Sunday, August 30, 2009

Myths & Legends Picture Books

We are going to be covering Ancient History this year at both a 1st grade and 5th grade level, so I've been looking for picture books of myths and legends to compliment the history readings, and found some beautiful ones at our library. So far we've found:

becoming an independent reader

I realized that I haven't posted about books in a while, and have gotten sidetracked with summer travels, gardening and daily life. But I did originally intend to blog about books and homeschooling, as much for my own records as to share with the three or so other people who may occasionally see this blog.

I've just added a sidebar entitled "Favorite Books for Youngish Boys". These are books that I think are really wonderful for a younger, male independent reader. I wanted to clarify that I'm not suggesting that these books are exclusively appropriate for boys, or that they do not work well as read alouds for younger children or might not capture an older reader. I just know that these were very popular around here with my child when he first came in to his own as a reader, around the age of 7 or 8.

At the time, I searched for books that were well written, appealing to a young boy, and would be challenging but not so hard as to be discouraging. Recommended by a very wise homeschooling mom I know, the Dick King-Smith books were a great transition to chapter books for my son. And while I was initially hesitant about graphic novels (or comic books as we used to call them), my sons have loved Tintin and the Asterix series, and I'm very comfortable with the content.

Since I've got another boy coming up on this age, I want to remember our favorites and I hope to continue adding to the list.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

a museum after their own heart

While I'd like to think that I'm trying to raise Renaissance young men, with varied interests from mountain biking to Monet, truth be told my guys are more than a little reluctant to go to an art museum. Try as I might, they seem to lack the attention span and appreciation for a fine art museum. I'll keep working on them, but I also recognize that I need to meet them half way sometimes.

I had decided that we would do a "soft" start to school this week, just kicking off the new school year with some field trips. We found the first week of public school perfect for this. It's too early for the schools to start field trips, so the museums were quiet and empty. Our first museum was a little too empty. The main gallery area was closed for another week as they set up for a new exhibit. It worked out great though, in that they got to see a copy of the Gutenberg bible and the first photograph in the lobby, here. It was probably just the right length of time for them.

We hit a home run on our second day. One of my children had gone briefly to our local Texas Military Forces Museum at Camp Mabry with his camp group this summer. When I mentioned that we'd spend a week trying to go to museums, this was his one request. It would have never made it on my radar, but I can now recommend it heartily. Thanks to the great docents, who obviously are well-versed and passionate about military history, the boys heard a lot about different battles ranging from the fight for Texas independence to World War II. Even though the museum is undergoing renovations, the docents, dioramas, and memorabilia make it well worth the trip. The boys especially liked the section where you could try on gear:

They can't wait to go back with their PawPaw, and their Poppy, who loves a good diorama. And I can go to the art museum while they're busy with the guns and battles.

my child, really??

Me: Thanks for getting the mail. Would you like one of the double chocolate chip cookies for a snack?
Child: Can I have a yogurt instead?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

summer comfort food

It is still full blown summer here in Texas. And there's no sign of waning heat yet. Even though we like to pretend it's fall, what with public schools starting back, pools closing and the calendar about to flip to September, those of us in Texas know better. The website of the local paper says it's 98 outside today, but feels like 106.

What with the heat, I've been boycotting the kitchen for the most part all summer. I know I should just stick with menus of salad, yogurt and fruit, and anything that can be made without creating heat. It's daunting to turn on the oven in this kind of weather.

But last night I couldn't help myself. I had tried a couple of recipes for sweet potato biscuits last week when we had company over. Both recipes were very tasty, and I found myself with leftover sweet potatoes, and a craving for biscuits. I followed this recipe except I used buttermilk. They did not get big and fluffy, but they are delicious. Sometimes, even in the heat of summer, you just have to bake, in order to have things like fresh biscuits and chocolate chip cookies.

I love to bake, so now I'm just waiting for cooler weather, say in the lower 90s, to really get going. I can't wait for fall.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Regaining our rhythm

We are slowly regaining our rhythm and righting ourselves after a fairly hectic summer.

Except for the couple of weeks of vacation, the boys have spent most of the summer in camp at our favorite Parks and Rec center. I'm so grateful that they have a place to go where they feel safe and comfortable, and are kept busy and active through summer heat that wears me down. I would be totally daunted at the prospect of hiking 8 miles with twelve 5-7-year-olds in 95 degree plus weather, or casting off with a ton of kids in 25 or so canoes and kayaks. But the mainly college age staff is intrepid, and have given my kids summer adventures that I would never have been up for in this heat. It also gives my boys a small dose of some of the social aspects that they would encounter if they were enrolled in school. This has been both good and bad at times, but on the whole I think the exposure is great for them.

Now we are taking a couple of weeks to remember how to just be before starting up formally with school. We are finding it a bit challenging to move from the hectic pace of summer and more relaxed rules on screen time and bedtimes back to our more structured school year schedule. The first couple of days out of camp the boys struggled to figure out what to do. It is slowly coming back to them. Lego battles have ensued, a little bit of backyard baseball has taken place, and the older child has remembered all the wonderful books around him, and rekindled his affection for lazy days reading on the couch. Now if the heat will just subside, it will feel more like fall and we can all fall back into the autumn patterns I love so much.

This week we have worked on improving our learning space. We'll continue with that next week, and indulge in a week o' field trips before formally buckling down.

I can't wait.