, and never, ever, giving up.

I still believe that homeschooling is the most Biblical way to educate children, and I still believe that it is the educational choice that is the most likely to produce the results we are hoping for (children who grow up to be Christians.) But those beliefs are tempered with the reality of the fact that there are “no guarantees.” It is our responsibility to do the best we can, but we must leave the results to God. If we have taught our children about the Lord from the time they are young, we can then claim the promises in God’s Word (the principles of sowing and reaping, the scriptures He gives us regarding our children, and so on.) HERE is a site lists many of the promises that parents can claim for their children, and HERE is another great site—scroll down for an awesome list of Bible promises regarding our children.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned over the years—things that the Lord has laid on my heart to share:

About our kids:
-Remember that God has given your children a free will. As the old saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” We can share the Lord with our children their whole lives without result. Some children choose not to submit themselves to God. Others say they have, but their behavior shows that they are not regenerated (not new creations/not living for the Lord as they should.) Others still may out and out reject the truth we try so hard to instill into them. Pray that your children would have soft hearts towards the voice of the Lord, and would come to salvation at an early age. Pray that they would be able to discern truth from lies. Ask the Lord to open their spiritual understanding.

-Remember that your children are watching you. Set a good example for them. Rebellious children will look for any weaknesses or inconsistencies in your life, and use them to justify their own sin. They will see you as a hypocrite, and call you on it. “Do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t cut it. Try to live what you teach, so that this doesn’t happen. Ask the Lord to change you, grow you, a help you become more like Jesus.

-Remember that we can’t be our children’s Holy Spirit. It’s not our job. You can’t convict your children of sin, or of their need of God, and so on, anyway. Only the Holy Spirit can do that!! We can communicate our beliefs, thoughts, and personal conviction to them, but it is ultimately up to the Holy Spirit to deal with them. Pray that your children would be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and that they would be doers of the Word, not hearers only.


About us (parents):

-Be careful not to make your children or your family an idol. Whatever you esteem, value, or think about the most becomes an idol. Don’t get so caught up in the lives of your children that you neglect your own spiritual life.

-Beware of parental pride: If you find yourself looking around at other parents whose kids are struggling or whose children have turned away from the Lord, and you are assuming that yours won’t, because “you’ve done everything right…everything you are supposed to….even homeschooled them”…then be careful. Pride is a sin. Pride is not pleasing to God. God says that He opposed the proud. You can be assured that if you are prideful about your children, at some time or another you WILL be slapped down…probably by own your children’s own behavior.

-Be careful about your attitude towards other parents who are having struggles with their kids. Don’t assume that they are doing everything wrong, or that they must be “messed-up” or “bad parents.” In short, don’t judge them. Don’t shoot the wounded. For all you know, they have poured their hearts and souls into their children, only to see them do the exact opposite of all they had been taught. Instead of feeling superior or judging them, pray for them. Pray for their children to return to the Lord. Love on them, and encourage them.

That’s it for the “reality check” for now. Think about these things, and examine yourself: Do any of these cautions apply to you? Do you have any attitudes to change? I will share some more specific things that are on my heart at a later date (Important Things to Teach Your Older Children–kind of a “spiritual lessons from the Mother of a Prodigal” type of post.) I’ll also share some important links at the end of this post. But for now, let’s go back to the “how” we can help our children learn about the Lord.

Remember that if we do all that we can do to teach our children about the Lord, we can rely on the promises of God regarding our children!!

Below is a list of the Bible story books and picture books that we have enjoyed. I’ve listed them by approximate age of usage.

Bible Storybooks

We started reading Bible story books to our children when they were very young. We try to be careful to choose Bible story books that don’t “add” to the Bible—guessing what Jesus must have thought or felt, for example. The usual progression of books in our house has been something like this:

1-2 years: Read-Aloud Bible Stories, Volumes 1-4, by Ella K. Lindvall

2-3 years: The above, plus The Beginner’s Bible, by Karyn Henley

3-4 years: The above, plus My Bible Friends, by Etta H. Degering (5 volumes)

Happy Day Books (available most Bible bookstores)

4-5 years: The Golden Children’s Bible
Arch Bible Books (available at most Bible bookstores)
Egermier’s Bible Story Book, by Elsie E. Egermier (this one is another favorite.)

5+ years: The above, plus The Child’s Story Bible, by Catherine F. Vos (This book is beautifully written. I like that it explains the orgins of Satan. It also covers more of the new testament than most Bible story books do.)

6+ years: The Bible, itself. You can find a listing of all the major Bible stories to read straight from the Bible, Old Testament HERE and New Testament HERE.

Of course, every family has its own favorites, and every child is ready to move up to the “more advanced book” in his or her own time. If your children have a Bible storybook that they really love, it’s OK to stick with it longer! The important thing is to get your children to know and love the stories and concepts in the Word. Read from a Bible storybook daily, and discuss the stories. Explain, in the simplest terms you can, what the stories teach us. Be sure to teach your children that these “story books”, unlike their other “story books,” really happened; they are TRUE.
To help our children understand some of the more difficult Biblical concepts, we also use specialized storybooks that strive to explain them as simply as possible (Devotional books):

My very favorite devotional for little ones (three and four year olds) is Stepping Stones to Bigger Faith for Little People: A Collection of Family Devotions, by Joyce Herzog. Just right for preschoolers, this is a sweet book that explains difficult concepts such as forgiveness, the blood of the lamb, living without fear, growing in holiness, and lots more, in a way that young children can understand.

Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers, by Joey Allen (titles include “The Scripture”, “The Mission”, “The Trinity” and “The Gospel”.

Little Lessons for Little Learners
, by Patricia Richardson Mattozzi (titles include “Angels”, “Heaven”, and “Prayer”.

Leading Little Ones To God, a devotional that explains the main Biblical themes, by Marian M. Schooland 4-5+

The Story of The Lord’s Prayer, The Story of Ten Commandments, by Patricia A. Pingry

Three in One, a Picture of God, by Joanne Marxhausen

Tell Me a Story: Treasures for Eternity, and others by Max Lucado 5+

Comfort for a Child’s Heart: The 23rd Psalm and Bible Promises, By David and Helen Haidle (This is a favorite of ours, one that we will read several different times throughout childhood. It is beautifully illustrated, beautifully written, and shares important truths.)

Here are some of our favorites for older children:

Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress, by Oliver Hunkin (8 years and up.)

Kingdom Tales, by David and Karen Mains (grades 3-8.)

The Young Peacemaker: Teaching Students to Respond to Conflict in God’s Way, by Corlette Sande (fourth grade and up.)

Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends, by Sarah, Harold, and Stephen Mally (Sixth grade and up.)

Battlefield of the Mind for Kids, by Joyce Meyers (a favorite of ours; fourth or fifth grade and up; a very important book!)
Discover 4 Yourself Inductive Bible Studies for Kids, by Kay Arthur ( I would say third or fourth grade through seventh or eighth.)

Finally: Conversations and Daily Life

Biblical concepts should be a natural part of daily conversations. If we are aware of the presence of the Lord in our daily lives, we should share this awareness with our children. Simple comments like those below are key to bringing our children into an awareness of the power of God, how to please God, how important prayer is, and so on. Talk to your children about spiritual matters on a daily basis!

“Aren’t you glad God made kittens for us to love?”

“It makes Jesus happy when you share.”

“There’s a fire truck! While we pull over and let it pass, let’s pray for the
Fire Fighters, and for whoever might have been hurt in the fire or accident they are headed to.”

“What does the Bible say about lying? Is lying pleasing to God?”

“Grandma called, and she isn’t feeling good today. Let’s stop what we are doing and pray for her right now.”

“Before we leave on our trip, let’s pray and ask God to help us have a safe trip and a fun time.” (This is a tradition at our house; we never leave on a trip without praying first.)

I hope this series of posts has been helpful and encouraging to you. As I said, I will be sharing more of my thoughts shortly. In the meantime, may the Lord bless you and yours!!
~Susan

PLEASE take the time to read the articles below. They are so important!!

Exposing the Seven Major Blindspots of Homeschoolers, by Reb Bradley

Christian Child Training Versus Free-Will by Barbara Frank.

© 2010, 2014 Susan Lemons all rights reserved. Portions of this post were taken from Homepreschool and Beyond, used with permission.

Posted in Book Lists, Challenge to Parents, Elementary School, Family Life, Holiness, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Homeschool Preschool, Homeschool/homepreschool, Homeschooling, Picture Books, Reading Aloud, Spiritual Matters, Teaching Bible | Leave a Comment »

Reading Aloud to Babies and Toddlers

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on April 1, 2012


Reading to our babies is one of the best things we can do to encourage their language development…and in the future, to help them love to read.  The best time to start reading to babies is before their birth.  Reading the same book to them everyday helps them become familiar with your voice and experience the rhythms of language.  Once your baby is born, continue reading to him everyday, even if it seems he isn’t paying attention.

If you have missed this opportunity, don’t be discouraged.  It’s never too late to start reading to your child!  If you have a squirmy, resistant toddler, read on for suggestions.

Read to your child everyday, even if he doesn’t seem interested.  Try to make reading fun—for toddlers, you can experiment with books to touch (like Pat the Bunny) and sturdy board books that don’t have many words.  Most toddlers are interested in animals, so look for books about animal sounds.  A perfect choice is Eric Carle’s The Very Busy Spider, which has textured pages to touch, and a simple text including animal sounds.

If your child continues to refuse to sit on your lap and listen to a book, try the following:

-Read to your child while he plays near you.  Hold the book towards your child, so that if he looks at you, he can see the pictures.  Don’t force your child to sit on your lap to listen to a book-we want books to be associated with positive experiences.

-Keep sturdy board books or cloth books in your toddler’s toy box, and stand books up near your baby when your lay him down for “tummy time”.  They might get chewed on a little, but that’s ok.  The idea is to help you child associate books with enjoyment.  (Supervise chewers carefully!)

-Try reading to your child when he is tired and wants to cuddle-like right when he wakes up or right before bed.

-Try reading to your  baby when she is  in their “quiet-alert” stage.  For older babies, this might mean right after a meal.  For nursing babies who fall asleep after nursing, try reading to them after bath time, or right after a diaper change.  Experiment—try reading several times during the day to find what works for you and your baby.  Once you find a time that works, try to make it a habit.

-Choose the right book!  Books for babies and toddlers should have bright, realistic illustrations (or photographs), simple, short sentences, and include rhyme and/or repetition.  Books you can “sing” to baby are especially good choices.

-Some toddlers seem to need a sense of “control” in order to sit still for a book.  In this instance, I usually let them have it (in moderation.)  I let them turn pages, for example, ask them to point to things in the pictures, and so on. But I never let little ones grab, tear, or throw books. Toddlers must be taught to treat books carefully.

-Very squirmy toddlers might need a specially  modified read aloud time for awhile: Don’t linger too long on the pages; shorten or skip text if you have to, or even  just “talk” to them about the pictures in short sentences.

Other Tips:

-Don’t read in “baby talk”.  Use real words and complete sentences. It is OK to use a sing-song, higher pitched voice, if it seems natural to you to do so.

-Encourage toddlers to chime in with repeated phrases or sounds when they can.

-Don’t worry about variety: It’s OK to read  a few favorite books over and over for now. Babies and toddlers love repetition, and learn through it.

Here are some of our favorite books to read to babies and toddlers (in no particular order):

Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See, Bill Martin

Goodnight Moon; The Big Red Barn, Margaret Wise Brown

The Three Little Kittens, Paul Galdone

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed (board book), by Eileen Christelow

Ten In the Bed, by Penny Dale (out of print–from Discovery Toys–a ‘singable” book.)

Very Busy Spider, The, Eric Carle

Read-Aloud Bible Stories, by Ella Lindvall (Great first Bible stories with short sentences.)

Farm Animals, Baby’s Animal Friends, (chunky board books) by Phoebe Dunn (there are others in this series, by different author. These where my baby’s favorites.)

The Foot Book, Dr. Seuss (short sentences, lots of repetition.)

Wheels on the Bus, (a pudgy board book), by Jerry Smath (another singable book)

The Pudgy book of Mother Goose, by Richard Walz

Little Golden books, such as:

The Animals of Famer Brown, Richard Scarry

Old MacDonald Had a Farm, (there are several  versons of this-they are all good, and fun to sing.)

My First Book of Sounds, by Melanie Bellah and  Kathy Wilburn

The Jolly Barnyard, by Annie North Bedford and Tibor Gergely

© 2010, 2012  Susan Lemons all rights reserved. 

Posted in Babies, Book Lists, Family Life, Picture Books, Reading Aloud | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Backyard Nature Study: A Surprise Visitor

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on October 27, 2011


We had a visitor in our backyard this week—one that really surprised us. Here’s what
happened:

The dogs were barking like crazy. They seemed to be barking at something on the ground. In the past, they’ve killed mice (our doxies are great mousers), toads (I can’t tell you how many toads I’ve saved from the “jaws of death”—I’ve decided to count  next spring/summer), baby birds, and kittens (they dug under the fence and dragged them out of a neighbor’s yard—so sad–but they survived, thank goodness.) Anyway, the dogs were intently staring at something
on the ground, and barking like maniacs. I sent Ben outside to see what they were upset about, but I quickly followed him outside when I heard the dogs starting to fight over it. Was it another mouse, or some other creature I needed to save? I could see something in the grass, oblong shaped, but I wasn’t quite close enough to see what it was (or didn’t believe my eyes) until Ben shouted, “It’s a turtle!”

Sure enough, it was a turtle, flipped onto its back. I quickly snatched it out of the dog’s reach and brought it to safety inside.

The turtle was completely pulled into his shell.  There were not even any visible openings for its head, arms, or legs. We put it in a plastic container with some lettuce and a lid filled with water, and waited to see what would happen. We weren’t even sure if it was alive.

But after only a few minutes, a little head poked out! While the boys watched it, I got on the internet to see if I could identify it. I had noticed that the bottom of its shell seemed to be cracked in a straight line across the upper third of its body, and there was a tiny bit of blood in spots. That “crack” turned out to be a hinge—and we quickly identified it as a box turtle.

I found out that the box turtle’s hinge allows it to completely hide inside its shell. (There aren’t any visible holes in the shell at all when it’s pulled inside!) It can open and close its hinge  like a little door. Also, while inside their shells, box turtles can move their hinge and “rock” themselves from front to back. There is a band of skin around their necks—almost like a tight, thick choker necklace—that their head retracts into. Josh said it looked like
leather. This little guy had three back toes and four front toes, both with impressive little claws, and it had orange spots on its body. Whenever it was startled, it hissed. We were fascinated!

The boys begged to keep the turtle, but I knew that its presence, even in a habitat in the front yard, would drive our dogs nuts. I also knew my dear husband had no interest in trying to build
us a safe place to keep him/her…so I decided  to find our visitor a new home, and it’s a good thing I did.

A friend knew a friend who kept turtles, and she agreed to take it…until she saw it, that is. She could tell that it was a female, and she could tell right away that it was hurt and might
be sick. She didn’t want to risk exposing her healthy turtles to a sick one. So I drove it out to California Living Museum, having been assured by another friend that they would take her. However, they take only indigenous animals, so they didn’t want her, either! Even so, it wasn’t a wasted trip, because they gave me the name of someone from our local “Turtle and Tortoise Club”, saying they did “recues.”  What a relief.

That very night we bid good-bye to our visitor and drove her to the man from the Turtle Club. He immediately recognized that her shell had been chewed, right near her head (I don’t know why I didn’t realize it—it was obvious.) Also, her hinge had small specks of blood on it, still. Additionally, by then, we had realized that she wasn’t eating. He assured me that she would be seen by a vet right away, be nursed back to health, and then placed in a good home.

So ends our turtle adventure–except…naturally, like any typical homeschooling family, we had to learn more about turtles!

Box Turtle facts we learned (besides what I shared above):

-Box turtles are land-dwellers.

-Our little turtle was no more than 5 or 6 inches long, but she was surprisingly heavy.

-Box turtles eat grass, lettuce and so on (as I expected), but I was surprised to find out that they are omnivores–enjoying snails, worms, and other insects as well (they eat the snails shell and all.) According to  Box Turtle Care A to Z,  “Wild turtles are omnivores and in will eat earthworms, snails, grubs, beetles, caterpillars, carrion, grasses, fallen fruit, berries, mushrooms and flowers. They will take a bite of anything that smells edible.”  Apparently they love corn on the cob.

-Their backbones and ribs are fused to their shell. Since they have backbones, they are vertebrates.

-Turtles hibernate. Our friend told us that their pet turtles stop eating before hibernation (that’s not why ours had stopped eating–it is still warm here, and too soon for hibernation). When it’s time for them to hibernate, some people put their turtles in the vegetable drawer of their refrigerators for the winter; others put them in boxes (with newspaper padding) and then put them on a shelf in the garage until spring.

-Box turtles cannot right themselves if they are flipped on their backs. If we hadn’t found her, she would have died.

-Box turtles are NOT slow. They are quick little characters, and can even CLIMB.

-Box turtles can live as long as fifty years.

This was a unique opportunity for us to see a turtle close up–it really was amazing. I’m sorry the dogs chewed on her…I’m sorry we couldn’t keep her…but I’m glad we got to study
her for a couple of days, and glad to know she’ll get a good home.

Turtle books we’re going to read for continued research (This is one of those “teachable” moments that we’ll turn into a mini unit study):

Box Turtle at Long Pond, by William T. George

Take Along Guides: Frogs, Toads, and Turtles, by Diane L. Burns

A Turtle in the House, John Gabriel Navarra

Album of Reptiles, by Tom McGowen

(We’ll see if we get off on a tangent of reptiles, in general.)

Books for the boys to read:

Let’s Get Turtles (A Science I Can Read Book), by Millicent E. Selsam (a longer one)

Reptiles do the Strangest Things, by Leonora and Arthur Hornblow

© 2011 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author. 

Posted in Book Lists, Creation Science, Family Life, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Homeschool Preschool, Homeschooling, Nature Study, preschool at home, Reading Aloud, Unit Studies | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Making Storytime Special

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on October 10, 2011


 (Classic repost, updated.)     

       Many years ago I had an experience I’ll never forget.  While visiting a friend’s house–a mother of preschoolers–I observed the following: Her little one brought her a book, and trundled onto her lap so that she could be read to. My friend pulled her up onto her lap, and started reading to her…but this was no ordinary story. It was the fastest story I’ve ever heard! There was no expression, nor any discussion of the book or its pictures. She read it as quickly as she could, just to get it over with. 

       I hope this wasn’t the usual way stories went at her house. I understand that she did have company, and she wanted to placate her child so that we could continue our visit. But the whole thing made me sad. It’s something I’ve never forgotten.

       Reading aloud should be a special time of bonding between parent and child. It should never be viewed only as an obligation—something to be rushed through at break-neck speed. Story time should be enjoyed…relished. 

       There are so many ways to make story time special. They are all simple, and so much fun!  Here are a few ideas:

 -Take your time and enjoy the story. Read a little more slowly than you think you need to. Enunciate your words clearly; your children copy your speech.

-Read with expression, and get into character: whisper, shout, growl, squeal, and make animal sounds as appropriate. Make male voices sound low, and female voices higher. Make each character as unique as you can–my boys love it when I add a southern accent for Hank the Cowdog.

-Encourage your children to chime in when there is a familiar or repetitive phrases.

-Pause at the end of phrases, to see if your child can fill in any missing words.   

-Try reading in new places:  How about a picnic read aloud time?  You can have a picnic indoors or out.  Maybe your little girls would enjoy a “tea time” reading. Read in different rooms, in your bed, in front of the fireplace, during bathtime, and so on. We love to read while snuggling on the couch, under a fluffy blanket.

-Try including pets or “loveys” (favorite blankets or stuffed animals) in your reading time.

-Extend your read-aloud time by acting out nursery rhymes and favorite stories, and watch your children’s play for signs that your read-aloud time is sinking-in: You’ll know you’ve found a gem of a book when your children include the book in their pretend-play spontaneously.

-Talk about the story:  Speculate: What might happen next? What could the character have done differently? Notice the details in the pictures, as they relate to the story. Ask your child to describe the characters:  What kind of dog is Harry? (A black dog with white spots.)  What is the one thing he doesn’t like?  (He doesn’t like taking a bath. These details are from one of our favorite books,  Harry the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion.)

-Notice details in each book’s art: How are the pictures made? Are they drawn, painted, colored, or collaged (what is the medium used?) Notice the artist’s use of color and light as well.

-Have your child tell the story, or part of it, back to you (narration.) 

-Give your child a “print-rich” environment.  Keep books at your child’s eye-level, to encourage them to investigate books themselves—or pick out books that they would like to hear. We used plastic rain gutters to make bookshelves right by our boy’s beds and provided them with reading lamps to encourage them to read in bed.

-Choose books that are about topics that are of special interest to your children. Consider turning books/storytime into a daily or weekly unit study or “theme” by reading about one main topic at a time, and by adding fun activities/art projects/dramatic play, etc that enhances the reading experience.

-Communicate to your children that books are important to you.  Let your children see you reading books. Share books that you loved as a child with your children.

-Buy books as presents; give books as rewards (books are only rewards if they are GOOD books. Check out my archives for “book lists” and my post on  “Choosing and Finding Classic Picture Books”.)

-(For older children): Read a book, and then watch a movie based on the book.  How are they different? Which is better? Why?   

-Something we do: Quote special sentences/passages from favorite books (and movies) when appropriate. Ask your children if they remember which books the sayings are from, which character said it, how he said it, and so on.

      Don’t just read to your children—make reading special!

© 2010/2011 Susan Lemons all rights reserved. 

Posted in Book Lists, Challenge to Parents, circle time, Elementary School, Encouragement, Family Fun, Family Life, Homepreschool, Homeschool, homeschool methods, Homeschool Preschool, Homeschooling, Mothering, Parenting, Picture Books, preschool at home, Reading Aloud | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

More About the Charlotte Mason Approach (for preschool through high school!)

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on August 7, 2011


If you are trying to wrap your head around the Charlotte Mason approach—if you’d like to begin using her approach in your homepreschool/homeschool, then you might appreciate the following links and ideas:

To help you get started, I would like to encourage you to feel free to start with two or three ideas that you can apply now. Although CM “purists” might protest, I suggest “gleaning” or “picking and choosing” only the portions of the CM method (or any method) that will work for
your family
. After all, curriculum and methods are simply TOOLS for us to use as we see fit. Few homeschoolers fall entirely into one camp; most are
eclectic in nature, using a little from here and a little from there to make a unique whole. I myself am a “unit study/ Charlotte Mason/Ruth Beechick/literature- approach” type of homeschool mom. I use elements of each of these approaches in our homeschool (you can find out which methods you gravitate towards by taking THIS SURVEY—scroll down to the second page.)

I take the best parts of these approaches—the parts that work for our family—and make my own custom “approach.” Personally, I can’t imagine CM’s basic ideas failing anyone. They add depth and beauty to your curriculum, to your home…to your life! Remember, if you are overwhelmed by CM’s ideas/own writing, start with just two or three key elements and try implementing them in your homeschool. I think that when you do, you’ll be hooked and ready to try more.

Here are some more details about several different CM elements that are important yet easy to add to your homepreschool/homeschool:

 *Work to train/develop proper habits in your family. So much of our life is habit! According to Laying Down the Rails, developing habits is like laying down ruts for a wagon, or tracks for a train…they make the path easier. CM herself says, “The mother devotes herself to
the formation of one habit at a time, doing no more than keep watch over those already formed. If she be appalled by the thought of overmuch labour, let her limit the number of good habits she will lay herself out to form. The child who starts life with, say, twenty good habits, begins with a certain capital which he will lay out to endless profit as the years go on.” 
Examples of important habits: Obedience, truthfulness, self-control, patience, temperance, orderliness, and so on.

Links having to do with habit training:

FREE e-book on habits

Habit training tips

*Give your children the opportunity to spend lots of time outside. The heart of nature study begins with spending time outside. To quote CM: …the chief function of the child––his business in the world during the first six or seven years of his life––is to find out all he can,
about whatever comes under his notice, by means of his five senses; that he has an insatiable appetite for knowledge got in this way; and that, therefore, the endeavor of his parents should be to put him in the way of making acquaintance freely with Nature and natural objects…”

   Charlotte suggests spending as much time outside as possible, even eating outside, when weather permits. You can extend your children’s learning by allowing them to start nature collections (help them label what they can) by exploring new natural environments together, and by reading books about what you see and find. (See my posts on nature study: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4.)

Expose your children to the best in literature, art, and music: 

*Read lots of “living” books. Expand your read aloud time! My goal is to read aloud to our children at least four times a day: 1) During Bible time,

2) During circle time, 3) After lunch/before nap, and 4) Before bed.

Even if you decide that the CM method isn’t for you, keep the read aloud time! The time you spend together with your children (and discussing what you’ve read) is the heart of the homeschooling lifestyle.

*Listen to classical music, and enjoy “folk” music together (“folk” music: Traditional American children’s music such as “You Are My Sunshine”, “Row Your Boat”, “On Top of Old Smokey”, etc.) CM encourages “composer study”, but the aim of composer study, in my opinion, is not only to get to know the composers, but to get to recognize, know, and love the composer’s music. Even young children can learn to name classical pieces like the “Flight of the Bumblebee” or recognize portions of “Peter and the Wolf.” Older children can begin to learn to identify the composer, too. And while CM referred to classical music, I like to expose my children to many different types of music—choral music, show-tunes, bluegrass, and “new” classical-type music (such as John Williams), American folksongs (lots of singing here), etc.  I want my children to develop an “ear” for music and LOVE music! So the best place to start is simply listening to good music and playing with music (rhythm instruments, singing, chanting, etc)—for enjoyment. Later, as children get older, they can begin more serious composer study and formal music lessons.

*Provide your children with a multitude of different, open-ended art/craft activities and expose your children to the work of the masters. Even preschoolers enjoy looking at fine art!  Look at and talk about famous art pieces with your young children…talk about the medium used, the use of light in the picture, etc. Open-ended art/craft experiences are important for many reasons; they provide an opportunity for children to express themselves and their emotions; they build attentiveness and patience in children; they build eye-hand coordination, muscle strength and small muscle control; they teach science (color mixing, light and shadow), language (talking about art/describing pictures), math (shapes/spatial skills), and art itself (art
appreciation; art skills and art terms such as “perspective”, “shadow”, “color wash”, etc.)

                                                                                                                   ***********************************

   By bringing these few elements into your homepreschool/homeschool, you will be giving your children a tremendous advantage. Perhaps consistently using a few of CM’s ideas will inspire you to investigate her philosophy further, or add other CM elements to your day. If so, great! If not, you and your children will still benefit from these ideas. Along with Bible training, I consider them to be at the heart of successful homeschooling.

~Susan

Helpful CM Links:

Charlotte Mason Help

Penny Gardner’s site

Be sure to download the FREE e-books about the CM approach at Simply Charlotte Mason. Also: Check out Simply Charlotte Mason’s take on making the transition to a CM approach…I like the simple way it is laid out here—but I must emphasize that there is no right or wrong way to use the CM approach; feel free to pick and choose the elements that work for you. Personally, my “basics” are the ones I listed above (they are different than Simply Charlotte Mason’s.) Also, I use more of a “literature approach” than a pure CM approach.

Catherine Levinson’s site, “Charlotte Mason Education”

© 2011 Susan Lemons all rights reserved. Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

Posted in Art, Charlotte Mason, Charlotte Mason Approach, Crafts, Encouragement, Family Life, Homepreschool, Homeschool, homeschool methods, Homeschool Preschool, Methods, Music, Nature Study, Reading Aloud | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Gleaning From Charlotte Mason

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on July 31, 2011


This article originally appeared in Home School Enrichment Magazine, issue 37, Jan/Feb ’09. HSE has graciously given me permission to reprint it on my blog. Thanks, HSE! NOTE: I will share more Charlotte Mason approach ideas and links in upcoming posts.

Even if you’re new to homeschooling, you’ve probably heard the name Charlotte Mason. Maybe you’ve heard other terms linked to her name, such as “living literature,” “twaddle,” or “literature approach.” Who was Charlotte Mason? And can parents of young children glean anything helpful from her ideas?

Charlotte Mason was a British educator who lived during the Victorian era. Her writings were first introduced to Americans by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay in her book, For the Children’s Sake. Soon after its release, homeschooling moms (myself included) were wading through reprints of Mason’s six-volume Original Homeschool Series. This series, though difficult to read through, contains many inspiring and applicable ideas. So many, in fact, that other homeschool moms started writing about Mason’s writings, translating them into a more modern, easily digestible style. Now there are numerous books, Web sites, seminars and curriculums dedicated to the Charlotte Mason (CM) approach.

The CM approach is perfect for young learners. Her mottos, emphasis on reading aloud, and use of short lessons all lend themselves naturally to preschoolers, kindergarteners and 1st graders. Charlotte Mason’s motto was, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” (1) The atmosphere of the home is important to every homeschooler and includes two vital areas: The emotional tone or feel of our homes, which is dependent upon the attitudes and relationships within a family, and the physical atmosphere in our homes, which is made up of the things within it—books, plants, animals, art, toys, and more.

Obviously, the emotional tone of the home is set by us—the parents. Remember the saying, “When Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? We all know it’s true. As parents, we need to remember that we set the mood of the day. Our goal is to exemplify the qualities listed in Galatians 5:22-23 (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, etc). Additionally, we must be conscious relationship builders within our family—good listeners and conversationalists who make together-time a priority.

The physical atmosphere of the home is also important. It should be warm, comfortable, and welcoming. We’ve filled our house with books, traditional toys, plants, and animals (I like to say I decorate with books). I want our home to be a haven against the troubles of the world. The discipline Charlotte Mason talks about has to do with the daily routines of life that keep us in order, as well as disciplines of habits. Mason states that most of what makes up our lives is habit.

“The habits of the child produce the character of man, because certain mental habitudes once set up, their nature is to go on forever unless they should be displaced by other habits. Here is an end to the easy philosophy of, ‘It doesn’t matter.’ ‘Oh, he’ll grow out of it,’ ‘He’ll know better by and by,’ ‘He’s so young, what can we expect?’ and so on. Every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits
in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend.” (2)

Mason emphasized that “a habit is ten Natures.” She believed that parents should help their children develop more than twenty habits, training them one at a time, starting in infancy. Examples of sought-after habits include self-control, courtesy, diligence, truthfulness, kindness, respectfulness, thankfulness, attentiveness, and so on.

 “Each of us has in his possession an exceedingly good servant or a very bad master, known as habits. The heedless, listless person is a servant of habit; the useful, alert person is the master of a valuable habit.”  (3)

Obviously, habits are easier to learn than they are to break, and the earlier good habits are mastered, the better. A wonderful book that pulls together Mason’s ideas about habits and how to train them is Laying Down the Rails, by Sonja Shafer.

The life Mason talks about comes from the influence of parents, the atmosphere of the home, and the ideas which influence our lives. Many interpret this to mean “learning is life.” While this is true, Mason seemed to think of education’s “life” as more than that. Mason often referred to both ideas and books as “living.” Ideas grow and change with us, influencing us in ways too numerous to expound upon. They become a part of our very selves. Mason believed that ideas, which often come from books, are to our hearts and minds as food is to our bodies. They are an important part of the “life” of education. Thus books, or at least the ideas in them, are called “living.”

Charlotte Mason says that every child needs “something to do, something to think about, and something to love” everyday.  The home is the ideal place to provide these things for our children. Other commonly used Charlotte Mason terms:

•  Narration: “Telling back” a story or experience, thus promoting retention and speech skills. This is sometimes called “oral composition.”

•  Nature study: Charlotte Mason encouraged parents to take their children outside and into nature everyday—even if only into their own backyards. Neighborhood walks and tromps through the woods or parks are perfect for preschoolers. Mason encouraged children to bring along sketchbooks so they could draw what they see. Parents can extend such learning by bringing along binoculars, hand-held microscopes, cameras, and field guides. “The child who does not know the portly form and spotted breast of the thrush, the graceful flight of the swallow, the yellow bill of the blackbird, the gush of song which the skylark pours from above, is nearly as much to be pitied as those London children who had never seen a bee.’” (4)

•  Picture study: Display copies of famous paintings for your children to look at. Discuss the medium used, and try them for yourself. Notice the use of line,  color, and light in the pictures. Talk about the objects in the picture: What do you see? How does it make you feel? Charlotte Mason suggests looking at pictures from one artist at a time.

•  Living books: Living books are “whole books” (not abridged), written by one author (versus a “textbook committee”) who knows and loves his subject. Classic books are living books. These are the books we can’t put down—the kind that make children beg for “Just one more chapter, pleeeze?!” Classic picture books are the books we enjoy, too, and don’t mind reading to our children over and over.

•  Poetry: Every literature program should include poetry. Start with simple nursery rhymes, and work your way up to A Child’s Garden of Verses, Now We are Six, Eric Caryles Animals Animals, Famous Poems Old and New, and so on .

•  Recitation (Memory Work): The Bible is perfect for memory work, as is poetry. Don’t memorize through drill—practice memory work by reading verses and passages to your children over and over. Play with words, and recite small passages throughout the day.

•  Masterly inactivity: Free time for constructive pursuits such as hobbies, art, exploration, and creative play. Mason advocated that children should have their afternoons free for activities of their own making.

•  Twaddle: “Dumbed-down” books or lessons; meaningless books written to sell a product, books based on a movie, abridged books, and some textbooks.

•  Short lessons: Charlotte Mason taught that short lessons actually encourage the habit of attention.

•  Copybook: What is more natural for young children who are interested in learning to read or write than copying their name, and later, short sentences from books? Copywork is a great way to learn to write. You can extend that learning for older children by using the methods laid out in The Three R’s by Dr. Ruth Beechick.

•  Geography: Geography for the young child should be related to the world they know (home) and the world of books. When you read a picture book that takes place in another country, show your child where the country is on a globe. How far away is it from home? When Daddy takes a trip, show your children his route.

As you can see, the CM approach is a natural approach that works beautifully—especially with young children. It makes use of principles that good parents use instinctively and trains both the heart and the mind. The CM approach can be interpreted and applied in many different ways: Some parents use CM with a strict literature approach, but others use CM methodology with unit studies or even the classical approach (which I think is developmentally inappropriate for young children). For more information about applying the CM approach in your homeschool, investigate the resources listed below.

Recomended Books:

A Charlotte Mason Companion, by Karen Andreola

Educating the Wholehearted Child, by Clay and Sally Clarkson

For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School, by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

Laying Down the Rails, by Sonja Shafer

The Original Home Schooling Series, by Charlotte Mason

The Three R’s, by Ruth Beechick

Websites: (NOTE: I cannot vouch for all the content of these sites, nor their links.)

http://simplycharlottemason.com

www.amblesideonline.org (good articles, classical approach; but be warned, there is lots of mythology included. You can read CM’s books on this site.)

References:

1. Charlotte Mason’s  Original Homeschooling Series, vol. 6 

2. Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series, vol. 1, p. 96

3. Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series, vol. 4

4. Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series, vol. 1

© 2009 Homeschool Enrichment Magazine, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

Posted in Art, Charlotte Mason Approach, Family Life, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Homeschool Preschool, Homeschooling, Methods, Music, Nature Study, Preschool Science, Reading Aloud | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Curriculum Review: Peak With Books

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on June 11, 2011


      Peak With Books: An Early Childhood Resource for Balanced Literacy, in one sentence: Before Five in a Row on steroids!  According to Dr. Ruth Beechick, author of some of the best homeschooling books on the market:

     “I think this book is topnotch. Any parent who used these lesson plans for awhile would be getting a good education in using books with children and building upon them to expand vocabulary, experiences and thoughts. For people who want to do the “living books” thing that Susan Macaulay has popularized, here is the Kindergarten program all worked out for them.”

      From the back of the book: “Peak With Books shows how to use popular children’s literature to build reading, writing, and cognitive skills in an inquiry-based environment. Instead of using a “skill and drill” approach, the authors employ conversations, questions, and meaning-based activities to stimulate children’s curiosity, confidence and thirst for knowledge.”

Peak With Books, like Before Five in a Row, is:

*literature-based

*encourages multiple readings of each book

*includes discussion ideas and activities related to each book.

*Peak With Books does not include daily lesson plans. Like Before Five in a Row, you will have to decide how and when to use the activities.

*You should choose the activities that you think would be the most helpful for your child; don’t think you have to do them all.

Unlike Before Five in a Row:

Peak With Books is written primarily for classroom use. Even so, the activities are easily adapted for home use.

Peak With Books is adaptable to ages 4-7…it is for advanced preschoolers, Kindergarteners, and First graders, depending on their readiness/development (some activities will may not be appropriate for preschoolers.)

Peak With Books is a curriculum. It is not a distinctly Christian curriculum, however, and therefore it does not include Bible/character study ideas (I prefer more of a Biblical emphasis; however, from what I have read of the curriculum, you would be hard-pressed to find anything remotely offensive or inappropriate.)

*It is not a complete curriculum. Its purpose is to build literacy skills, thinking skills and vocabulary. You will need other resources to cover Bible/character traits, as well as phonics, handwriting, math, science, social studies (history), etc for Kindergarten and First grade.)

      Peak With Books (PWB) uses 42 picture books; many of which are classics.  Additionally, related books are listed  (“story time extensions.”) The front of the book includes a list intended to be used to turn PWB into a sort of unit study or thematic approach.  Personally, I don’t think it goes nearly far enough for that…no non-fiction books are suggested!  Additionally, the books listed under each “unit” aren’t well enough related to me, and many of the topics are weak, at best. (Some of the weak topics include:  Bear Hugs, Caps and Hats, Circle Stories, and Walking. It does include some good themes, such as “animal habitats”, but without non-fiction books, so much learning is left out.) Compare these themes to my suggested units HERE or my unit study archives (see categories on the left sidebar.)  

     Peak With Books includes story questions (good conversation starters), music (mostly singing; CD’s are suggested), drama ideas, 84 finger plays (Peak With Books calls them “finger rhymes”), and 82 poems.  It focuses on early writing skills, “reproductions and retellings”, as well as learning games and activities that are intended to help children learn those “preschool/Kindergarten facts” such as letter recognition, beginning writing, colors, etc. Thinking games and memory games and included as well.

Conclusion

     PWB is a good resource for those who want to learn how to pull elements out of literature (parts of the story, illustrations, questions, etc) and use them to teach their children literacy, vocabulary and thinking skills. It would also be a good starting point for families who want to use a literature approach, and need some “starter ideas.”  But to me, it seemed incomplete.  It felt like the authors had a good start on a wonderful unit study, but left it unfinished. They only needed to add only a few elements to turn each book into a full-fledged unit study. Since no non-fiction books were used at all, I don’t feel it could really be called a complete “thematic approach” or “unit study; it is not fully integrated. It does fulfill its purpose: Building literacy.  However, for as much time as you would spend doing the various activities, you could easily enjoy a full-fledged unit study and achieve a better and more complete result.  In my opinion, Five in a Row is a  better option. It is much more complete, especially when you add the Bible supplement. 

~Susan

© 2011 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

Posted in Book Reviews, Curiculum Reviews, Curriculum, Early Academics, Elementary School, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Methods, preschool at home, preschool curriculum, Reading Aloud | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Most Important Books, Listed by Age (Part One of My Required Reading List)

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on January 5, 2011


Introduction to the list

Why another list?

     I realize that there are tons of book lists out there—and in general, I love them. I love them so much that I included a chapter-long recommended book list in my book—one that lists books just for children ages preschool through age 8.  So why do we need another list?  Because this is different kind of list.  As much as I love the lists, and as much as I love the idea of owning a million books, I’ve recently had to accept that a million books just won’t fit into my house—no matter how hard I try (and believe me, I’ve tried!)

What’s wrong with the other lists?

     Over the years, I’ve discovered many wonderful book lists.  But many of the lists I’ve found are too long and too overwhelming.  Besides, who can afford all those books, anyway?  And who can possibly make the time to read them all?  Most families—ours included–are forced to pare down our bookshelves and our book lists to those that are most important—those that we really don’t want our children to miss (O.K., O.K., I have to admit, I still have tons of books…we’ll still read lots of books that aren’t on my list…but I do want to be sure that my children read/hear the most important ones.  I have a senior again this year, and I’m realizing that there are too many she’s missed—and I don’t want that to happen with my younger two!)

     I have also found some common problems with many of the book lists I have found:

1) Many of the lists are developmentally inappropriate—either in regards to reading level or content.

2) Many of the lists nowadays include books that I don’t want my children to read, for various personal reasons (especially the lists from the public schools and public libraries.)  I just don’t trust their suggestions.  I try to choose books that show the difference between good and evil clearly; books that show parents in a good light; books that include a good over-all moral or redemptive theme (the sinner learns a lesson/good prevails/the characters grow), and so on.  I admit that at the high school level I struggle to weigh the pro’s and con’s of many of the “classics,” and the value versus the potential harm of many books (such as Lord of the Rings.)  How do you draw the line between “fun” and “fantasy” and “occult”?  <SIGH>

3) Many of the modern lists leave out the traditional classics, replacing them with the types of books I listed above.

4) Most of the book lists I have found are limited to certain age-levels.

        So I decided that I needed to make my own list—a special kind of list.  A list of the most important books.  Not a million books—just 25 books or less per age-range.  This is my basic list—my ideal list of “required” reading for my kids.  (If I could only have 25 books per age range, these are the ones that I would pick.)  I know I’m leaving out lots of good ones–I hope you’ll share your favorites with me by adding a comment.

Why do you include a listening level AND a reading level on your lists?  And why do the reading lists overlap in age?

     Children’s abilities, maturity, and interests vary greatly within the normal range, and so it is natural that the reading levels would overlap. 

      Once your children are willing to listen to longer books, they will enjoy listening to you read aloud books that are one or two age levels above their actual age or reading level. That’s why I include a separate “listening” level.        

     Once your children are reading independently, remember that their confidence and fluency will grow leaps and bounds if you allow them to read lots of “easy books” at first—yes, even books below their actual age/reading level.

     Remember that children enjoy repetition; they will want you to read aloud many of their favorite books over and over, even when you think they have “outgrown” them. 

     Finally, remember that these “reading levels” are not an exact science.  These are just my opinions of approximate age level.  I judge the reading levels by the difficulty of the words included AND according to my judgement of the content (story-line/theme) the book.  For another opinion on the reading level of specific books, check out Scholastic’s Book Wizard Site. 

      So, here we go.  Here is my list of the “can’t be missed”, most important books for children, from infancy through high school, PART ONE (and remember, there is a much longer and more complete list of books in my book, including holiday/seasonal books, just for preschool through age 8-10 or so.)

Babies and Toddlers

     What kind of books do babies need?  Babies and toddlers need simple text and pictures, bright colors OR black and white.  They like pictures of real things—especially other babies or animals, and they need books that include repetition. 

     Even if it seems as if your baby isn’t listening at first, keep reading to him anyway.  Reading to your baby is vital to baby’s cognitive, speech, and language development.  Idea for wiggly babies: Try skipping the text for a time and just talking to your baby about the pictures—or self-“edit” the text to keep it extremely short.   Babies aged 18 month-olds and up (or so) can begin to learn to identify and point out items in the pictures.) 

Note: I put a star after the books I’ve seen as “board books”.

 1.  Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See?*

2.  Goodnight, Goodnight, by Eve Rice

3.  Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown* (I think I have this one memorized!)

5.  It Looked Like Spilt Milk, by Charles G. Shaw

6.  Pat the Bunny, by Dorothy Kunhardt*

7.  Prayer for a Child, by Rachel Field*

8.  Read-Aloud Bible Stories, by Ella Lindvall

9.  Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown*

10.  The Foot Book, by Dr. Seuss (a first book of opposites, in rhyme, as only Dr. Seuss can do)*

11.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle*

12.  The Big Red Barn, by Margaret Wise Brown*

13.  The Discovery Toys Book of Nursery Rhymes, by Julie Lacome (out of print but worth the search; classic first rhymes and songs to sing, such as “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep”; not too long for little ones)

14.  Very Busy Spider, by Eric Carle*

Little Golden Books: 

15.  The Animals of Farmer Jones, by Richard Scarry

16.  Bow Wow, Meow!  A First Book of Sounds by Melanie Bellah and Trina Schart

17.  The Jolly Barnyard, by Annie North Bedford

18.  The Three Little Kittens by Paul Galdone

Chunky Books:  These are tiny board books that stand up in a circle.  Babies love the real pictures or animals and babies, and they are just the right size for tiny hands!  All my babies loved these.

19.  Baby’s Animal Friends (a Chunky Board Book), by Phoebe Dunn*

20.  Baby’s Busy Year, (a Chunky Board Book), by Phoebe Dunn*

 21.  Farm Animals (a Chunky Board Book), by Phoebe Dunn*

 Books to Sing:

22.  Old MacDonald Had a Farm (a Little Golden Book), by Kathi Ember

23.  10 in the Bed, by Penny Dale (a must have!)

2-3 Year Olds (the books listed above, plus):

(Note: Many children will be ready to move up to some of the books in the next section at age 2.5)

1.  Angus Lost, by Marjorie Flack

2.  Angus and the Cat, by Marjorie Flack

3.  Angus and the Ducks by Marjorie Flack

4.  A Pocket for Corduroy, by Dan Freeman

5.  Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina

6.  Corduroy, by Dan Freeman

7.  Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, (best of a series of “Monkey” books), by Eileen Christelow

8.  Gingerbread Man, The, retold by Jim Aytesworth,  illustrated by Barbara McClintock

9.  How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight, by Jane Yolen

10.  Is Your Mama a Llama? By Deborah Guarino

11.  Jesus Loves Me (a Cuddle and Sing Book), by Debby Anderson

12.  Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gag

13.   Mother Goose, by Gyo Fujikawa (or your favorite version)

14.  Mother, Mother, I want Another! By Maria Polushkin

15.  The Beginner’s Bible: Timeless Children’s Stories, by Karen Henley

16.  The Big Hungary Bear, by Audrey Wood

17.  The Little Engine that Could, by Watty Piper

18.  The Napping House, by Audrey Wood

18.  The Very Grouchy Ladybug, by Eric Carle 

Little Golden Books:

20.  Home For a Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown

21.  Little Red Caboose, by Marian Potter & Tibor Gergely

22.  The Golden Egg Book, by Margaret Wise Brown

23.  The Pokey Little Puppy, by Sebring Lowry

24.  Scuffy the Tugboat, by Gertrude Crampton

25.  The Three Bears, by F. Rojankovsky

Listening Level: Preschoolers (ages 3-5)

The Books Above, plus:

 (So, so very hard to choose!  I tried to choose classics and books that inspire the love of reading/fun. I cheated a little on this list and included multiple titles by one author in one entry. For a more complete list, see my book, Homepreschool and Beyond.) 

1.  A Child’s Garden of Verses, written by Robert Lewis Stevenson, illustrated by Tasha Tudor (or your own favorite version)

2.  A House is a House for Me, by Mary Ann Hoberman

3.  Bedtime for Frances, Bread and Jam for Frances, (part of a series of Francis books), by Russell Hoban    

4.  Biggest Bear, by Lynd Ward

5.  Christian Mother Goose, volumes I and II, by Marjorie Ainsborough Decker

6.  Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter, by Beatrix Potter

7.  Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh, The, by A.A. Milnes

8.  Complete Tales of Curious George, by Hans A Rey

9.  Donkey-donkey  and Petunia by Roger Duvoisin (out of print)

10.  Harry and the Lady Next Door, Harry by the Sea, Harry the Dirty Dog, No Roses For Harry, and others by Gene Zion

11.  James Herriot’s Treasury For Children, by James Herriot

12.  Katy and the Big Snow, Little House, The; Mike  Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, and others by Virginia Lee Burton

13.  Katy No-Pocket, story by Emmy Payne, illustrated by H. A. Rey

14.  Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Grey Bridge,  by Hildegarde

15.  Make Way for Ducklings, Lentil, Blueberries for Sal, and others by Robert McCloskey

16.  Over and Over, by Charlotte Zontolow (a couple pages of Halloween content; a book about the progression of the seasons and the holidays)

17.  Selfish Giant, The, written by Oscar Wilde, illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger

18.  Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson

19.  Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, by William Stieg (contains “magic” in a fairytale way)

20.  The Story about Ping, by Kurt Wiese

21.  Tikki Tikki Tembo, by Arlene Mosel

22.  Wee Gillis, by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson

23.  Wonderful Shrinking Shirt, The, Leone Castell Anderson (out of print, but oh, so worth the search!)

24.  Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney

Another Book to Sing:

25.  Do Your Ears Hang Low? And Other Silly Songs, by Pamela Cote

26.  (O.K., so I cheated! Rather than take one out, I have to add:  Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch.

 Beginning Readers

Listening Level:  Preschool through Second Grade

Independent Reading Level: First through Fourth

 1.  A Fly Went By, by Mike McClintock

2.  Are You My Mother? By P.D. Eastman

3.  Fox In Socks, by Dr. Seuss

4.  Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss

5.  Go, Dog, Go, by P.D. Eastman

6.  Hop on Pop, by Dr. Seuss

7.  I Can Read Series: Amelia Bedlia, Owl at Home, Frog and Toad (series), Clipper Ship, Little Bear (series), Mouse Tales and many others.  These are nice because they are graded for you. 

8.  “I Can’t” Said the Ant, by Polly Cameron

9.  In a People House, by Theo LeSieg

10.  I Want to Be Somebody New, by Robert Lopshire

11.  Nate the Great (series), by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

12.  One Fish, two fish, red fish blue fish, by Dr. Seuss

13.  Put Me in the Zoo, by Robert Lopshire

14.  Sam and the Firefly, by P.D. Eastman

15.  Step Into Reading Books:  I Like Bugs, Eat My Dust: Henry Ford’s First Race, George Washington and the General’s Dog, and many others, also graded for you…and like the “I Can Read” series, you can find books suited to your children’s interests. 

     Part two–coming soon!

 

 

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

Posted in Babies, Book Lists, Picture Books, Reading Aloud, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Book Lists Just for Boy/Girl Interest

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on November 6, 2010


     One of my readers asked me the following: “…Would you be able to direct me to some picture books, living books, classics, etc. that highlight male/boy characters to add to my son’s reading? I have found so many lovely books that feature girls as the main character but really want to find some that feature boys. My son loves Lentil (we kept it checked out of the library for 6 weeks and are going to ask for it again!) along with Mike Mulligan, Peter Rabbit, and other books about animals like The Story about Ping. But any suggestions you can share on books that have resonated well with your sons would be great. Thanks a bunch!”

        I have to admit that I’ve never sat down to make a book list just for boys (even though I have 3 of my own),  but I thought I’d see what I could think up.  Since I was going to make a list for boys, I figured I might as well  make a list for girls, too. 

        I tried to find books that might be especially appealing to boys or girls…books that included their special interests.  For boys that meant cars, planes, cowboys, animals (especially dogs and dinosaurs), and adventure stories–and for girls, I looked for books about relationships, animals (especially cats and horses), and family life.  I also looked for books that had strong male/female characters (especially those that give children heroes to look up to.) 

        This was harder than I thought!  After all, my children–both male and female–enjoy both kinds of  books if they are well written.  Almost all the books on the picture book list, for example, would be enjoyed by boys OR girls.  It was often hard to decide which list the books should go on.  I really had to go through my shelves to get even a basic list (and yes, this is only a basic list!)  I tried looking around online for other lists, but found little (only radical “feminist” lists for girls, LOL!) and Heart of Dakota’s list, which is partially divided by boy or girl interest (it looks really good.)        You should know that there are many, many more classic books listed in my book, Homepreschool and Beyond.   A note for those of you who already own it:  There are books on the boy/girl lists that are NOT in the book, so you might want to bookmark them or print them up. 

        Finally, be sure to remember that elementary aged children can listen to books (being read to them) that are 1-3 grade levels above their own reading levels (or more.)

        Anyway, here’s part one of the list—for boys.  I’ll post the list for girls in a day or two.  I’d love it if you would add your favorites as well by adding comments.  I love comments! 

        Enjoy!    ~Susan

Book List Just for Boys

Picture Books–

Beady Bear by Dan Freeman (a boy and his teddy bear)

Harry the Dirty Dog, Harry by the Sea, and others by Gene Zion

 Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, by Virgina Lee Burton

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight, How do Dinosaurs Clean their Room, and others by Jane Yolen

Biggest Bear, by Lynd Ward

Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Grey Bridge, The, by Hildegarde Swift

Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, by Helen Oxenbury

True Story of the Three Pigs, by A. Wolf, by Jon Scienszka

The Story About Ping, by Marjorie Flack and Curt Wiese

Lentil, by Robert McCloskey

Ticki Ticki Tembo, by Arlene Mosel 

Verdi,  by Jannell Cannon

Boy Who Held Back the Sea, The, by Lenny Hort, Thomas Locker, and Mary Mapes Dodge 4-5+

The Raft, by Jim LaMarche

The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper

Little Toot, by Hardie Gramatky

Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Boy Who Loved to Draw: Benjamin West, The, by Barbara Brenner and Olivier Dunrea J 4-5

Note:  The author, Gail Gibbons has written a series of non-fiction books that cover topics of interest to boys, including firefighters (Fire! Fire!), policemen, science, sports (Baseball, Football, Soccer),  and many other topics of interests to boys  including Sunken Treasure, The Boat Book, Trains, Knights in Shining Armor, How a House is Built, Lighthouses, New Road!, and many more. If there is a topic your son is interested in, be sure to see if there is a Gail Gibbons’ book to go with it!

 Longer Picture Books

Billy and Blaze series, by C.W. Anderson (a boy and his horse)

Calico the Wonder Horse, OR the Saga of Stewy Stinker, by Virginia Lee Burton

Merle the High Flying Squirrel (and others) by Bill Peet (note: One or two of his books are inappropriate, but most are wonderful.)

Yonnie Wondernose, by Marguerite De Angeli

Glorious Flight:  Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot July 25, 1909, The, by Alice and Martin Provensen 4-5+

Island Boy, by Barbara Cooney

Lentil, by Robert McCloskey

Obadiah the Bold, by Brinton Turkle

Hollings C. Hollings books:  Of special interest of boys are Paddle to the Sea, Minn of the Mississippi, Tree In the Trail, The Book of Cowboys, The Book of Indians

McBroom’s Wonderful One Acre Farm (part of a series) by Sid Fleishman  (we avoid the titles with ghosts.)

Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress,  by Oliver Hunkin

Questions and Answers about Mighty Machines, by Adam Hibbert, Chris Oxlade, and James Pickering

First Readers—

The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto (Step Into Reading book), by Natalie Standiford and Donald Cook

Frog and Toad, part of a series by Arnold Lobel  

Nate The Great, (part of a series of mystery books) by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and Marc Simont

First Flight:  The Story of Tom Tate and The Wright Brothers, (I Can Read series), by George Shea and Don Bolognese

George Washington and the General’s Dog (Step Into Reading) by Frank Murphy

First Chapter Books/First Longer Read Alouds-

Poppy and Ereth’s Birthday, by Avi (There is another book in this series called Poppy and Rye that I skip because one of the characters is rather rebellious and talks in slang.)  Although the main character in these books is a girl mouse, it is an exciting adventure story for boys.  It also includes strong male characters—and I mean characters—such as Ereth the porcupine, who often speaks his “curses” in alliteration, such as “Green grasshopper guts!” or “Bouncing bear burps!” Despite being old and grouchy—and complaining a lot—Ereth does what is right.)  Note: These books may not be for everyone.  I do have to self-edit some of Ereth’s exclamations, but my boys love this series, and Ereth’s colorful exclamations crack them up.

A House Inside Out  (all about the lives of those “others” who often live in our houses with us, such as spiders, mice, pill bugs, etc—fun fiction.)

 Stuart Little, Mouse on a Motorcycle, and others by E.B. White

Henry  Huggins, Ribsy, and Henry and Ribsy, by Beverly Cleary (a boy and his dog)

Encyclopedia Brown (series) by Donald Sobol

Homer Price and Centerburg Tales, by Robert McCloskey

Hollings C. Hollings books, especially Sign of the Beaver, Tree in the Trail, Minn of the Mississippi, The Book of Indians, and The Book of Cowboys

Carry on, Mr. Bowditch, by Jean Lee Latham

Matchlock Gun, by Walter D. Edmonds

Louis Braille, by Margaret Davidson

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl 

Great Family Read Alouds/Books for Older Boys to Read Independently–

Hank the Cowdog, (series) by  John R. Erickson and Gerald L. Holmes. This is our current family read aloud series.  All of us participate and take turns reading to the boys—me, my husband, and my 18 year old daughter.  We all love this series…it’s a hoot.)

Smokey the Cowhorse, and Will James’ Book of Cowboy Stories, by Will James

Treasure Island , by Robert Louis Stevenson

Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann David Wyss

21 Balloons, by William Pene Dubois

Black Stallion Series by Walter Farley

By the Great Horn Spoon, by Sid Fleishman

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth, by Jules Verne

Wilderking Trilogy, by Jonathan Rogers

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, by  Robert C. O’Brien (contains magic.)

Summer of the Monkeys, by Rawls

Teens and tweens shouldn’t miss–

Little Britches series by Moody

Call of the Wild and White Fang, by Jack London

Treasure Island  by Robert Louis Stevenson

Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss (the unabridged version challenging and great to assign as independent reading.)

Wilderking Trilogy, by Jonathan Rogers

 © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

Posted in Book Lists, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Picture Books, Picture Books for Little Boys, Reading Aloud | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Generations Radio Interview

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on October 22, 2010


      Ever wonder what I sound like?  I’m sure it won’t be what you imagine.  But if you’d like to know, you can listen to me on Generations Radio

    I was blessed to be interviewed this week by Kevin Swanson, a Pastor, author, leader in the homeschool community, and a homeschooling dad. 

    We talk about my book, the advantages of homepreschool versus institutional preschool, building relationships, the importance of conversation, music, and lots more.  You can listen HERE.

     Live the 4R’s!

                     ~Susan

Posted in Homepreschool, Homepreschool and Beyond, Homeschool, Homeschool Preschool, Kindergarten Readiness, Mothering, Music, Parenting, Picture Books, Play, preschool at home, Radio Interviews, Readiness, Reading Aloud, Susan Lemons, Teaching Reading | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Disturbing Article From the NY Times–“Picture Books No Longer a Staple For Children”?!

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on October 8, 2010


     Apparently, picture books are on the decline.  According to this article from the NY Times, picture books are no longer the “staples” of early childhood that they used to be. 

     Say it isn’t so! 

     The article cites several reasons.  One is the cost of picture books (I agree with this–new hardbacks are ridiculously expensive), the economy, and…guess what?  Another form of “curriculum push-down.”  Yep.  Here we go again.  Apparently, many parents feel so pressured to help their children  become early readers that they are pushing them OUT of picture books prematurely–many times as early as age 4. 

     Pushing them OUT of picture books, and choosing to read only chapter books to them, instead.  

     This is NOT the way to grow fluent, confident readers.

     Don’t get me wrong–I’m not bashing chapter books.  You know that I LOVE chapter books.  But preschoolers need picture books.  kindergarteners need picture books.  First graders need picture books, too.   Emergent readers REALLY need picture books.  The shorter sentences, the beautiful pictures and the familiar stories help young readers practice their reading in an enjoyable way.  Picture books build their confidence.  One of the best things you can provide for an emerging reader is lots of practice with their favorite picture books.  For goodness sake, my boys are 9 and 7, and while we read lots of chapter books, they still love picture books!  The best picture books are enjoyable for people of all ages.

    We tend to think of picture books as being immature or simplistic.  While this is true for some picture books (the twaddly ones), many picture books are actually amazingly complex.  The pictures are works of art.  The text often uses amazingly complex vocabularies.  The key is finding the right picture books.  (Be sure to see my posts on Choosing and Finding Classic Picture Books, and my abbreviated List of Classic Picture Books.  If you want the whole long 25+ page list, you’ll need to purchase my book!) 

     By all means, when your children are ready, read them longer picture books. Next, work your way up to real chapter books (usually around age 5-6.)   But don’t be too quick to give up on picture books!      

     Remember that pushing our children to “grow up” to soon–either emotionally or academically–usually backfires on us.  Our goals should be to help our children learn and mature without pushing them, but without holding them back, either. 

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

Posted in Book Lists, Elementary School, Homepreschool, Homeschooling, Methods, Picture Books, Reading Aloud, Teaching Reading | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Preschool/Kindergarten Unit: Community Helpers Theme

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on September 14, 2010


 A unit or theme about “Community Helpers” is a wonderful way to broaden your children’s horizons and help them learn about the world beyond home–their community.  It is easy to find books for this unit, and there are a number of creative activities to go with it—everything from dramatic play to field trips.

We usually spend 1-3 days per “helper” in this unit.  Remember to keep it simple; you don’t have to do every activity.  Reading aloud and talking about what you’ve read is the most important element.

Special notes about this unit:  Be sure to balance the safety lessons with your child’s age and maturity.  We don’t want to frighten our children.

 Concepts to learn:

 -Community helpers are special people who help and protect us:  Policemen, firemen, doctors, nurses, carpenters, postal carrier, grocer, baker, librarians, etc etc.

 -Community helpers often risk their lives to save the lives of others.

-Learn what the following helpers do: Policemen, firemen, doctor, nurse, carpenter, plumber, electrician, pilot, postal carrier, grocer, baker, librarian, etc (as appropriate for your child’s age and maturity.)

-Help your child learn the name of your city/state/country  

-Teach your child your address and telephone number (this will probably take longer than the unit—be patient.  This is simple memorization, and it’s important for safety’s sake.  See my book for more details on how to do it.)  

-How/when to call 911 and when not to  

-Safety rules (especially relating to pools, poisons, medicines, matches/stoves/fire, etc)

-Develop a home evacuation plan and practice it

-Practice what to do in case of fire/fire alarm (check doors to see if they are hot before opening; stay low to the ground; stop, drop, and roll) 

Vocabulary to learn:

Emergency; stop, drop, and roll; K-9; siren; poison; smoke detector, and the names of helpers and what they do:  Policemen, sheriff, firemen, doctor, dentist, nurse, carpenter, plumber, mason, postal carrier, grocer, baker, librarian, barber, pilot, employee, etc.

Generally suggested books to read/music, finger-plays, and activities:

If you can only purchase one book for this unit, I would recommend Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day; it pretty much covers all the bases.

Another fun general resource is the Sesame Street song and book, “Who are the people in your neighborhood”.  The video’s fun, too—and once you know the tune, you can “sing” the book (I always emphasize that “Mommy is your teacher!”)

 Police:

Books to read: 

What Do People Do All Day  (Richard Scarry)

Policeman Small  (Lois Lensky)

Emergency! (Gail Gibbons)

 Music and finger plays:

-Sing this “safety song,” from the TV show Barney, I believe: (Note:  If you know the original source, please let me know so that I can give credit where credit is due!)

Sing to the tune, “When the Saints Go Marching In:”

Oh, when I walk, across the street, oh, when I walk ac-ross the street, I always stop, look, and listen, when I walk ac-ross the street.  Oh, when I walk, a-cross the street, oh when I walk a-cross the street, I always wait for the green light, when I walk a-cross the street.

Here’s another “source unknown” finger play (if you know the original source, please let me know so that I can give credit where credit is due:)

Red says STOP (hold up hand in “stop” gesture)

And green says GO (make motions as if you were a traffic cop motioning people to go)

Yellow says WAIT you’d better go slow! (with index finger extended, wave hand across body from right to left and then back)

When I reach a crossing place (cross arms at wrists)

To the left and the right I turn my face (turn face)

I walk, not run, across the streets (“walk” with fingers)

And use my head to guide my feet (point to head and feet.)

 Activities:

-Block city:  Make a city for cars out of blocks.  Use chalk or masking tape to mark intersections.  Pretend you are a policeman, making sure people obey traffic laws.

-Make a bigger version of the above on your driveway outside and drive tricycles around it….Mom or Dad can be the “police” and dole out tickets for reckless drivers.  Mom or Dad could also direct traffic or pretend to be a stop light (“Red light, everybody STOP!” etc.   If you are ambitious, it’s  fun to add cardboard box “houses”/”businesses”, etc; the children can paint the boxes and lay out their “town”.  Some families rig up pretend stop signs/stop lights out of cardboard as well.

-Learn about stop signs and stop lights, crosswalks and crossing streets

-Play the game, Red Light, Green Light

-Watch for opportunities for your children to “meet” a policeman, especially a K-9 officer/unit.  Some of these units put on demonstrations at community events, often allowing children to see the officers and dogs at work, sit in police cars, etc.

 Art: 

-Draw our three large circles for your children onto separate pieces of white paper (don’t cut them out yet.)  Let your children paint the circles:  One should be green, one should be yellow, and one should be blue; let dry.  The next day, have your child cut out his circles (to the best of his ability) and then glue them onto a black rectangle to make a stoplight (from top to bottom, the colors should be green, yellow, then red.)

-Paint with blue and then add a sprinkling of gold glitter (the colors of police uniforms.)

Firefighters:

Books to read: 

What Do People Do All Day  (Richard Scarry)

Fire! Fire! (Gail Gibbons)

Curious George at the Fire Station (Margret Rey and Alan J. Shalleck)

The Fire Engine Book (a Little Golden Book, by Gergely)

Richard Scarry’s Busiest Fire Fighters Ever (A Little Golden Book, by Scarry)

I’m Going to Be a Firefighter, by Edith Kunhardt

Pickles the Firehouse Cat (Esther Holden Averill)

 Songs and Finger plays

Sing the song, “Hurry, Hurry, Drive That Fire Truck” from the Barney show

 Activities

-Pretend you are a firefighter:  Gather props such as an old garden hose, coat, snow boots, or any props you have on hand such as a plastic firefighter’s hat, badge, tricycle, etc (drive tricycles to fires with sirens blaring, then pretend to put out fires.)

-Learn about fire safety (see concepts to learn, above)

-Learn rules about lighters and matches/playing with fire

-Arrange a field trip to the fire station

Art:

-Paint with “warm colors” (yellow, orange, red)

-Make a crayon-melt picture (fire makes heat; heat makes things melt.  Note:  We laid paper directly in the pan and colored right onto the paper instead of making prints; we also laid towels around the edges of the pan to prevent burns.  When you lift the pictures out of the pan, watch out for drips!  See directions HERE.) 

 Mail Carriers

Books to read: 

What Do People Do All Day  (Richard Scarry)

Seven Little Postman (a Little Golden Book, by Margret Wise Brown)

The Post Office Book: Mail and How it Moves (Gail Gibbons)

The Jolly Postman (Aglberg; the postman delivers mail to fairy-tale characters; does contain a “witch” but otherwise a delightful book.  We also love the Jolly Christmas Postman.)

 Activities:

-Buy a wooden/cardboard mail box from an art supply store (Michael’s stores carries them.)  Paint, decorate, and then use your mail box to “mail” letters.  Be sure to teach your child what the flag on the mailbox means.

-Have your child draw pictures and dictate letters for you to mail to your relatives.  Show your child where the stamp goes, and the address.  Ask your family to write back, so your child can have the thrill of receiving her own mail. 

-Gather props to play “mail carrier”:  Large canvass/grocery bag, envelopes, paper, stickers, etc.  “Write” letters, “mail” and “deliver” them. (Don’t let preschoolers play with plastic bags.)

 About Doctors, Nurses, Dentists, etc

Books to read: 

What Do People Do All Day  (Richard Scarry)

Going to the Doctor, Going to the Dentist, Going to the Hospital (Mr. Rogers)

Jenny’s in the Hospital (a “Look Look” book by Seymore Reit)

Suggested songs and finger plays:

Sing “Miss Suzy” (sung to the same tune as, “There Was a Little Turtle, his name was Tiny Tim…” OR chant the words adding a hand-clap pattern such as clap your own hands, clap your partner’s hands, or pat your lap then clap.)

-Do the finger play, “5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed”  

-Buy a “doctor kit” type toy, and combine it with props from home to play doctor/nurse, etc:  Toilet paper (bandages), “band-aids”, etc (see HERE for more ideas.)  

-If you can, see if you can purchase a real, working stethoscope and let your child listen to her heart.  Alternately, see if your doctor will let you take a “field trip” to his office and use his stethoscope and to talk about what doctors do.

-Talk about health rules that doctors/nurses teach us and why they are important (get plenty of sleep, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, wash your hands, keep clean, brush your teeth, etc.)

About Carpenters, Masons, Electricians, Plumbers, etc:

What Do People Do All Day (Richard Scarry)

The Tool Book, How a House is Built, Up Goes the Sky Scraper, (Gail Gibbons)

Songs and finger plays about carpenters, masons, etc:

Johnny Works with One Hammer (one hammer-“hammer” with one hand; for two hammers, “hammer” with two; three and four hammers, add feet, one at a time; for 5 hammers, add bobbing your head.)

Activities: 

-Hammer nails (supervise carefully!)

-Use pipe cleaners as “wires” and make a sculpture (use styrofoam as a base.)

-Use frosting as cement and sugar cubes as bricks to build a house, just like a mason (don’t let them eat too much!) OR make a gingerbread house

-Talk about parts of a house (walls, ceiling, floor, window, door, etc)

-Drive by construction sites and observe the activity.  Don’t enter the site without permission due to safety issues. 

     There are almost unlimited possibilities with this unit…play “restaurant”, baker (make some homemade bread!), pilot, store (complete with play money and empty cereal boxes to buy) and so much more!  Look for other ideas on these websites below (note:  I cannot vouch for all the content/appropriateness of all the suggestions on these sites, so use your own discretion):

http://www.childcarelounge.com/activity/dramatic-play.phphttp://

www.preschoolrainbow.org/helper-rhymes.htm 

http://www.everythingpreschool.com/themes/helpers/songs.htmhttp://www.preschoolexpress.com/theme_station.shtml

     Have fun, and live the 4R’s! 

           ~Susan

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Art, Book Lists, Crafts, Elementary School, Finger Plays, Homepreschool, Homeschooling, Music, Picture Books, preschool curriculum, Reading Aloud, Unit Studies | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Building Your Home Library: Online Resources

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on August 23, 2010


      Have you discovered online libraries? They are an inexpensive way to “build” your home library.   One of the neatest things about these resources is that many of the very popular, “living” books—those that are being reprinted by companies like Yesterday’s Classics—can be found online for FREE.  How can they be offered for free?  Well, these books are in “public domain”—printed before 1923.  So if you need an older book and don’t have the money to purchase a hard copy, be sure to search online first.  I usually get the best results by searching for the book title this way:  read “Tom Sawyer” online.    

      I do prefer “real” books—books I can hold in my hands.  However, you can’t beat the price or ease of online books–and there are no storage problems, either!  

      Some families choose to print out their books, but I find it more economical to simply bookmark them in a special ‘favorites” file and then use them as needed. 

     Be sure to learn about the features of each site.  Many sites let you “bookmark” your place in each book, read by chapter, and some even let you print by chapter/page/etc (great for copywork!) After checking out the book online, sometimes I do choose to purchase a reprint of the book. 

      Disclaimer:  Don’t forget that like any “library”, once you start searching you’re likely to find very good books and very bad books.  I’ve been shocked to see that many of the old texts are very secular–even “new age” in nature (such as many of the books you’ll find for “nature study.”)  There are also some very moral-even Godly texts to find.  Be sure to preview your choices carefully.  Many include references to mythology, magic, Halloween, etc.  Obviously I haven’t had the time to look through all these resources in detail, so use discretion.

      Here are some of my favorite online libraries:

Textbooks and Curriculum Online

An Old Fashioned Education:  I think this is the best site for finding homeschool curriculum, literature, and textbooks online.  Best of all, you can search by subject…and what subjects!  Besides the usual school subjects, you can search under Bible and religion, character and etiquette, fiction for boys, fiction for girls, and lots more. 

19th Century Textbooks:  Here you can find the New England Primer, Spencerian Handwriting, Osgood’s American Primer (reading lessons–you can also find the third and fifth grade readers in this series),  McGruffy Readers and more on this site.  I especially like the looks of this book.  

Don Potter:  Lots of old texts, including phonics and math, as well as Noah Webster’s 1824 Spelling Book

Baldwin Project’s “Main Lesson”  

Ambleside Online:   Classically inspired Charlotte Mason-year by year book plans (outlines of what to study); not really a library, but a free curriculum plan.

Guest Hollow:  Complete history plan,  science plans using real books and lots more; again, not really a “library”, but free curriculum plan.

Literature

The Baldwin Online Children’s Literature Project  and Baldwin’s list of 549 Best Online Classic Children’s Books Online

Children’s Books Online: Lots of graded readers.

Library of Congress   

Classics for Young People

Literature.org

Google Books:  Search by author or subject, such as “nature study” or “arithmetic”; some of the nature study texts are amazingly “new age”/secular, so be especially careful to pre-read.

Project Gutenberg 

Bartleby.com:  Literature, reference, and verse.

Specific Online Titles:

     These worthwhile titles have been rediscovered thanks to companies like Yesterday’s Classics OR because they are promoted by various homeschooling methods or curriculums—especially the more “literature based” programs.

Nature Study:  A Pupil’s Textbook 

 Nature books by Fabre

Read Thorton Burgess books online:  Some families love these, others dislike them because of their frequent references to “Mother Nature”, and so on. 

Parables from Nature

Handbook of Nature Study:  An awesome classic by Emma Comstock.  Don’t forget this wonderful blog, Handbook of Nature Studies, which brings the book to life.  This could be all you need for science until late elementary/Jr. high.

Books by H.E. Marshall:  These history books are promoted by classical homeschoolers and some titles are included in  Ambleside Online and Guest Hollow’s history plan, among others:

This Country of Ours 

Our Island Story (too “classical” in nature/too heavy for me, but some families love it)

A more complete list of Marshall’s books is HERE. 

Fifty Famous Stories Retold  by Baldwin

Laura Lee Hope Books (Bobbsey Twins)

Ten Boys who Lived Long Ago to Now

Eggleston’s Stories of American Life and Adventure 

Eggleston’s Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans and A First Book in American History: Used in Heart of Dakota, etc; scroll through to find other titles by Edward Eggleston, for various ages.

History/Bible/Biography Books by Josephine Pollard: Various titles, including A Child’s History of the Battles of America and the The Life of George Washington, written in 1893!  No revisionist history here! Some are written to accomodate younger readers. 

Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible

Among the Forest People and others by Clara Dillingham Pierson

The Beginner’s American History by D.H. Montgomery:  This one looks great! Very narritive in style.

 Reference

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary (searchable):  I think this is the best dictionary in the world.  The book is HUGE and very expensive, so if you can’t afford the real thing, use this site.  This dictionary is especially useful when studying older literature (many of the original words are now out of common use or have different meanings).  We also love to use it because it is Biblical.  The definitions of character traits and words like “education” are priceless.  Check it out!

Bartelby’s: Huge reference library

One look:  Search 629 different online dictionaries

Elements of Style: Grammar/writing handbook, 1918 edition.

Have fun!  ~Susan

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Book Lists, Curriculum, Elementary School, Freebies, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Nature Study, Picture Books, Reading Aloud | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Building Your Home Library

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on August 14, 2010


   

     This is (a part of) our home library.  I believe that every home should have books in it.  I always feel sad when I visit a house with no bookshelves in it….the house feels empty somehow…it just doesn’t feel like a home to me.   

   

     We have books in every room of the house (yes, even the bathrooms have books sitting near the potty…perfect for extended “sitting”, LOL.)     

     I like to say that I “decorate” with books.  In fact, I’m so crazy for books that finding room for bookshelves was one of our primary considerations when we purchased our house.  In Educating the Wholehearted Child, Sally Clarkson says that her family falls just short of “book envy and book covetousness.”  I feel the same way!   

   

   Choosing Good Books   

      I have very high standards when it comes to the books that go into our library.  I try to pre-read or at least preview books before they go into our library—especially if I am unfamiliar with the author.  I have a shelf in my room nearly full of books just waiting for me to read and approve (or disapprove—often you can tell just a few pages.)  Some of my standards are unexplainable—who can account for taste?  But some of my standards I can explain—and so I’ll try to do so below.   

     The overall rule for acceptable content in literature comes from the Word of God.  Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  And Psalm 101:3 says, “I will set before my eyes no vile thing.”   I therefore avoid books with witches, demons, mythology, and other “paranormal” content, as well as books that directly or indirectly contradict our beliefs or “teach” lies (wrong ways of thinking, evolution, wrong attitudes, etc.)  And I ask myself:   

-Does the book present an accurate picture of the character of God?   

-Does the book encourage good morals?  Is sin punished and good behavior rewarded?  Does good triumph over evil?   

-Does the book “teach” a good lesson?   

– Are parents and other authority figures presented in a good light, or made to look “dumb”, cruel, abusive, etc?  Are children written as “misunderstood” by adults?   

-Does the book encourage rebellion?   

-Is the book “twaddle”?    

(A small part of my Landmark collection--you can recognize them by their distinctive spines.)

 -Does it exist simply to sell a product or promote a television show?  Is it based off a movie?  If so, it is probably “twaddle” and not worth the time.   

-Is it something adults enjoy, too?  Something you don’t mind reading over and over?   

-Is the book a “classic” or a “living book”?    

-Does the book leave you “hanging” (feeling as if the story isn’t really finished?  I hate that!)   

-I like books that “swallow me up.”  You know what I mean—books written so well that your imagination takes over, and instead of seeing the print, you only “see” the story.  I also like books that make me think.   

    

-I like books whose characters seem real and have depth (you have to care about what happens to them.)   

Where to Find Your Books    

   If you don’t have lots of money to spend on growing your home library (who does?), you’re going to have to be persistent and patient.  Over the years, we’ve built up our library by scouring yard sales, estate sales, thrift stores, and library book sales.  You can do the same!  (It’s the thrill of the hunt, baby!  If you ever go to a yard sale or book sale and find a Landmark book or a Happy Hollister’s book when you know other collectors came before you somehow missed it, you’ll know what I mean.)  Other sources you might investigate include Yahoo loops that allow “sale days” (where members can post books for sale via the internet), chat groups devoted to buying and selling books, and the old standbys EBay and Amazon, which also sell used books–some for as little as a penny (plus shipping.)  You might consider budgeting for books as part of your homeschool curriculum, which can then be added to you home library.   

Happy Hollisters Books

 Organizing Your Books   

     Why spend all that time and money acquiring a home library if it isn’t organized?  Without organization, you won’t know what you have, and you won’t be able to find what you have when you need it.  I’ve divided my books into categories.  I used to label some of my less “special” (i.e. non-collectable books) using colored tape, stickers, or file labels covered with clear strapping tape (this can damage books, so don’t EVER do this on hard to find/vintage books.) 

This obviously makes the books easier to find and re-shelve.  But now that my children are growing older, I simply shelve books together by subject, and instruct the children to always put them back where they came from.  If they don’t know, they are instructed ask me to put them away.   

     I do shelve some of our books by author—but only the special authors I that I collect (Gene Stratton Porter, Genevieve Foster, Marguerite D’Angeli, Marguerite Henry, C.W. Anderson, etc.)    

     Here are my categories:  One whole bookshelf is devoted to Picture Books, and one is full of Easy Readers (when my children were young, these were divided into sub-categories.)  I also keep chapter books for younger children together (First Chapter Books), and  divide the rest into Middle Literature and Preteen-Adult Literature—some grouped by author.  Additionally, there is a whole shelf devoted to Famous Animal Stories (especially dogs and horses); a full shelf of Missionary Stories; a couple of shelves of Religious books and Reference, a full shelf of Poetry, a full shelf of Eyewitness books, and a shelf for Art, Artists and Architecture.   Holiday books are kept in tubs and placed across the top of the longest wall of shelves (divided by holiday.)  I also keep my Seasonal books up there (summertime, wintertime, etc.)    

      History/Geography is divided into these major categories (these topics have at least one shelf each):   

General World History; Ancient History; Middle Ages/Renaissance (Kings, Queens, castles, etc);  Geography/Places to Know/Cultures; Early American History (Columbus until Civil War); Civil War/Slavery/Reconstruction; Later American History (approximately from the late 1800’s until the present, excluding the major wars); Wars and Warfare (World Wars, later wars, war craft, weapons, etc); Biographies (some biographies are shelved with their time period—i.e. Lincoln is shelved with the Civil War).  California History shares part of a shelf with the topic, Ships, Sailors and the Sea (pirates, etc).   

     Science is divided up into these major categories (most are only a part of a shelf):  Field guides/General Nature Study; Creation Science/Dinosaurs/Archeology (one shelf); Science Experiments/Microscopes/Disaster Science and Spies share a shelf; Human Body/Medicine (& history of—one full shelf); Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians (one shelf), Insects, Trees and Plants (one shelf); Oceans/Ocean Life (one shelf); Habitats (one shelf); Disaster Science/Weird Science/Spy Technology (one shelf); Science Sets/Reference (one shelf); Space/Astronomy/Weather share a shelf, as do Rocks, Caves, and Volcanoes (earth science); How Things Are Made/How Things Work; Energy, Gravity, Physics, and Technology (engines, machines, inventions—including airplanes, etc).   

 

Book Lists and Books About Books   

       There are many ways to “find” good books.  A good place to start is in homeschool catalogs.  I you see a certain book praised in several different catalogs, it is probably a fairly safe bet. However, even within homeschool catalogs I have found books that I would never want my children to read and some that I felt were a waste of time (twaddle…as I said, I’m very picky.  Additionally, some books fall into another special category—books we don’t read because we find their content objectionable, but for the sake of cultural relevance, we’ll discuss the premise of the book and/or read a summary of it.)    

     Here are my favorite ways to find good quality literature books:   

-Stick to the classics.  It’s disturbing to me that so many of the great classics don’t even appear on book lists nowadays (especially government school book lists.)  It’s better to have a few of the very best books than shelves and shelves of “twaddle”.   

-It’s not always true, but in general, books written before the 1950’s will be less likely to contain offensive material and MORE likely to include references to God or good morals.   

-Learn about the great authors.  Once again, there are exceptions, but in general, when you find an author you like, it’s a good idea to seek out the other books s/he has written.   

-Seek out a mentor/friend who has the same standards as you do, and ask for recommendations.   

My "First Book of" collection

-Use books about books:  A some of the best are:  Honey for a Child’s Heart,  Turning Back the Pages of Time, Books Children Love,  and Who Then Should We Read?   

    There are many others, but these are my favorites.    

     If you have a preschooler, you will find that these books list very few picture books.  That’s why I included an almost chapter-long list of books especially for preschool-third grade (25 pages of mostly picture books!)    

     There are also some good booklists online.  Here are some of the more popular ones (remember, I can’t vouch for each and every book on these lists–they are just a “jumping off” point for you.  You must still investigate your books before purchasing.  Some of these lists DO contain books relating to mythology and magic..use your own judgement.  These lists can introduce you to authors and titles that you may not be familiar with, but tread carefully.) 

Five In a Row Book Lists (very highly recomended; no objectionable content that I am aware of.)  

1000 Good Books List  

Eager Reader Website   

My favorite catalogs for literature (not mentioned above):  

Purple House Press (reprints of classic picture books!) 

The Book Peddler   

Lifetime Books and Gifts   

Winter Promise  

My Father’s World    

     Final tips:  When you’re just starting your library, take your wish list, a list of the books you already have (especially the books from any series you’re collecting) AND a book about books with you whenever you hunt for books (better yet, just keep it in your purse/car.)  This will help you decide if a book is appropriate, remember what you’re looking for, AND help you avoid buying doubles.  

        Happy hunting!   

                 ~Susan    

Books I Collect:  Landmark books, “First” books, Gene Stratton Porter books, Marguerite Henry books (this website does not contain a complete list of her books.  Cinnabar the One O’Clock Fox is missing, among others, I’m sure), Happy Hollister Books, Marguerite de Angeli books,  and many, many others!!     

Portions of this post were paraphrased from Homepreschool and Beyond, used with permission.  © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.   Remember, copyrighted materials may not be used or re-posted without permission. 

Posted in Book Lists, Elementary School, Homepreschool, Homepreschool and Beyond, Picture Books, Reading Aloud | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Helpful Advice for Homeschooling Elementary School-Aged Children

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on June 12, 2010


Simplify the Curriculum, or “Colette’s List of 10 Things  (with my own comments added):

1).  Keep everything as simple as you can. Jesus wrote with a stick in the dirt, and He was the greatest teacher that ever lived. He used no curriculum or flannel graphs or lesson plans. Homeschooling can be made far more complicated than it should be. A simpler approach is much more effective.

     Why do we make things so difficult for ourselves?  Why do we feel we need to spend hundreds of dollars on curriculum, “educational toys”, manipulatives, etc to homeschool successfully?  Why do we glue ourselves to one single method or curriculum? 

      Remember, there is no perfect curriculum.  There is no special toy/manipulative or magical homeschooling method that will teach your children and solve all your problems.  The truth is, we can make almost anything “work” as curriculum if we need to–in fact, before buying curriculum, it’s always a good idea to ask yourself if it is really necessary at all.  Many topics can be taught naturally using real books and discussion. 

     The key to homeschool success is relationship–your relationship with your children; the time you spend working with them one-on-one; your ability to individualize your methods and curiculum; the time you spend reading aloud and then discussing what you’ve read.  Relationship is more important than curriculum (or method.)

2).  Stick to the 3 R’s. They form the foundation of life-long learning in every field because they are the tools of study. There will be no need to formalize any other subject if the children are doing their best in these 3, because people who are well grounded in reading, writing and math will approach other subjects boldly, independently and confidently.

     I have to add Bible to that…I believe our most important subjects are Bible/Christian Character, math, and language arts.  We should concentrate most of our time on these.  Be sure to go for mastery, not just “exposure” in these subjects.  I have a good friend who says, “If your child knows and loves the Lord, loves to learn, can read and write well, knows basic math, and knows how to do research –then what else does he need?”   (Thanks, Peggy!)

     Do you worry about “gaps”?!  Things your children will miss?  All children have “gaps”.  You have them, too.  There is simply too much to learn; no one can master it all.  But if you love to learn and if you know how to do research, you will want to fill those gaps when they come up–and you’ll know how to do so.  You will be a lifelong learner.

     Don’t get me wrong; I do want my children to know science, history, geography, etc.  We do teach those subjects in our homeschool.  I also believe that art and music are important.  But sometimes we overlook the fact that our children learn lots from real life, being read to and through independent reading.  We make things harder than they need to be.  If your children haven’t mastered the basics yet, try concentrating on mastering them  for awhile.  For your other subjects, read aloud to your children, and discuss what you’ve read.  Also encourage your children to explore their own interests during their free time. 

3).  Let the children teach themselves as much as they are able to. This teaches them responsibility, intellectual independence, and builds confidence. It’s also better for the parent/child relationship because you can focus on parenting instead of playing schoolteacher.

     I agree, and yet disagree with this one.  I make it a rule not to do anything for my children that they can do for themselves; I encourage them to learn how to work “independently”  in their chores and their schoolwork (more and more as they grow older.)   But that doesn’t mean I expect to totally give up my role as “teacher-mom”  and turn all learning over to my children.  I think there has to be a balance of independent work and facitiated learning/discusion. 

      Sometimes in our haste to make things easier for ourselves, we turn too much over to our children too soon.  To make the most of our homeschool, we need to maintain our involvement in our children’s school work.  At the least, we should introduce new concepts and discuss them; introduce new assignments, communicating to our children exactly what is expected of them; supervise/check in on our children as they work; read aloud/discuss their learning; ask them to talk to you about what they’ve learned (or narrate–either verbally or through a report), and finally, inspect (check) their work immediately upon it’s completion.  If we overlook these things, we miss out on the best parts of homeschooling and in my opinion, let our children down. 

     I must admit, I didn’t do the best job with this for my older set of children.  I was so busy with my little ones that I entrusted them with too much independence too soon.  I didn’t discern their true needs.  Be careful to find a balance in your homeschool, so that you don’t repeat my mistakes.  (Note:  Plan to sit right with your children while they are doing their assignments for the first few years.  Maturity comes before independence.)

4).  Use the most direct method available. For reading, read. For writing, write, for math, do it, and for Bible, read it. Don’t fall for catchy curriculums or methods that are really just something else for you and your child to learn. 

     See my post, “Homeschooling Early Elementary…Keep it Simple”, HERE.  

5).  Don’t worry about your child’s age or grade. Just let him do the best he can each day. Children grow intellectually like they do physically: in spurts. Although we may have an audience of skeptical relatives, homeschooling is not a circus, and we refuse to train our children to do tricks for people.

     Our goal should be to find out where our children are now, and then move them forward from there.  Slow and steady wins the race!  We tend to expect far too much of our younger children, and not nearly enough of our older children.  Instead, duing the early elementary years, back off a bit and wait for readiness.  Children in Sweeden and Switzerland don’t even start school until they are 7, and yet they outscore American children on standardized tests.  (See my tab, “Readiness”, and my archived posts on readiness as well.)

 6).  Minimize distractions in the home. Watch for excessiveness in entertainments, snacking, outings, phone conversations and the like. These sorts of things can easily get out of hand and compete with the effectiveness of a homeschool and sap the family of time and energy.

     Such distractions also get in the way of our children’s time to play,  explore their hobbies/interests, and so on.  These are vitally important to children of all ages.  Distractions eat up our own time as well; especially the time we could be spend reading the Bible,  playing games with our children, and giving them unrushed, real life experiences (cooking, nature walks, art, etc) they need.

7).  Seek quality over quantity. A few tapes of great music, a small case of carefully chosen books, a few special play mates, and an occasional outing is better than a large, but poor quality collection.

     Often we spend hundreds of dollars on these things–with the best of intentions–only to have them gathering dust on a shelf.  Start with a few of the best, and use them.  Once your children become familiar with the books and CD’s you have, you can add more.  This saves you from stress and guilt…and it saves money, too.  Sometimes I think we give ourselves so many options that we don’t know what to do; we’re like toddlers overwhelmed by a mountain of toys.  Less really can be “more.”  Believe me about this–I’ve learned it the hard way.

8).  If you must document your school activities, do it after the fact. This way you will not make promises you cannot keep. If you are required to make lesson plans, be as vague as permissible. Don’t let transcripts, diplomas, records and tests determine your academic plans. Focus on learning and the rest will follow.

     I don’t know about you, but I hate those “teacher plan” books…I dispise those empty boxes (even if I planned my day that way–i.e. alternating subjects.)  This year we’re using a simple, journal-type planner.  I added my own tabs to divide up the weeks, as well as tabs for writing down the books we read, resources we’re using, etc.

9).  Put the needs of your youngest, most vulnerable children first. If an older child gets a little behind in school, I’m sure you can forgive yourself. But if something happened to the toddler while you were busy homeschooling, I don’t think you would be able to say the same.

     Once we’ve given our youngest what they need, they will be content to let us work with our older children.  See my tab on “Routine”, and my article, “Keeping Little Ones Busy.”

10).  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul and don’t neglect to seek him early…giving him the first fruits of your day and teach your children to do the same. I know that you are tired and that there aren’t enough hours in your day, but we serve a God who can make the sun stand still.

     Examine yourself:  Do you “make the main thing (JESUS!) the main thing”  in your personal life/homeschool/family life?  Do you spend time in the Word everyday?   Does your life reflect your most important goals?  Do you live out your faith?  Does your life rotate around GOD, or your family/homeschool?  (OUCH.)   I know I have a long way to go regarding these matters…I’ve been very convicted lately about truly living out my most important goals.  

     For more about “the main thing”, see my post, “Challenge To Christian Parents.” 

     Live the 4R’s!   ~~Susan

     Info about this post:  Simplifying,”   according to my information, this was orginally posted on the RC4JC Yahoo group and is used with permission:  “Anyone can use Colette’s list of 10 things; she’d like it if they credit the e-group or her by name, but it’s otherwise free for use without any conditions.”  (If this information is incorrect, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.  I did my best to find the orginal source.)

Colette is one of the moderators of the Robinson Curriculum email group:
Robinson Users for Christ

Simplify the Curriculum © Colette Longo, used with permission.  Other portions of this post: © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Curriculum, Elementary School, Encouragement, Goals, Holiness, Homeschool, Homeschooling, Methods, Readiness, Reading Aloud, Relationships, The 4 R's, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

What Babies Really Need: Creating a Stimulating Home Environment for Babies

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on May 11, 2010


         If babies don’t need curriculum, what do they need?  Babies really need only two things:  1). Loving, responsive, and consistent care from their parents, and 2). A stimulating (or enriching) home environment.

         The most important thing babies need is their parents. No substitute caregiver or expensive “curriculum” can replace this need.  During their first year, babies are bonding with their parents, and learning that they can trust their parents to take care of them.  From this trust grows security—and security is essential for normal personality development.  

Loving care:  Babies need to know that they are loved.  We communicate our love to them in many ways; by gently caring for them, through appropriate touch, and by the tone of voice we use when we talk to them. Remember to make eye contact with your baby, and engage her in “conversations” (she makes a sound, you reply; you then wait for her to respond again.)

Responsive care:  Some developmental “experts” encourage parents to deny their instincts when it comes to their babies—even newborn babies.  They encourage parents to strictly schedule their baby’s feedings, and make them “cry it out” at night until the clock says its time for them to wake up and/or be fed.  Babies don’t function by the clock.  (Dr. Penelope Leach has made the news lately by stating that crying it out damages babies brains…it’s common sense that such a strict schedule might be emotionally damaging for babies.)  For nursing babies, it is especially dangerous (some parents have actually starved their nursing infants to death by keeping them on a strict feeding schedule….nursing is a balance between supply and demand.)  Instead, follow your heart and respond to your baby’s cries.  Remember that your baby has emotional and social needs as well as physical needs, and give your baby the time and attention he deserves by letting him be closely attached to you.   Also remember that comforting your baby and bonding with him are legitimate reasons to let him nurse, even if “he shouldn’t be hungry yet.”

        Some “experts” believe that babies can be spoiled by too much attention…especially if they are held too much.  But in my experience, babies can’t be spoiled.  In fact, by giving them the emotional attachment they need while they are small, we are giving them what they need to grow up to be independent, self-confident and secure.  Besides, studies have shown that babies who are held more cry less…and isn’t that every parent’s goal?

Consistent Care/Routines:  Too strict of a schedule is problematic not only for baby, but for you as well.  Instead of trying to adopt a strict schedule, try a simple routine.  Instead of a timed-to-the-minute schedule that can become oppressive, a routine is simply an “order of events” for the day.  It can be flexible, reflecting baby’s needs and your needs as well.  This allows us to be consistent in our care-giving, while allowing for interruptions to our routine such as illness, travel, etc. 

        Babies, like preschoolers, come to depend on that sense of what comes next.  Routines keep babies on an even keep emotionally, and helps prevent meltdowns.  (See the tab 4 R’s: Routine.)   If you really are serious about enriching baby’s development, consider planning to include some of the elements listed below under “a stimulating home environment” during your baby’s quiet and alert times.

Repetition:  Babies thrive on repetition.  They don’t need a “curriculum” full of 20 million different board books, lullabies, baby-games, nursery rhymes, etc; instead, choose a few of your favorite elements and include them, a few at a time,  every day (as part of your “stimulating home environment”.)  Remember, babies love and need repetition, so use only a few at a time.

A Stimulating Home Environment:  Babies don’t need a pre-planned curriculum to learn.  We can easily provide them with all they need.   Here are some of the most important elements:  

~Routine:  Bring baby into your daily routine, talking to her  about everything you are doing. 

~Floor time:  Babies need time on the floor every day to help them improve their muscle control  and coordination.  Try these ideas:   Place baby on his tummy near a shatter proof mirror, or place colorful toys, toys with black and white designs, or board books with pictures of faces near baby.  These encourage baby to lift his head to take a look around.  You can also try laying baby on his back underneath a mobile or baby gym. 

~Offer your baby a change of perspective:  Alternate baby between different places and types of safe environments so that she can get a new perspective on the world.  Besides the floor, try a baby swing,  bouncer seat (we used these a lot on top of the kitchen island while I was cooking),  saucer seat,  Johnny Jump-Up,  etc as is appropriate for your baby’s age and development.  Babies love being outside as well—sometimes nothing else will soothe them.  Just remember to keep your baby out of the direct sun (we trained our babies to wear hats from infancy, to protect their tender skin and eyes.)   Even providing a new quilt for baby to lie on during floor time changes baby’s view of the world. 

~Play time:  Our babies need us to play with them every day.  Traditional baby games such as Peek-a-boo, How Big is Baby?, etc are not only fun but bonding and learning experiences for babies.  For some great ideas, visit your local Gymboree class, or invest in one of these books:

 ~Reading Aloud:  Have you started reading aloud to your baby everyday?  Reading aloud is one of the most important things parents can do to help their baby learn.  Here are a few of my favorites for the first year:

~ Singing:  Do you sing to your baby?  Babies need to be sung to everyday, no matter how bad we think we sound.  Singing to babies helps them to develop their language and listening skills, musical skills, and more.  Here are some of our favorites:

  • Lullabies:  Jesus Loves Me, You are My Sunshine, Rock-a-bye Baby, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, Hush Little Baby, Brahms Lullaby, etc. 
  • Action songs and lap songs:  Wheels on the Bus (circle hands or feet), Row Your Boat (circle baby’s feet), The Noble Duke of York, Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes (touch correct body parts), and Open, Shut Them (since babies can’t open and close their hands yet, do this by spreading their arms way out, and then crossing them over their chest for “shut them”), This is the Way the Ladies Ride, and so on; and bath time songs such as “This is the Way We Wash our Hair” etc (my favorite source is Joanie Bartel’s Bathtime Magic ~~all of hers are good.  I also recomend Raffi’s Singable Songs for the Very Young.)   

Final Helps:  Here are some articles to help you become a more responsive parent to you baby:

More about Dr. Leach & crying babies (both sides of the issue) http://www.wikio.co.uk/news/Penelope+Leach

 Dr. Sear’s site on attachment parenting (remember to keep this balanced…no one can hold their baby all the time, and co-sleeping has it’s own pro’s/cons/safety issues):  http://www.askdrsears.com/html/10/T130300.asp

 You Tube Videos on Dunston’s baby language (how to understand your baby’s cries–it’s worth a try!):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6CFSGAueyo

 Dunston’s own website: http://www.dunstanbaby.com

        Remember, what your baby needs most is not some new “educational” toy or “curriculum”; your baby needs YOU.  

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Babies, Book Lists, Curriculum, Mothering, Music, Parenting, Play, Reading Aloud, Relationships, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Unit Study Planning for “Chickens” (A.K.A. a “Chicken” Unit Study)

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on May 1, 2010


        Do you have elementary school-aged children?  Do you want your curriculum to become more “literature-based”? Would you like to try the unit study method– but you’re scared to take the leap?  Then read on, because this post is just for you.

         Ever heard of a “chicken” unit study?  It isn’t a unit study about chickens…it is a unit study for chickens (those of you who can’t give up your textbooks.)  Here’s what I mean:

        If you’ve been having a hard time giving up your (boring) textbooks (chicken!), then why not turn each major chapter or topic in your children’s textbook into a mini unit study?  That way, the text book becomes a sort of “spine” or outline that leads you along.  I admit it:  One of our best year’s homeschooling ever was done this way, and I’ve been considering doing it again. 

        It really is a (nearly) perfect solution, giving your children the “best of both worlds.”  Yes, it takes longer to get through the texts this way, but your children will remember lots more—and enjoy it more, too.

        Here’s what to do:  Choose your textbooks as usual (try to choose a textbook that is as pleasant to read as possible, preferably one written in a “narrative” or “story-like” style.)  Use the index to plan your topics.  Alternate your “units” by topic or major time period and subject (i.e. do a history unit, and then a science unit).  Another option is spending half the year on history, half on science. 

        Read the textbook aloud to your kids and then, instead of written Q & A’s or tests, embellish each chapter with unit study elements:

 ~Books are the most important element to add.  You’ll want to look for fiction, non-fiction, and poetry; literature written during or about the time period you are studying (historical fiction), and/or biographies of important people who lived during the time period you are studying.  For science units, read biographies of famous naturalists, scientists and inventors, as well as fiction and non-fiction stories about animals/nature. 

        Since you are only doing science OR history in a single day, you’ll have more time to spend reading aloud.  We usually read the non-fiction books during your unit time, and then read the fiction books after lunch and/or before bed (yes, this counts as part of your school day!)

 ~Lapbooking, notebooking,scrapbooking: Look for resources to go along with each major time period or science topic, such as materials from Hold That ThoughtHands of a Child; History Pockets; Homeschool in the Woods,  etc. 

 ~Time lines: Check out the variety of ways to make and use timelines on Squidoo.     We are going to use the card file type of time line, and occasionally Mini Books.  There are lots of good ideas on Paula’s Archives, too. 

       Some people don’t believe that timelines are helpful to children until they are in the fourth grade or so, but  I disagree.  I think a simple timeline for early elementary aged children (grades 2+) can help them get a sense of “what came first” and “what came next”.  They can slowly build their timelines, and review them over the years to help them remember what they studied.  I wouldn’t worry about trying to get your children to memorize very many dates or time periods, though, until they are around Junior High age.

 ~Charlotte Mason-y elements:  Pull out copywork, vocabulary and spelling words from your literature; have your children narrate (or tell back) short sections of the literature.

 Other, optional things to add:  These things might take more work to come up with, but they sure add a lot to your units.   Don’t go overboard with these; if they seem contrived or unnatural to you, or if they take too much effort to come up with, then feel free to skip them.  Each family has to decide which of these elements are important to them.  In our family, art and music are high on the list; videos are always easy to add, via Netflix.  Field trips and experiments are easy to find for science, but harder for history.

 ~Arts and crafts: Study art from the time period you are studying (picture study); “copy” art methods (i.e. paint with dots like the impressionists, or paint upside down like Michelangelo had to do while painting the Sistine Chapel.)

~Music: Listen to music related to the theme, or written during the time period of the theme.  Study the famous composers during each major time period.

 ~Projects/activities:  This includes cooking experiences, science experiences/experiments/exploration, nature walks, mapping, dioramas/models, etc. 

~Dramatic play:  Some families really get into using dress up clothes, props, and prop boxes to to “pretend” about their unit or “reenact” history. 

 ~Videos:  Used sparingly, these can be a great supplement–especially when it comes to science (documentaries.) Warning: Watch out of evolutionary content and history that has been “re-written”.

~Field trips or virtual field trips: Icing on the cake!

        There are no required elements to this.  I like to keep things simple, so most of our embellishments would be books.  Lapbooking or notebooking would be another element I’d like to use as much as possible.  Other than that, I’d use whatever elements I could come up with!

        This is a great way to break into unit studies, while holding onto the security of textbooks.

        There’s only one thing I ask:  Do yourself and your children a favor; don’t ever use a textbook by itself! 

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Art, Curriculum, Homeschool, Music, Reading Aloud, Unit Studies | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Spring/Gardening Unit/Theme for Homepreschool/Homeschool

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on March 23, 2010


A springtime/gardening unit offers us many opportunities for learning and fun.  What fun it is to look for the first signs of spring!  This post is a mish-mash of resources for Springtime units.

Signs of Spring

Spring is a great time to teach your children to observe nature, and learn some names of common plants and animals.  Here are some of the plants and animals we commonly think of during spring:

Crocus flowers are grown from bulbs.  The Crocus is known to be one of the earliest spring bloomers–they sometimes bloom right through the snow! If you have Crocuses planted in your area, go on a nature walk and take a look at them; if you don’t, at least show your children the pictures.

Another plant we identify with spring is the Daffodil.   It’s fun to make your own Daffodil craft by drawing a long green stem on a light-colored sheet of paper.  Next, cut out (or help your child cut) 2-3 inch long, fat triangular-like petal shapes (they can be yellow or white.)  Arrange the petal shapes to make a flower, and then glue a yellow or white mini cupcake liner on top to make a daffodil.

Pussywillows, like Crocuses, are plants we traditionally look for in spring.  Ideas:

Read the book, Pussywillow by Margaret Wise Brown (a Little Golden Book.)   If Pussywillows don’t grow in your area, visit your local florist shop and see if you can purchase a few cut branches.  They make a beautiful display…and children love to touch their velvety-soft buds…be sure to let them!  Next, try your hand at some Pussywillow art.  Click HERE for a site that has several different craft/painting ideas, and some flower crafts, too.

Spring growth:  Other signs of spring we look forward to are new green grass, budding/blossoming trees, and wildflowers.  See if your area has a wildflower or tree blossom trails like ours (Bakersfield, CA Wildflowers; Fresno, CA Blossom Trail).   If so, try not to miss them! Idea:  Bring some “spring” inside by clipping a branch from a tree that is blooming (or about to bloom), and putting it in a vase.  At the very least, go for a nature walk in a nearby park and look for signs of spring growth (etc.)  Fresh cut flowers from your own yard are always enjoyable.  If you are really ambitious, you could try your hand at forcing some bulbs.

Spring Poem:  I looked out-side and what did I see?  Popcorn popping on the apricot tree!  (Author unknown.) For more spring poems, click HERE.

Art ideas: 

– Have your child draw a “tree trunk” onto light-colored construction paper (or draw it for them.)  Pop popcorn and glue it on the branches for “blossoms.”

-Paint with branches, OR paint flowers and then use them to make prints.

-Collage with seeds (be sure to use only edible seeds such as lentils, beans, etc, in case your children try to eat them.)

 Activities:  

– Purchase a variety of different seeds. Look at them, and compare (try to have a varity of types and sizes, such as avacado seeds, bean seeds, corn, sunflower, mustard seeds (or other very tiny seeds.)

-In a mason jar, sprout the avacado seed; in another, sprout the beans (put dampened paper towels in a mason jar; place beans right next to the glass. Place them in a summy window, and then watch them sprout.)  Watch and compare. Experiment: What happens to the seeds without light or water?

-Plant some of your seeds in peat pots or starter trays (available at home and garden stores), or sow them directly in the ground.

-Learn about trees. Is your area known for certain types of trees? If so, make sure your child can recognize them.  Take a nature walk and look for signs of spring.

Books to read:  The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree, by Gail Gibbons; The Apple Pie Tree, by Zoe Hall; A Tree is a Plant (a Let’s Read-and Find-Out Book), by Bulla; How a Plant Grows, by Bobbie Kalman (beautiful pictures); A Tree is Nice, by  Janice May Udry (this one’s considered a preschool classic);  Planting a Rainbow, by Lois Ehlert;  Jack’s Garden, by Henry Cole;  The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Kraus (another classic; great for younger preschoolers); The Sunflower House, by Eve Bunting (you can look for grown-up books about sunflower houses, too, and some for kids AND grown-ups.)

Vocabulary: Bud, blossom, fruit, shoot, root, seed, and so on.

Animals and Spring

Robins are considered to be signs of spring.  Watch for the return of Robins and other birds.  A good book to read about robins is A Nest Full of Eggs, by Priscilla Belz Jenkins.

Make a paper bird:  Enlarge any one of these bird patterns and copy onto heavy paper.  Let your child paint the bird with water colors, and let dry.  Glue wings on to complete the bird.  Click HERE for an alternate pattern.

For a craft activity, consider making/setting up a bird feeder, bird house or bird bath to attract birds to your yard.  Here are a variety of bird/bird feeder craft ideas: http://kidsactivities.suite101.com/article.cfm/easy_bird_feeders_for_kids

http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/birdfeedershousesperchescraftsmakingartscraftsideaskids.html

For the ambitious:  See if anyone you know has an incubator you can borrow and hatch some chicken eggs.

Other books about birds:

An Egg is Quiet, by Dianna Aston Book, by Jane Werner Watson (Out of Print)

Birds:  A Child’s First Book About Our Most familiar Birds, a Big Golden Book, by Jane Werner Watson

What Makes a Bird?, by May Garelick (may be out of print)

It’s Nesting Time, (an older Let’s Read and Find Out book) by Roma Gans (out of print)

 Baby Animals:  Many animals have their babies during spring.  This is a perfect time to learn about baby animals and their special names.  If you can, visit a petting zoo, zoo, or nearby farm to observe baby animals.  Books to read:

Baby Animals (a Little Golden Book), by Garth Williams

Baby Animals, by Harry McNaught

Kitten, The Little Rabbit, and others by Judy Dunn.

You can find other books about Spring, plants, baby animals and more in the series, Books for Young Explorers, from National Geographic (one of my favorite science series for ages 4-9; beautiful photos.)

 General Books About Spring/Seasons:

What Happens in the Spring, a National Geographic book Young Explorers, by Kathleen Costello Beer.

How Do You Know It’s Spring, a Rookie Read-About Science Book, by Allan Fowler (ages 2-6.)

Over and Over, by Charlotte Zontolow (contains references to Halloween, but they are easily skipped.)

Other related/possible units:  Bunnies, Plants and Trees, Gardening, Weather, Insects and more!

Have fun!

Note:  I can only recomend the pages I link to, not the entire content of each site.   Further note:  Many of the books I recomend are out of print.  But thanks to Amazon, it’s no problem!  (I am not an Amazon Affliate; I don’t get any money if you purchase any of the books.  They are simply books I’ve enjoyed with my children.)

This post contains excerpts from the book,Homepreschool and Beyond”; used with permission.  © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Art, Book Lists, Crafts, Curriculum, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Nature Study, Reading Aloud, Unit Studies | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

List of Classic Preschool Picture Books

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on March 6, 2010


          Books! Books contain the throb of human life; the magic entrances, fascinates, sets alight imagination, opens doors of interest and curiosity, informs, and triggers questioning.  Restless bodies become still and concentrated-thinking is encouraged.  Reading out loud together fosters warm ties in human relationships.  The experience is shared, and then interesting and meaningful conversation ensues.  Developing the ability and desire to pursue reading is education.  

 -Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, in the introduction to Books Children Love: A Guide to the Best Children’s Literature, by Elizabeth Wilson

          

          Following are some excerpts from the chapter “Book Lists: Preschool Through Grade School”, in my book, Homepreschool and Beyond.  Bear in mind that this is only a small excerpt; pages 81-101 in my book are devoted my book list, which is categorized by topic. 

          These are all books I used with my own children.  I try to avoid titles that include witches, ghosts, references to Halloween, evolution, etc.  If a title I include in my list has any questionable content, I try to warn you so that you can decide if the title is redeemable with some editing, or if you should skip it altogether (only a very small percentage of the books I list would fall into that category.)

  Favorite Authors and Illustrators  

 A Hole is to Dig and others by Ruth Kruass

Angus Lost, Angus and the Cat, Angus and the Ducks, Ask Mr. Bear, The Story About Ping, and others by Marjorie Flack

Animals of Farmer Jones, The, Pig Will and Pig Won’t, and others written and/or illustrated by Richard Scarry

Bedtime for Frances, Bread and Jam for Frances, (part of a series of Francis books), by Russell Hoban  4+ (note:  Frances struggles to stay in bed at night, but finally learns self-control after threatened with a spanking–so real to life–hilarious.)

Biggest House in the World, Fish is Fish, Swimmy, and many others by Leo Lionni

Beady Bear, Corduroy, A Pocket for Corduroy, Dandelion and others by Dan Freeman  2+

Curious George (part of a series of “Curious George” books), by Hans A Rey

Donkey-Donkey, and others by Roger Duvoisin  (I just found out this wonderful book is back in print!  Snap it up while you can!  Donkey Donkey doesn’t like his long ears, so the other animals in the barnyard encourage him to “wear” his ears the same way they do:  Dog says to wear them down; Sheep suggests wearing them the side; Pig says wear them over his eyes, etc.  As you can imagine, his ears get him into a lot of trouble until he realizes that he is a donkey, and should wear his ears as donkeys do.  A great lesson in accepting ourselves for what we are/self-esteem (but not preachy.)

Goodnight Moon, Home for A Bunny, Little Fur Family, The Big Red Barn, The Runaway Bunny and others by Margaret Wise Brown  2+

Harry and the Lady Next Door, Harry by the Sea, Harry the Dirty Dog, No Roses For Harry, and others by Gene Zion   I think these are probably my all time favorites.  Don’t miss them!

Katy and the Big Snow, Little House, The; Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, and others by Virgina Lee Burton   ~Others that are too good to be missed!

Make Way for Ducklings, Blueberries for Sal, and others by Robert McCloskey

Tale of Peter Rabbit, The and others by Beatrix Potter

Very Hungary Caterpillar, The; Ten Little Rubber Ducks, Grouchy Ladybug, The; Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me, and MANY others by Eric Carle

 Harder to Find/Out of Print  (OOP) Books That Are Worth Looking For:

Christian Mother Goose, volumes I and II, by Marjorie Ainsborough Decker

Dog Who Had Kittens, The, by Polly M. Robertus

Part Time Dog, by Jane Thayer

Ten In the Bed, by Penny Dale  (OOP-a Discovery Toy’s book)

Who Wants Arthur? by Amanda Graham  (OOP-a Discovery Toy’s book)

Wonderful Shrinking Shirt, The, Leone Castell Anderson*  (OOP)

This post contains excerpts from the book,Homepreschool and Beyond”; used with permission.

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Book Lists, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Picture Books, Reading Aloud, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »