Doing More With Less Since 1972

Tag: reviews

A Thanksgiving Book We’re Enjoying – Review

We tried to check “Thanks for Thanksgiving” out at our local libraries last week, but it was already checked out at every branch. But at $6.99, that’s not a bad price on Amazon. Plus, if you weren’t aware, parents get a free membership to Amazon Prime called Amazon Mom (dads and caregivers are eligible too).

“Thanks for Thanksgiving” is a really well illustrated book for smaller kids–lots going on in the pictures and filled with images of fall. The book doesn’t deal with the history or Thanksgiving or anything like that, but instead focuses on all the things to be thankful for–friends, family, school, slides, leaves, etc.

We really wish we’d bought it earlier since it references lots of aspects of Fall, making it a great book to supplement the Autumn theme our homeschool co-op has been doing for the past few weeks.

Delicious Link Dump– December 28th through December 29th

The 30 Freakiest Commercials of 2009 – I love commercials, and not just because they make LOST free for me to watch.

Star Wars/A-Team intro mashup – Seriously? It took us until late 2009 for someone to make this happen? Where is your creativity people?

E-Books Beat Regular Books – December 25, 2009 is the day we turned the corner in publishing. Publishers probably thought it would never happen. If only there’s been some sort of warning…maybe if it had happened in other industries (music, movies, newspapers) they could have been better prepared.

Into the Wild – I read it over the weekend. I haven’t seen a movie for…ever, and the guy who was telling me about the movie gave me the book as a gift. I can’t really say that I like Christopher McCandless as portrayed in the book, but I think that was done on purpose. I can relate to him in some ways though. We’re pretty much the same age, and I know a lot of guys who have some of the same character traits as him. I think it was pretty common for young men from our generation to be a little angry about not having much to be angry about. But I think if this guy had played rugby he’d still be alive today. If you play(ed) rugby, you probably understand why. If you don’t, it’s not something I can really explain to you.

The Sexiest Magazine Covers of 2009 – I wasn’t aware that any magazines were still being printed. Thankfully, there are web sites out there to filter through them and find the things I need.

Happiest States Revealed by New Research – Climbing the ranks in best cities to live in and happiest states to live in as well. Soon, we’ll reach residential nirvana. As soon as we have a house.

Thank you, Janet. – She should get dressed up in a flight suit and have her photo taken in front of a banner reading “The system worked” on an aircraft carrier. Now, watch this drive.

The Latin Baby Book Club Is Here!

Thanks to The Hen over at Bilingual in the Boonies for the heads up on the launching of the new site Latin Baby Book Club.

I’m really excited about this new resource because it allows parents to find new books and music in Spanish for their kids. This site will serve as a great place to learn about latin children’s literature and culture for anyone interested in sharing a new language with their kids. As a bilingual homeschooling mom that’s trying to raise a bilingual family, I can’t begin tell you how helpful this will be! Okay, maybe I’ll try.

I’m always looking for new Spanish books and songs to read and sing with Chick Pea, but I’m so limited on local selection that I have to focus most of my efforts online. Then there’s the problem of time…I just don’t have enough of it to sift through countless sites to find quality bilingual literature and information to use at home. Enter The Latin Baby Book Club!

These wonderful ladies do all of the work for me! They feature great book reviews, author interviews, songs, tips for early readers, bilingual mom tales, and more. Be sure to check them out!

5 Questions To Ask Before Buying Homeschool Curriculum

A new school year means a new curriculum for many families. Whether you are just starting out or you’ve decided to try something new, there’s a ton of curricula to choose from. Although I have my favorites, I don’t like to recommend any particular curriculum to anyone because families and children are so different. What works great for one family (or child) might not for another, so it’s really important that you take your time choosing the one that’s best for you and your kids.

So how do you decide? You can start by asking yourself the following questions about the curriculum you are considering for reading instruction (although these could be used for any subject). I’ve put them in order of importance for me…which of course may be different for you!

  1. Does it fit my child’s learning style? As the learner, your child’s learning styles and preferences should play a major role in deciding what type of curriculum you should buy. Is she more hands on or does she enjoy listening to and discussing stories? Does she do well learning with technology or does she prefer more traditional approaches? Look for a curriculum that uses methods that work best for her.
  2. Does it fit my teaching style? Although your child’s learning style is a really important deciding factor, you are the teacher and therefore must be comfortable in how you teach the material! Do you like to have things laid out for you in a very structured way (day by day plans, lesson procedures, suggested/provided materials, etc.) or are you more interested in having freedom to choose the what, how, and when of it all? You might even fall somewhere in between – check out question # 5.
  3. Are the instructional methods solid? By this I mean…Is it a trusted curriculum that has shown good results for many kids? Is it based on reading research? Is it thorough or does it just skim the surface of what you want to teach? Try to do your own research by visiting curriculum fairs, talking to other parents, and reading reviews online (on sites other than the publishers’!).
  4. Is it fun and engaging? This is huge! This is where schools sometimes have an advantage…there are many fun things a teacher can do with a class of students that parents may not be able to do to at home to keep interest high. So it’s really important that you find something that is fun and keeps your child’s attention. Try to look for curriculum or methods that include things your child loves to learn about. It’s so important for kids to have fun reading!
  5. Does it allow for flexibility? If you home school, then you know this is a must! Flexibility allows you to change, add, or leave out certain things from your instruction. Some programs only work well if they are followed as is, so you may not see the best results if you decided to tweak it. Just make sure you chose something that lets you have some wiggle room if you need it.

Starting a new curriculum can be very exciting for parents and kids, so have fun with it! Check out what these homeschoolers have to say about it:

A to Z Home’s Cool has some great resources put together to help you avoid wasting money.

Home School Curriculum has descriptions of curricula along with comments and input from parents about each one.

PEAH shares great resources to help you save money and keep you updated on the happenings in the world of homeschool curriculum.

Have a great year!

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Book Review — Make Van Gogh’s Bed

Touch Classic Art

Touch Classic Art

Chick Pea and I took a trip to our local art museum yesterday (we love free admission on Tuesdays) and I found this great touch book of Impressionist art by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo. It features classic paintings with textures for kids to touch and feel as they explore the pages. What a wonderful way to expose your child to art and reading at the same time! Of course, with paintings by Van Gogh, Renoit, Monet, and others, this book is visually stimulating for children and adults alike. But it goes further by including the touch sensory as well, allowing your child to actually “feel” a part of each of the paintings.

The featured paintings also tell the story of a day at the beach, starting with Van Gogh’s Bedroom at Arles and ending with his Starry Night. Each painting is accompanied by a short poem that describes the painting and tells a part of the story. The ArtiFacts section (clever) at the end of the book also features more information on each painting featured in the book for parents. If Impressionism isn’t your thing, there are also three other books in the Touch the Art series–Brush Mona Lisa’s Hair, Feed Matisse’s Fish, and Pop Warhol’s Top.

We are lucky to have an excellent used book store in our town, so we seldom buy new books or pay full price, but these will be hard to find used, and they were so nice I could not pass them up.

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