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Posts Tagged ‘books’

  1. These Are A Few Of Our Favorite Reads

    May 1, 2015 by admin

    We love to read. And we love to read out loud to Bluey. Our evening culminates in reading before bed. And our day begins with reading while snuggled up on the couch.

    Bluey and TRMom have two favorite new series that we think you may like check out, too!

    IMG_3026Violet Mackerel is a series written by Anna Branford that follows an independent, quirky, and insightful young girl as she reacts to the world around her. The writer manages to capture the subtle genius of childhood thoughts and is never condescending towards her young characters. You can’t help but fall in love with Violet as she defends trees or attempts to save money to purchase a treasure.   The books are perfect for reading out loud to your youngster.

    Mighty Monty is another series but this one is written by Johanna Hurwitz. The books follow a young boy with asthma who is timid, intelligent, and thoughtful. His many adventures will have you cheering him on and wanting more. The writer’s style is simplistic without being patronizing to her young readers or exascerbating to read aloud for a parent.  Ms. Hurwitz also writes the Riverside Kids series, and we really enjoyed Super-Teddy which was our introduction to that series.IMG_3027

    What are your favorite books of late?

  2. Animals In Winter

    January 23, 2015 by admin

    IMG_2739 We don’t let winter keep this TR family indoors.  There are many great, fun things to do outside during the winter: sledding, building snow forts, conducting science experiments, and more!

    A fun adventure we enjoy is to go on a winter hike.  Hiking in the winter is a different experience than going during a warmer season.  For one thing, you have to dress right.

    You might think there are fewer animals to see in winter.  A lot are hibernating and many others migrate.  There aren’t a ton of critters left to observe, right?

    Wrong.  A lot of Animals are still out and about during the winter months, even in the most extreme weather.  You just have to know what to look for.

    IMG_2748We are reminded of one of our favorite illustrated books on this topic: Animals In Winter, by Henrietta Bancroft, Richard G. Van Gelder and Gaetano di Palma.  We’ve been reading this book to our kiddos since they were tiny tots.  The poetic writing and space pen-and-ink drawings beautifully capture the wonder of the wilds in winter.  Our family learned from the start that animals are up to all sorts of activity during the winter.

    We took this knowledge with us on a recent walk at the Waubesa Wetlands State Natural Area.  Bluey had been learning about foxes and wanted to try to see some in the wild.  Using this as our motivation, we headed out to a likely habitat.

    IMG_2737Tip: Be prepared when heading out for a inter hike.  Parks and natural areas are sparsely attended in the thick of winter.  Dress warmly, and be careful not to overestimate how far your group can hike.  Remember you have to be able to make it back to the car.  Bring a cell phone.

    Immediately upon stepping out of the car we found a trail of canine footprints that were too large to be a fox.  We guessed they were coyotes which we also knew to frequent that area.  Undeterred in our desire to explore, we followed the coyote pack’s prints through the fresh snow and saw where their path crossed those of squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks and deer.IMG_2735

    And it’s not just mammal prints we found.  We saw hawk footprints near a deer carcass, including a great imprint of the bird’s tail feathers as it crouched in the snow.  We’d never seen that before!

    IMG_2736As beautiful as this natural area is, we would never be able to have this adventure if not for the recent snow and cold temperatures.  We were able to enjoy a beautiful hike, see some amazing signs of animal life, and engage in a meaningful discussion about our local wildlife and what these animals might be up to in the winter.

    To top off our discussion of animals that migrate, hibernate or stick around in winter, a large group of Canada Geese passed over us on their migration route as we headed back to our car.

  3. The Joy of Listening

    November 2, 2014 by admin

    IMG_8618_2Our Bluey adores audiobooks.  He has a solid collection of classics, modern fiction, history, and poetry on tape.  Most of these we’ve picked up at book sales and garage sales.  As his interest in audiobooks has grown, we keep an eye out for new stock when we are out and about.

    We’ve managed to find for Bluey books that he knows well- like several of the Ramona (by Beverly Cleary) series as well as new discoveries- like a reading of American history that he really enjoys.  (As libraries shift to digital content for audio books, many are shedding their collection of cassette books.  So keep your eye out for these sales!)

    Having books on tape allows Bluey to have further control over what books he’s experiencing at any given point.   It gives him a chance to relisten to his favorite parts as often as he likes.  And his audio books give him the opportunity to hear a different voice from his parents- a voice that might pronounce some words differently, or add emphasis in unexpected places.

    Bluey’s tapes on foreign languages help prepare him for using more advanced self-study tools including mp3s and podcasts.  And hearing a language spoken out loud is an essential part in mastering it.

    Bluey usually plays his tapes on a very old, very beat up Fisher-Price tape recorder.  It still works perfectly and has been handed down from his oldest sister.  The cassette player allows Bluey to transport his books with him from room to room, or even into the car.IMG_8619

    The discovery and now love of cassette tapes also has allowed Bluey to explore new technologies.  He’s learned to work the tape deck on the stereo system we have in our playroom.  He’s learned to how to rewind tapes that get spun out of the cassette, and the related importance of not getting the tapes tangled.

    Best of all, audiobooks are helping move our Bluey along on the path to becoming a full-on, independent reader.  As he fine tunes his notions of when and where he reads, and chooses the book he’s most interested in at that moment, Bluey carves his own path in literacy.

  4. Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

    October 15, 2014 by admin

    IMG_2165Ja, ein bisschen!

    One of our longest running homeschool topics is German.  We’ve been learning German at home since Bluey was born.

    When he was an infant, TRDad and Bluey would listen to German podcasts each morning.   Since that time, our lessons have grown more advanced. Now our foreign language curriculum includes not only podcasts, but a German song playlist on our iTunes, a collection of cassette tapes and a daily reading from one of our many German textbooks.

    All this while no one in the house claims any solid German fluency!

    TRDad took some German in High School and college, but never enrolled in any advanced classes.  The main thing that stuck with him was a love of the language and pronunciation skills.  So knowing that he has a pretty good idea of how to pronounce any German words we might encounter, we just plunged into German instruction at home.

    IMG_2166Our books and tapes are all garage sale and book sale finds- so our entire shelf of German language materials cost less than $10.  Our collection runs the gamut from 1950’s era classroom texts, to hip books for modern travelers to tapes geared for young kids.  We are able to mix up our instruction and keep it interesting.

    It has gone pretty good so far.  Bluey’s ability to repeat German words and phrases is improving, as is his ability to recognize the language- even when he hears it out of context.   And not for nothing- TRDad’s German vocabulary is increasing steadily as well!

    Someday we may travel to Germany as a family.  Or Bluey may travel there himself when he’s older.  Or maybe not.  Until then, we love the influence foreign language study has had on our youngest’s mind- helping him see connections between words and languages that he might not notice otherwise.

    Auf Wiedersehen!

  5. Lake Mills

    October 3, 2014 by admin

    IMG_7974We recently headed out to a nearby city’s library book sale. It was a beautiful Fall day and even though we had never been to the city of Lake Mills, the idea of an exploration along a country road was enticing enough for this TRFamily.

    Tip: Why not slow down and explore that place you always just drive through on your way to somewhere else.

    IMG_7990The library is an impressive stone building that was constructed in the late 19th century. It is situated right off the city’s Commons Park. The book sale was held in a small house owned by the library on the back of the property. At $2 a bag of books, we were quite pleased to rifle through the offerings. In addition to our bags of books, we scored a good supply of FREE books on tapes that include Arthur stories and a German Language series for kids.

    IMG_7996After the sale, we decided to look for lunch. There was a smattering of cafes across the green space and we headed that way. Timber Creek Pizza Co seemed a great choice and it didn’t disappoint this sometimes picky family. They have tons of choices at fantastic prices. Service was friendly, accommodating, and fast.

    Full of good food, we decided to explore the Commons Park and its massive band shelter before heading home. But on the way out of town, Rock Lake Park on County Rd B caught our eye. It offered a small playground, a fun hand operated water pump drinking fountain, and a secret tunnel passage. It was a great way to end our visit in Lake Mills.

    No matter where you live, there is probably a town or area that you haven’t really investigated. Give it chance.  Get out there and explore!

  6. Pippi, Pippi Longstocking

    May 30, 2014 by admin

    IMG_1865We’ve been thoroughly enjoying discovering the world of Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Efraim’s Daughter Longstocking. What could be more delightful than reading about the escapades of a confident, incredibly strong, insightful, and energetic young woman?

    Pippi lives in her inherited home, Villa Vellekulla, located in Sweden. Her mother is deceased and her father is presumed lost at sea. Pippi’s only home companions are a monkey and a horse, and she is quite content with her living situation. Pippi has also made good friends with two young siblings that reside next door.

    Pippi’s daily adventures usually leave us chuckling. And her sassy comments made to overbearing or presumptious adults will leave you cheering for Pippi. She will not be forced into a cookie cutter existence. Pippi demands to be allowed to romp outdoors rather than attend daily schooling. And she loves her appearance-  a freckled, red headed, shoes-to-big, mismatched stockings, pigtailed girl.

    We haven’t explored the tv or movie versions of Pippi. Perhaps we never will. But we love the girl we’ve met on the page. Pippi is a fabulous role model for any child!

  7. Home Repairs

    April 30, 2014 by admin

    Our young Bluey helped fix the toilet today.

    An important lifeskill is being able to complete some small repair to your home.  Whether you rent or own, you should know how to do a few simple things from changing a fuse to working a plunger.

    When our toilet recently decided to keep running long after the flush, we tried the ol’ jiggling-the-handle trick.  But it was a no go.  So we pulled off the tank lid to look inside.  And instantly, our Bluey was at our side asking how this thing worked.  And how we might be able to fix it. Bluey holds an unwavering belief that we can fix anything.

    IMG_5702So we started explaining to him how the toilet works.  The handle is a lever and it lifts this connection that lets the water out of the tank, the float is at the end of another lever that is attached to this valve here, etc….  We can talk to him confidently about things like levers and syphons and screws in part, because he is an avid fan of David MacCaulay’s, The Way Things Work.  Bluey has gone through the book several times and we’ve read most of the sections repeatedly.

    We showed him the part of the book that explains how toilets work.  Then we talked him through what we’d need to do to make our toilet function correctly.  And together, Bluey and TRDad fixed the toilet!


    We love when our daily lives cross so nicely with the things we are studying and teaching at home.

  8. The Gateway Poet

    March 5, 2014 by admin

    Who is your ‘Gateway’ poet?  You know, the one who got you started.  Maybe at first you believed that you just weren’t into poetry; it wasn’t your scene.  But then you started exploring, maybe just a little at first…just to try it.

    And you found the one that started you down that lovely path of reading poets.  Perhaps you even started dabbling in some rhymes of your own? We bet you now search out stacks in used bookstores for slim volumes of text from your new faves.nash-ogden

    You could quit anytime.   But you don’t.  You won’t.  You’re hooked.  And you can blame it all on your Gateway Poet.

    For TRDad, the poet was Ogden Nash.  His silly little poems about animals, “Hark to the cry of the seagull, he cries because he’s not an eagle!” seem so simple.  But these poems are regarded as ‘real poetry’ by people who keep track of this sort of thing.  So after a few Nash verses, TRDad started looking for other similar rhymes.

    From Nash it was a short path leading to Frost, and Shapiro, then Plath.   Once you’re in that deep, the discovery of Collins, Williams, and others is easily done.  Then when a friend points you to e.e. cummings, you view that poet with new respect and appreciation.

    silversteinshel_custom-d9a683da694bd0e0372729064b7ab15881ed646b-s6-c85For TRMom, that poet was Shel Silverstein and his book, Where the Sidewalk Ends.  It is full of humor and honesty that is written with an accessible prose.  Silverstein helped lead to e.e. cummings which then veered to Diane Wakoski.

    Now, TRDad and TRMom are unapologetic champions of poetry.  And it was all due to finding Ogden Nash and Shel Silverstein at an early age.

    Who is your Gateway Poet?  What paths did s/he lead you on?

  9. Woof! Woof! Reading Dog Books

    February 19, 2014 by admin

    IMG_1512Somewhere along the line, we started reading ‘Dog Book’ stories to Bluey.  It might have started with  The Incredible Journey, which we enjoyed after viewing the movies.

    We now have a bonafide tradition of reading dog books over breakfast and lunch-  we read just a few pages (maybe 10) at each meal.  It gives us a chance to mellow out in the middle of the day and prepare for whatever adventures our afternoon may bring.

    We go through quite a few books.  On average, it takes us about 2 weeks to finish one.  So there seems like there is always a new story to begin.

    We enjoy these books because we love animals.  Most of the stories go into some detail about animal care and animal illnesses and that helps spark conversations about the animals in our world.

    Here are a few of our favorites from the past year:

    Clarence the TV Dog:  This funny, upbeat book from Patricia Lauber covers the antics of a TV loving pup growing up in the 50’s.  We love Clarence’s  many adventures, and how he always seems to be a step ahead of the people who try to reign him in.

    Animal Ark:  It is a series set at a veterinary clinic in Wales.  The series revolves around the vets’ daughter Mandy and her friend James, who have a knack for finding lost animals and solving animal related mysteries.  With its vet clinic setting, these books contain tons of real world info about all sorts of animals.  And the recurring cast allows us an easy starting point at the beginning of each book.IMG_1514

    Star-Dog:  Star Dog took us in a different direction: science fiction!  With aliens and government agents afoot, we were able to explore a whole new genre while using our dog book theme.

    We are about halfway through our stack of dog books, gleaned from shops and book sales over the years.  We are having a great time with them.  It is so much fun to explore the many worlds of these stories.

  10. Ramona and Half Pint

    January 29, 2014 by admin

    IMG_1395We love sharing some of our favorite book series with our youngest as a read-aloud activity.  So everyday we take Bluey to Klickitat Street and Walnut Grove.  He hears about  adventures with Mr. Edwards,  Uncle Hobart, and Picky-Picky.  Bluey loves these stories and always wants more.

    Although many of these books are actually marketed towards kids several years older than Bluey, we love being able to read them to him.  He follows the plots quite readily and enjoys hearing about, and picturing, the trials and tribulations of kids a bit older than him. Since we are reading long series of books, it really gives Bluey a chance to connect with the characters and locations.

    We started with the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary.  Ramona is a precocious and independent spirit with a love for art.  Her struggles as the youngest member of her family resonate for Bluey.

    After finishing all the adventures of Ramona, Beezus, Henry, and Ribsy, we moved on to the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  The Little House stories take Bluey to another time and he learns abut how people lived in the past.  There is an amazing amount of detail about the settlers struggles that we had forgotten as adults.  And, of course, Laura is really dealing with the same issues as people today: siblings, family issues, bullies at school…  in many ways it is also very familiar to our Bluey.

    Tip:  Be prepared to discuss racism and sexism with your child when reading the Little House books.

    We treasure these times, snuddled up together, experiencing these worlds with our young child.  We think he does too.

    When he is older, maybe Bluey will reread all these great books.  Or maybe he’ll turn to other series, other authors.  Regardless, he’s experiencing the worlds of Laura and Ramona now, and he loves every moment.