Friday, October 29, 2010

FIAR The Glorious Flight

I was not familiar with Alice and Martin Provensen before reading The Glorious Flight which is covered in Five in a Row Vol. 1. After this week, I will be looking to add some more of their books to our home library! W enjoyed The Glorious Flight, and it was a perfect book for FIAR since it has many different elements and you could really go in any direction with this one. First of all, for geography we covered England, France, and the English Channel. We also talked more about French culture and language which we had previously talked about when reading Madeline for FIAR. Other topics which applied to the book included art, language arts, history, inventors, the science behind flying and of course early aviation. Another great book about aviation is The Little Airplane by Lois Lenski, which is very descriptive of the mechanics of the airplane. Today to finish off the week we made paper airplanes and tried flying them outside. (Most of them were a little top heavy thanks to taped-on "propellers").

W finished the first book of Handwriting Without Tears "Letters and Numbers for Me" and was very enthusiastic about singing the song featured at the end of the book. He is on chapter 13 for Math-U-See (Addition Plus One) and I love watching that little light bulb go off as he figures out the problems. On Thursday we spent the day in Hudson with Aunt Julie, and then met with friends for the annual downtown trick or treat. It was such fun! Needless to say W didn't get much workbook work done that day, but we had a great time with his best friends from Hudson (A & his little sister C and their mommy). We will do a separate Halloween post (or re-cap post) in the next few of days.

I couldn't resist introducing W to the episode of one of my favorite television shows of all time Road to Avonlea entitled "Dreamer of Dreams" (Season 2), when Jasper Dale tries to invent a flying machine. Image courtesy of The Magic Lantern Road to Avonlea Epiosode Guide. W loves the kid scenes in Avonlea but doesn't quite know what to make of Mrs. Potts yet. But really, does anyone? :)

Early in the week, our picture books by post swap book arrived! Thanks to Zoe & her kids at Playing by the Book. W was thrilled to have a package to open and inside was Wendel's Workshop by Chris Riddell. It is a hilarious book to read aloud and also inspired W to learn more about inventors and robots. Thank you so much to our book swap partners!! W has read it dozens of times already. Your book is currently en route but I will let the title be a surprise when you receive it.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

FIAR: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

Last week for Five in a Row W read Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton. The book follows Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel Mary Anne during the time when steam shovels were being phased out by modern technologies, but in the end there is a good use for her. It has some repetition throughout, but also has some challenging words for beginning readers. This was one book that he was already familiar with but he is still enjoying it and thinking about it in depth. Also he can read it on his own now, so we alternated reading throughout the week.

On Monday W made composite characters using paper plates, he drew faces, and then he thought of two people he knows and what those people like to do, and made up a new name for his character. The one he based on me and the cat was Ludwiga who likes to cook and play with mice (eeew!) He also made up Tree who likes to play with their cat and give hugs based on two of his aunties, and Cada who likes to work on the sledding hill and play with masks. Anyway, I think he got the general idea of the term so when he hears it again he might remember it. ;)

For Math-U-See W finished chapter 12, and is grasping the concepts of addition. Each addition problem has a few different steps: identify the number, find the unit block for that number, write the number, color in the blocks on the paper to match with the unit block, and finally say the number. Sometimes the numbers wind up written backwards but for Kindergarten that is what happens. This makes for some very colorful papers! C even joins in the fun sometimes although I try to keep him interested in his own papers to color while W is trying to figure out problems.

Last week we also participated in a Paranormal "Ghost Hunter" Hike through one of the homeschool groups, it was a lot of fun and we found a nearby place to go hiking.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Little Men Namesake

   When we started the blog, I didn't go into much detail into the name choice. Our blog was named "Little Men" not just since we call our boys that sometimes, but also as a shout out to one of the lesser known books by the esteemed author Louisa May Alcott. She is famous for Little Women, but the sequels to the classic novel are usually not remembered. Good Wives is often seen as part two of the book and has been thus included in most publications. Little Men and Jo's Boys and How They Turned Out followed many of the lives of  the original characters from Little Women, and of course added new characters for the school for boys that Jo March Bhaer started up with her husband.

The books are available free online or cheaply on Kindle, and are a wonderful peek into a world long past. Children's literature was not LMA's favorite thing to write, but it gave her success and became what she was known for. If you are ever in Massachusetts, a visit to Orchard House and a jaunt over to Walden Pond to follow in the footsteps of Henry David Thoreau makes for a lovely literary day trip. When W gets a little older I will take him back, since the only other time he was at Orchard House he was in utero. :) The books will make for good family read alouds in the future.

I have a soft spot for Victorian literature, much of it is still relevant today in many ways and many of the gems of the past are just waiting to be enjoyed. The picture is courtesy of the Celebration of Women Writers web site which is a wonderful resource. There are lots of books available online that otherwise are difficult to find copies of, and extensive links to background information; a treasure trove for bookworms, history-philes, and homeschoolers.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

FIAR book review: The Rag Coat

Last week we rowed The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills. The book deals with the concepts of loss, grieving,  friendship and acceptance. It is set in the Appalachian region although there is no specific state or town mentioned, so besides giving an overview of where the Appalachian Mountains are located, W wasn't too interested in the geography parts of our FIAR. As a science component he learned about coal, how it forms under the earth, and mining, and especially due to a news story about mining W appreciated how difficult that job is, and exclaimed he didn't think he would want to do that when he grows up. We were thrilled for the miners in Chile as they were rescued last week.

We listened to a lot of Bluegrass music, including Dolly Parton's touching song "Coat of Many Colors", which the book was partially based on. I think Dolly has even written a similar book based on her song. As a bluegrass fan myself, we do listen to it a lot anyway. :) Another appropriate song for the week was Brad Paisley's "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive" which is about working in the mines in Kentucky.

W's favorite activity of the week was making a collage out of fabric bits he cut into a rag coat. The template he used was from the Aussie Pumpkin Patch blog's Free Lapbook printable. We also found another book set in the Appalachians at the library, When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant, which could have been a great book to row (I am going to keep that in mind for the future). W enjoyed learning about the johnny-house, and I think he is thankful we have modern day plumbing. He watched the pilot for Christy, which is probably more interesting to older kids (and adults, I enjoyed it more now than I did when I was growing up), as is the book of the same name by Catherine Marshall that the series is based on. The television show is beautifully shot and gives viewers an idea of the realities of poverty in the Appalachian region in the early 20th century.

For Math-U-See W is starting addition, which he has already been able to do in simple verbal problems for a while and loves it, and seems to be enjoying writing a bit more. He has been asking to do more with it lately so that is encouraging to me. Over the weekend we went to our local library booksale and found some great children's books (score!), and checked out the annual Pumpkin Festival in Keene, but that deserves it's own post.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Toddler Speak

In the past couple of weeks, I have noticed C using new words each day. Sometimes it surprises me. Last week before our pumpkin painting party, we had the pumpkins lined up on the rail of the deck, and all of a sudden he pointed and said "pumpkins!" Well, it didn't sound perfect, more like "punkins" but I knew that is what he meant so it sounded clear to me. He also loves pointing out hats now, since he has a hat to go along with his Halloween costume. I absolutely love this age. Being the youngest, C didn't really need to speak much since his older brother does a lot of that for him ;) and we hadn't focused on baby signs beyond milk/nurse, all done, and more, but it is nice to know he is progressing. We still don't understand most of his babbles but I am not worrying, he definitely knows what is going on.

One of my big worries with homeschooling was how to keep the little one busy while the big one does his lessons. Gradually, we are getting in the swing of it and trying to keep C busy, but often crayons and paper or playing with his trains can keep him happy while W works. Another biggie is to keep the snacks rolling; grapes and pretzels can be very entertaining. C wants to be involved in what we are doing, and he can, just on his own level. He will have the benefit of going through Kindergarten. Twice. :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Apple Pie!

Last weekend we went apple and pumpkin picking at a local orchard. This week for Five in a Row we are reading How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman. So of course the first thing we did Monday was make an apple pie following the recipe in the book using our freshly picked apples. The pie was delicious and W enjoys helping (his favorite thing was the egg wash on top of the crust). The pie did not last long enough to get a photo. We may make another for the weekend, and will still have many apples leftover for a big batch of applesauce. Next week we will be hosting a pumpkin painting party for a local homeschooling group so we will decorate the pumpkins the boys picked out.

In the book, many countries are visited while the girl gathers ingredients for apple pie (semolina wheat from Italy, a chicken to lay an egg from France, Cinnamon from Sri Lanka, and apples from Vermont to name a few). It reminded me a lot of Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle, which our family is very familiar with. Since we already read Madeline for FIAR, W recognized the Eiffel Tower from the artwork in the book. We had fun playing around with Google Earth "flying" from one country to another as well.

Today the sun has finally come back. We had several rainy days in a row, so it is nice to be able to play outside more finally! W helped me gather some of the many acorns that are covering our front yard to use for decorating. I also finished painting the bookcase we got at the Mill Store to put in our loft as a library/ homeschool center. I added adhesive chalkboard to the inside of the cabinet doors for the bottom part, so I will take photos once it is up.