Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Book Recommendations

Christmas time is a wonderful time to snuggle together and enjoy a good book.  Why not add a few of these titles to your library this Christmas and create a wonderful memory with a book?  Giving children books for Christmas and birthdays teaches them that books are something to be treasured and valued.  A book is also going to be more meaningful than many of the fad toys around today.

These books have become integral parts to our families Christmas celebration.  We read them together each year.  They have become just as important as the stockings or the tree to my children!  Make them a part of your Christmas tradition and you will be glad you did!  Its easy...grab a cup of warm cocoa and a blanket and read!

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski--Mr. Toomey is well known as the best woodcarver around.  However, he is so solemn the village children have nicknamed him Mr. Gloomy.  A widow and her son call on him and ask his help in carving a creche in time for Christmas.  Little does he know it, but this job is one that will change his life.  This story has quickly become a classic since it was first published in 1995.  Children and adults love to read this heartwarming story. 

 The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg--A little boy is swept away on a train late at night to the North Pole.  Another modern day classic read aloud this time of year.

The Christmas Cat by Efner Tudor Holmes--A cat is left out on his own in the cold of winter after his family moves away and abandons him.  A kind bearded man finds the kitty and brings him to a new home.  Beautifully illustrated by the renowned Tasha Tudor, this is a very nice story to read together this Christmas.

Fletcher and the Snowflake Christmas by Julia Rawlinson--  We have always loved the Fletcher books ever since a friend introduced them to me.  (There is one for every check out the whole series!)  In this story, the Rabbits have moved to a new burrow.  Fletcher the fox has to help Santa find their new home. 

Silver Packages:  An Appalachian Christmas Story by Cynthia Rylant--This story was inspired by the "Christmas Train" which rolls through the Appalachian Mountains each Christmas season.  From this train, tons of toys are tossed to children who wait patiently by the tracks.  Cynthia Rylant is one of my favorite children's offers.  This is a very special book that helps remind us that Christmas time is not about receiving, but about giving.  

The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown--The author of this book (most famous for her story Good Night Moon) tells an inspiring tale of a little fir tree growing by the edge of a forest.  Every year a man comes and digs the fir tree up and brings him to his son's room for Christmas.  The little boy is lame and can not get out of bed.  Then every spring the fir tree is returned to the ground.  Each year the fir tree grows bigger and stronger as does the little boy.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman --  These "Little Golden Books" are included here for nostalgic reasons.  Many of my readers probably grew up reading Little Golden Books.  They are still just as good today as they were when we were children.  These two tales tell the classic tales of two famous Christmas characters.  If you can find these classic books, GRAB them!  The originals are definitely better than the newer golden books in my opinion.  You can often buy them used on eBay and Amazon.  My copies are from my childhood which makes them all the more valuable to me.

Saint Francis and the Christmas Donkey by Robert Byrd--Late one winter day in Italy, St. Francis the patron saint of animals, encounters an unhappy donkey.  St. Francis tells him the story of his origins and the story of the "Christmas Donkey"--  The donkey who carried Mary over tough terrain to the city of Bethlehem.

The Story of Holly & Ivy by Rumer Godden-- Ivy, who lives in an orphanage, wants a home for Christmas more than anything else.  Ivy makes a wish.   Holly is a doll left all alone in a toyshop window on Christmas Eve.  More than anything, she wants a child's hands to bring her to life and play with her.  Holly makes a wish.  A childless couple have a beautiful Christmas tree and holiday feast, but long for a child to share it with also make a wish.  This is a touching tale about the miracles that can sometimes happen around Christmas time. 

Grumpy Badger's Christmas by Pal Bright--  The 'animal' version of the Christmas Carol:  Grumpy Badger is trying to hibernate this winter but keeps getting woken up by the other animals preparations for Christmas.  This book led to lots of great discussions on hibernation and what various animals will do to cope with the cold and short days of winter. 

The Light of Christmas by Richard Paul Evans--This touching story teaches us that it isn't what you have to give that counts.  It is how you give of yourself that counts.

The Christmas Candle by Jacob Collins--This modern day fable is a story of how a Christmas Candle teaches a man the values of charity and goodwill.  Beautifully illustrated!

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston --  OK...I have to admit that after reading this aloud to my children, I was tearing up.  But in a good way if that makes sense!  This is SUCH a good book.   It is a very sentimental

My Treasure of Christmas Stories, illustrated by Caroline Pedler-  This anthology contains such classics as:
The story of the first Christmas (retold from Luke 2:1-20),
A Christmas Carol (retold from the story by Charles Dickens)
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
The Nutcracker (retold from a story by E.T.A. Hoffman)
The Twelve Days of Christmas
The Little Fir-Tree (retold from a story by Hans Christian Anderson)
The Snow Queen (retold from a story by Hans Christian Anderson)
I usually don't like stories that are re-told.  However, I find this edition to be very nice.  All of the stories are told in verse which the children loved.  I also find that the versions of these stories still remain very true to the original tales and provide very young children a good introduction to these classics.  If you can't find this particular anthology...OR if you have older children with longer attention spans, I highly recommend that you check them out.  They are great classics for Christmas time.

Well Everyone...that is what is in my Christmas Book Basket this year.  Have fun enjoying these books and others.   Remember that you still can get free shipping on many of these items and before Christmas evestill receive them by Christmas Eve. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Field Trip to the Fire Department

October* was National Fire Safety Prevention Month.   So to celebrate the month we took a tour of a local fire department with some of our friends.   The kids had a great time and I think they learned a lot.

*I know, I is currently mid November.  Sometimes I am a little late to download photos off of my camera. 

The kids and parents watching a film on fire prevention and safety.

Taking a tour of the fire department.  We got to see where the firefighters sleep and eat and how calls are answered.

The kids learned about some of the tools the firefighters use to fight fires and perform medical rescues.

The kids hanging out on the truck.

The kids caught an inside look of the fire truck.

Marcus jumping out

Just being silly

This is the outfit Sophie picked out and demanded to wear.  She is wearing her favorite black fur coat with her spiderman ball cap.  She found this black fur coat at the thrift store and LOVES it.  She says it is her "bear coat".

Sophie in her bear coat walking around.

After we saw the inside of the truck, the kids were invited inside to see the firefighter in his full gear.

The firefighter wanted the kids to see what he looked and sounded like in his gear.  He explaided that often times kids are frightened when they see a fire fighter coming into their room and will run and hide from them.  He wanted them to know that he was just a "regular guy" under all of this equipment, and they didn't need to be afraid of him.  Marcus pointed out that he sounded a lot like Darth Vader with the mask on. 

Sophie gave the firefighter a hug.

Marcus giving the firefighter a hug.

They all tried to lift up some of the equipment.  It was HEAVY!

Group Photo

Links to become Attached to:
Tot School
Preschool Corner
Field Trip Friday Blog Hop

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Where are all the children?

It was 10:30AM on a beautiful fall day in November.  I walk my children, 3 and 4 years old,  to our neighborhood playground to play and enjoy an unseasonably warm day.  We arrive at the playground to find it vacant.  Completely and utterly vacant.  This is a normal experience for us.  Even though our neighborhood is home to many families with young children, seeing a child during the day is a very rare site.   "Where are all the children?"  I wonder.

After coming home, we snuggle on the couch and read some books.  Marcus enjoys playing "I spy" with me lately.
"I spy with my little eye something that begins with F on this page," I say to him.
"I know...Fox!" Marcus shouts.

Later we head to the grocery stores.  I see many men and women there.  I see no children over the age of 6 months.  We live in a community where early academics is thought of as a necessity.  A child is sent away to school at a young age and that is the norm.  It is rare for a 3 and 4 year old not to be enrolled in some type of formal schooling.  

A lady shopping for her family pushes her cart next to mine.  We are both pricing cereals.  She comments about how brave I am to "come shopping with children." 

"I never go to the grocery store with my children if I don't have to!" She tells me. 

I smile.  But to be honest with you, I am thinking that shopping with children isn't bravery at all.  It is normal and natural for me.  My children go where I go.  The more regularly and consistently a child is brought into circumstances like that, the quicker they learn what is socially acceptable to do and not to do.  

On another day I take my kids to a local science program for homeschoolers.  Today we are learning about density.  The children try to guess whether an object will sink or float and record their predictions in their science notebooks.  Finally, they test their hypotheses by placing the objects in water.  

Like most homeschool programs there is a wide range of people in this room.  There are babies.  There are school aged children.  There are toddlers.  There are parents.  There are even some grandparents who have come to see the fun.  The people in this room all converse and interact easily.  A first grader bends down to play peak-a-boo with a baby.   Another girl who is probably in third grade invites Sophie over.  "Don't you want to do the experiment too?" She asks.  Sophie nods.    "Here," she says.  "I will help you.  I used to do this same experiment when I was little."   Sophie smiles.  She enjoys getting the special attention.

One of the grandmothers comes over to the table where the kids are doing their experiment.  She picks up a penny from the table.  (One of the objects that the children are testing to see if it will sink or float.)  She says aloud, "Oh, this is a copper penny."
"How can you tell?" asks another boy.
The lady explains how to tell if the penny is made from mostly copper or zinc.  The boy listens fascinated about his "special" penny. 

This type of behavior is a common thing to see at these programs.  And yet, it still gives me a happy surprise.   I do have to admit that before I had spent much time around homeschoolers, I had this crazy notion that they were all strange, basement-dwelling-creatures who were "weird" and "unsocial".  I had this visual in my head of a bunch of girls wearing long denim jumpers with permed hair that never were around other kids or people.   I had read enough to know that children who are homeschooled out perform their public schooled peers academically.  However, I just assumed that they were all awkward and strange creatures lacking any type of social skills.  After all, they weren't in a classroom with 30 other kids all day...right?   My impressions were changed drastically after spending some time with homeschoolers.
Most homeschoolers are used to interacting and socializing with a wide variety of ages.   Not just people their exact same age.  They are used to being patient with a younger children because they are around them all day.  They enjoy hearing stories from an older generation.  They can play with children their age or younger or older.   To them, this is natural.  And you know what?  It is.

We often send our children away to be socialized.  However, perhaps being around thirty children your exact same age isn't the way we are meant to be socialized.  That isn't how real life works.  Children naturally and instinctively model their behavior after others.  Perhaps modeling their behavior off of 30 other immature beings isn't the best way to teach children how to act in life.   And research supports this.  In fact, there are numerous reports that show that the more time a child is separated from their direct care giver, the more aggressive and noncomplying they become.  Perhaps because they are modeling their behavior off of so many other immature beings.  (example)

In real life you interact with people from many different ages.  You learn to share knowledge with those younger than yourself.  You learn to listen to and learn from those who have more experience.   In fact, the last time I ever was in a group of people my exact same age was when I was in school.  Since then, whether in college, working at a career, or making friends as an adult, life has required that I interact and socialize with people from many different age groups. 

I start to think that perhaps separating children from our adult world is not the key to socialization.   Perhaps children need this interaction with the older generation.  Perhaps it is beneficial to have adult interaction and experiences modeled from them.

And you know what?  I start to realize how creepy it is to live in a world where children are so absent and separated from the adult world.  And I am not the only one coming to this realization.   

I am not saying that children in a traditional classroom environment are incapable of interacting with people who are a different age.  Please don't misunderstand.   I am just saying that the being "socialized" in a wide group of ages is not a hindrance to children.  In fact, quite the opposite, the added practice helps them to be more social and capable beings.


’You are very much older than I am,’ said Winston. ’You must have been a grown man before I was born. You can remember what it was like in the old days, before the Revolution. People of my age don’t really know anything about those times. We can only read about them in books, and what it says in the books may not be true. I should like your opinion on that....
From 1984, by George Orwell. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thanksgiving Book Suggestions

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  For me the holiday is extra special, because it was around this time five years ago that I first became a mother.  So I have an added reason to be thankful this time of year.  I also enjoy a reminder to slow down and really savor all that I have to be grateful for.  For me this time of year means crisp, fall days; sweaters; pumpkin pie; and time spent gathered with loved ones.  It doesn't get much better than that.

To help us all get in the mood for Thanksgiving, I recently filled our book basket with some of our favorite picture books for this holiday.  I don't know of a better way to celebrate the holiday season than time spent snuggled up with your children sharing a good book.  It is a surefire way to create some cherished holiday memories for both parent and child.   So--to get you in the mood for Thanksgiving, here are some great books on the topic that you can share with your children.  Some are historical fiction, others celebrate our modern day version of the holiday, and some of just silly and fun--But they are all great books and worth a read!

I hope that you will take time out to make these stories a traditon in your family too! 

The Attached Mama's Thanksgiving Book List:

1)  This is the Turkey by Abby Levin, Illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye
This is a very cute book and it makes a perfect read aloud for small children.  The story begins with Max picking out a turkey at the grocery store.  It goes on to celebrate all that thanksgiving has to offer:  The food, the family, the preparation, and time spent with family.  This book also reminds us that our holidays don't always have to be perfect to be wonderful!

 2)  The Very First Thanksgiving Day by Rhonda Gowler Green, Paintings by Susan Baber
Written in cumulative rhyme, this beautifully illustrated book tells the story of the first Thanksgiving.  The repetitive text is fantastic for children learning to read as it gives them a chance to help tell the story.  What makes this book unique is the way that the story is told.  The book starts out showing the very first Thanksgiving feast, and slowly backtracks to tell the story of the Pilgrim's first year in America.

3)  Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin
This book tells the story of a traditional New England Thanksgiving on a cranberry farm.  The book is a great reminder that we can't always judge 'a book by its cover' and that sometimes appearances may deceive.  Children will enjoy looking for Grandmother's secret and famous recipe for Cranberry Bread which is hidden in the book.  Baking this bread will become a wonderful new tradition for you and your family.

4)  It's Thanksgiving by Jack Prelutsky, Illustrated by Marylin Hafner
We love reading poetry together as a family.  And after checking this book out of the library, I just knew that it would someday become a permanent member of our home library.  This collection of poetry talks about so many different aspects of this holiday--usually in a very humorous way.    This book contains poems about the very first Thanksgiving,  a funny poem about "Dad's football game" after the big meal, a poem about the Thanksgiving Day parade (where it is drizzling...isn't it always drizzling during the Thanksgiving Day parade?!),  and another very humorous poem about the things we do with all of those turkey leftovers. 

5)  Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes, Illustrated by Doris Barrette
This is a great book for very young children.  The pictures are charming and inviting, the text is simple, but the message is a good one. 

6)  This is the Feast by Diane Z. Shore, Illustrated by Megan Lloyd
This book is written in a lyrical verse which makes it a joy to read aloud to children.  The illustration are meticulous and breathtaking.   Children will really get a sense of what life on the Mayflower might have been like. 

7)  The Pilgrim Cat by Carol Antoinette Peacock, Illustrated by Doris Ettlinger
This was another book that we checked out and knew that we would one day have to buy.  My little girl actually cried when it came time to return this to the library!   That is how much she loved this book.  And I enjoyed reading it as much as my children enjoyed hearing it.  The book is a historical fiction which follows a cat who jumps aboard the Mayflower as it is departing England.  The cat is befriended by a young girl named Faith.  The book is richly illustrated and a pleasure to read.  The reader really gets a feel for what life might have been like for a child aboard the mayflower.

This is just a small list of the many fantastic books available on this holiday.   My hope is that this list will help get you started on building your own Thanksgiving book basket.

Thanks for reading!

Links I'm Attached To:


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Curriculum- Preschool (2011-2012)

I thought that I had better update my curriculum thread and post some changes that we have made this year.  Again, I apologize for the length of this post! 

This year both kids are still in preschool.  So I am calling this Marcus's P5 year and Sophie's P4 year.   We are using Sonlight's P4/5 as our main curriculum, however I took out some of the books and added in some others.  I have marked the sonlight books with an asterisk. 

Bible: 5 X per week
The Jesus Storybook Bible
Family-Time Bible in Pictures  *
Seeds Family Worship Music 
Simply Charlotte Mason Memory System
I love, love, love Seeds Family Worship.  I can't say enough good things about it.  The CDs are made for kids--however, I enjoy them too.  (I can't say that about most children's music!)  We are learning approximately a new verse every week by singing the songs and dancing around to them.  Best of all, you can listen to all of their music for free online here.  Plus, you can even print out index cards and a progress checklist here.  We use our memory index cards in a little filing box using the Simply Charlotte Mason Scripture Memory System.  This helps us practice things we have already memorized so we don't forget.  

Calendar Board: 5-7 X per week
Our Calendar Setup (Separate Post Coming Soon!) 
Our Memory Work List (Separate Post Coming Soon!) 
Our Song List (Separate Post Coming Soon!)
Please note:  I PROMISE I will talk more about our calendar setup in a future post.  I know I have made this promise before!  (Yikes!)  But this time I am REALLY going to make an effort to get some pictures taken and uploaded.    I will also talk a bit more about our "Grammar Stage" memory work and give you some ideas on how to implement that in your own home if you are interested.

Reading:  3-5 X per week 
All About Reading Pre-Level 1  (Starting on the Lesson 27 until finished)
Explode the Code:  Get Ready for the Code (Book A)
Explode the Code:  Get Set for the Code (Book B)
Explode the Code, Go for the Code (Book C)
Update on April 20, 2012:  After using the Explode the Code books for only a short period of time, we decided to put them away until the kids are older.  My son does not enjoy workbooks at all.  These workbooks were especially difficult for him because of all of the writing they require.   We found that the AAR Pre-Level 1 program was more than enough for him.  It was very fun and his favorite part of school.   

Handwriting: 3-5 Xs per week
Scholastic's Pre-Writing Practice Pages
From time to time we will do a page from Scholastic's Pre-Writing Practice Pages ebook.  When we are not doing that, we also practice some pre-writing activities given to us by Marcus's occupational therapist.  Our "Explode the Code" workbooks also have some writing practice.  So using this variety of materials, we try to practice our "grip" and control of writing instruments everyday.
Update on April 20, 2012:  About halfway through the year, we put away the pre-writing exercises and repeated Handwriting Without Tears Pre-K with Marcus and Sophie.  They are doing great!  I find this program easy to teach and VERY effective.  

Math:  3-5 X per week  (Marcus and Sophie working at their own pace separately)
Right Start Level A
Mathtacular 1 DVDMath Game- 1 X per week using:
Family Math for Young Children
The Math activities in What your Kindergartner Needs to Know

Science: 2 Xs per week
Elemental Science Early Years Curriculum (1 experiment per week, 1 separate nature study)
Science Play (This is the main "spine" of the Elemental Science Early Years Curriculum )
Science Notebooks 
Our Elemental Science Living Book List   (Separate Post Coming Soon!)  
The Berenstain Bears' Big Book of Science and Nature *
The Year at Maple Hill Farm *
What's Under the Sea *
Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There is? *
How Do You Lift a Lion? *
What's Smaller Than a Pygmy Shrew? *
How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World *
Why Do Tigers Have Stripes *
Update on April 20, 2012:  We found that Elemental Science did not work for us at all.  So we stopped using it early in the year.  My son LOVES science so I really just try to encourage him in this area by giving him the tools he needs to explore and investigate the world around him.  We found the science books in Sonlight's P4/5 to be fantastic. 

Storybook Science Nature Study Class- (2Xs per month)
We participate in a local science class for preschoolers called Storybook Science.  This class takes place every other Thursday.  The classes are fabulous.  A naturalist from one of our local parks leads the class.  She usually reads the children a picture book that talks about something from nature.  Then, we play a game where the children learn about the topic discussed in the picture book.  Finally, the naturalist takes us outdoors on a nature walk to look for something in nature that relates to our topic.  I am learning just as much as the children on these walks.

Language Arts "Read Alouds":  1 X per week
First Thousand Words *  We use First Thousands words as a way to build our vocabulary by playing a fun "I Spy" game with the words on the margins of the pictures.  I say the word and the children have to find it in the main picture.  We also use the word list at the back of the book to have the kids search the picture for an object that begins with a certain letter sound. 

Social Studies: 1 X per week
People *
Then and Now *
Things People Do *
What do People Do All Day (A Sonlight P3/4 book that we haven't finished yet.) 

Play and Learn French by Ana Lomba and Marcela Summerville
Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (Easy French Storybook + CD)
Boucle D'or et les Tois Ours (Easy French Storybook + CD)
1000 First Words in French
Muzzy (French)
Professor Toto (French)

Art Appreciation Reading and Discussion: 1 X per week
A Child's Book of Art *
The Usborne Book of Famous Paintings
13 Paintings Children Should Know
13 Artist Children Should Know
Field trips to our local art museums
We typically go through just a page per day of one of these books.  I find a couple of pictures and we simply talk about them.  I try to ask leading questions and see what the children can observe from the paintings.  (For example:  "Does this painting look like it was painted recently or a long time ago?"  "What is the first thing that you see when you look at this painting?"  "Does it look like those horses are standing still or moving?  How can you tell?"  etc etc.)  I am focusing less on knowing the names of the paintings or artists and more on just enjoying and appreciating the art. 

Art:  1 X per week
Artistic Pursuits "The Way They See It" 
Storybook Art by MaryAnn Kohl
Discovering Great Artists by MaryAnn Kohl

We are currently using the Artistic Pursuits program designed for preschool aged kids.  Although I am ONLY using it because I already spent the money on it.   I do not recommend you purchase it.   To be honest with you, I think you would be much better off spending your money on one of the various MaryAnn Kohl art books for children.  Artistic Pursuits has some wonderful art books for older children, however I don't really like her preschool art book.  The author talks a lot about how a preschooler's art should focus more on the process rather than the product...but most of her projects seem to be very product oriented IMO.  I also think that the fonts she uses are overly decorative and hard to read.  Which for some reason annoys me.    Overall, I think the book is way overpriced for what you get. 

We are going to make the best of it, however, and use what we can from the book.  Then I am going to move on to Storybook Art and Great Artists by MaryAnn Kohl.   And we will do some select projects from both of those books.  Those books are much more affordable and much more fun for kids.  I would recommend that parents supplement those books with full color pictures of the art work that she references.  You can't appreciate the art very well from a tiny black and white picture. 

Singing and finger plays together once per day
Themes to Remember (Listen to informally.) 
What your Kindergartner Needs to Know Music Activities (Once a Month)

Literature (What I call our "Read Alouds"):
First Chapter Books
Uncle Wiggily's Storybook by Howard R. Garis *
Jenny and the Cat Club by Esther Averill
Jenny's Moonlit Adventure by Esther Averill
The Hotel Cat by Esther Averill
Captains of the City Streets by Esther Averill
The School for Cats by Esther Averill
The Hotel Cat by Esther Averill
Jenny Goes to Sea by Esther Averill
The Classic Tales of Brer Rabbit by Don Daily (from stories collected by Joel Chandler Harris) *
Teddy Robinson Stories by Joan G. Robinson
Necklace of Raindrops by Joan Aiken
The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook by Joyce Lankester Brisley *
Peter Rabbit's Giant Storybook by Beatrix Potter
The Children's Book of Virtues edited by William J. Bennet *
Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson
The Tough Winter by Robert Lawson
Paddington Bear by Michael Bond (We may add the sequels if the children enjoy this book.)
Raggedy Ann and Andy book by Johnny Gruelle
Usborne Stories of Knights and Castles by Anna Milbourne
Aesop's Fables illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel by Thorton Burgess
Adventures of Peter Cottontail by Thorton Burgess
Adventures of Danny the Meadow Mouse by Thorton Burgess
The Adventures of Reddy Fox by Thorton Burgess
The Adventures of Buster Bear by Thorton Burgess
The Adventures of Grandfather Frog by Thorton Burgess
(Thorton Burgess Box Set has all 6 titles)
A Child's Introduction to Greek Mythology
The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me by Roald Dahl

    Picture Books:

    Simply Charlotte Mason Early Years Reading List
    Peak with Books Book List (Reading the books only.  Not doing the whole program)
    FIAR Picture Book List (Again, just reading the books only.  Not doing the whole program)
    Various Holiday Books (separate post coming soon!)

      The Mother Goose Treasury  (Any nicely illustrated version will do!)
      When we were very young by A.A. Milne
      Animal Poems Illustrated by Meg Rutherford, Compiled by Polly Richardson
      Here's a Little Poem:  A very first book of poetry, collected by Jane Yolen, Illustrated by Polly Dunbar
      Poetry for Young People series (Animal Poems is a good one to start with...but my children love animals so perhaps we are biased.) 
      Robert Louis Stenson's A Child's Garden of Verses (any nicely illustrated version will do!)  I like the one illustrated by Alice & Martin Provensen although it doesn't contain all of the poems.  Another one I like is the illustrated version by Tasha Tudor which is a more complete version.)
      Don't Bump the Glump and Other Fantasies by Shel Silverstein
      Read Aloud Treasury of Read-Aloud Poems for Young People
        Audio Books and Stories:
        Jim Weiss's Audio Storybooks

        World Cultures / Geography:

        Usborne Stories from Around the World *
        The Lion Storyteller Bedtime Book  *
        Around the World in 80 Tales
        Stories from Africa *
        The Gods Must be Angry *
        New Toes for Tia *
        A Child's Introduction to the World
        Some FIAR books (Many FIAR books are great introduction to other cultures and geographic locations!)

        We are doing a continent study where we read about and study each of the 7 major continents.  To supplement this study, I read to the children from stories set in the various locations we are studying.  This is just a gentle introduction to the world and to different cultures.    In a separate post (this one is long enough!) I will share how I organized this study. 

        Field Trips and Clubs:

        • ECHO Group- Social and Educational Field Trips approx 1-4 times per week.  (Tour of police station, tour of bakery, play date at the park, trip to the art museum, etc. etc.)
        • Kids Book Club (1 X per month)
        • Fun Fridays with Friends Kids Club (1 X per week)
        • Taekwondo (2 X per week)
        • Gymnastics (1 X per week)
        • Homeschool Co-Op- (1 X per week) The kids take a world cultures class and a preschool story book art class.  
        * A Sonlight P4/5 book
        Saturday, July 16, 2011

        The Winner of the Lentil Giveaway

        Congratulations to Amber!  She is the winner of our recent giveaway for the book Lentil by Robert McCloskey.  The winner was chosen at random using the random number generator at

        Thanks to everyone who entered the contest!
        Tuesday, July 12, 2011

        Sonlight or Five in a Row?

        (Sure...this is "exactly" how I look

        If you are a fan of my blog, you will know that we recently started a new literature based curriculum this summer called Five in a Row.  The program is called "Five in a Row" because a single book is read five days in a row.  (This is called "rowing" a book.)  Each day a different subject is covered which pertains to something discussed in the book. (Note:  You can see what a typical week of FIAR looks like for us here to get a better idea of how the program works.) We are using this program as a sort of a filler year over the summer and fall until we are ready to order Sonlight P4/P5. 

        Since I began blogging about Five in a Row I have gotten multiple emails from people asking me which I like better:  Sonlight or Five in a Row.  

        Here I will give some of my thoughts on the subject for those who are interested.

        Sonlight or Five in a Row?
        The short answer to your question is this:  I think that the two programs actually complement each other VERY nicely.  So I would say that there is absolutely no reasons that you would have to choose between the two programs.  So, I would start thinking in terms of Sonlight AND FIAR.

        The two things that these programs have in common is an absolute incredible ability to choose wonderful children's literature.  I have been blown away by their selections.  They happen to choose books that not only appeal to the adult in the child, but also to the child in the adult.  Some of the stories/books are timeless classics that you will probably be familiar with.  Others are books that I never would have discovered on my own if it hadn't been for FIAR and Sonlight.  But my short answer is that all of these books are absolutely wonderful.  Even if you don't do the entire FIAR program as intended (reading the books five days in a row and doing all of the activities) I would at the very least use FIAR as a reading list.  You won't want to miss these books.   The one con to both of these programs is that they will probably turn you into a children's book snob. (I say that half jokingly.)  What I mean is that It is hard to go back to everyday children's twaddle after spending so much time with Sonlight and FIAR books. *

        One of the big differences between FIAR and Sonlight, is that FIAR puts a lot more emphasis on picture books.  In fact, picture books make up their entire program until you get to Beyond Five in a Row which was developed for 8-12 year olds.  One of the most wonderful things that FIAR has taught me (as a parent/teacher) is to appreciate these picture books immensely.  I used to think that these picture books were "babyish" and basically just a stepping stone until the child has the attention span to listen to chapter books.  However, I have learned that these picture books talk about incredibly deep subjects and the stories they have to tell are anything but babyish.   I have also learned to have such an appreciation for them as an art form.  So I am happy to include them both in what I read to my children.

        Sonlight books, on the other hand, put a lot more emphasis on books with fewer pictures.   Actually, the only Sonlight core which is made up of picture books is their very first preschool core (Sonlight P3/P4).  After that, they move to a lot more chapter books (even in their core for 4 & 5 year olds-P4/P5 books!)  This is one of the reasons I say that FIAR and Sonlight complement each other very well.  Sonlight is going to have a lot of the longer read-alouds that you might read each day over the course of several days.  FIAR is going to be centered around picture books that you can easily read in one sitting.    Which is better?  I think that both are important for different reasons.  With picture books much of the story is stated implicitly.  You have to derive details from the pictures which teaches children to pay attention to small details while they are reading.  (Example: Night of the Moonjellies).  Non-picture books force the child to imagine the story for themselves (picturing how the setting and characters might look or sound like).  They also help build attention span. 

        Another difference between sonlight and FIAR is some of the topics that they talk about.  There is a really great article that I recommend reading called 27 reasons NOT to buy Sonlight.  I would say read these and if you find that a large amount apply to you , then I would skip sonlight because you probably aren't going to like it.  In particular I will talk about their reasons 6, 11, 15, 21, and 22.  Take for example, the Brer Rabbit tales included in Sonlight P4/P5.  Sonlight includes this in their core because they feel that these are classic tales which have a unique historical and cultural importance.  However, I have heard some people complain about these stories because in the stories Brer rabbit lies and cheats and generally gets away with it.  Although the stories are lighthearted and funny, their are some parents who don't even like to expose their chidlren to character traits like that at this age.   (Espeically when cheating seems to get the character ahead in life!)   It is Sonlight's opinion that parents need to talk with their children about right vs. wrong while reading the books.  And that books alone can't teach character lessons.  In fact, most of Sonlights curriculum is centered around the conversation that is supposed to happen naturally as you read these books.  However, if you feel like stories like this are not something you want to bring in your home, you probably aren't going to like Sonlight in general.  Another example would be Sonlight P3/P4 core are classic fairly tales.  In sonlight's opinion, these fairy tales and nursery tales are an important part of our handed down traditions in literature.  Sonlight feels that it is important that children be familiar with some of these stories since they are referred to so often in our culture.  On the other hand, some parents don't like fairy tales because of some of the topics that come up.   (For example in Hansel and Gretel, their step mother tries to get rid of the children by leading them off into the woods alone!)   As far as this issue is concerned, there is no right or wrong answer here.  I just bring this up so that you are aware of some criticism that Sonlight has received and you can decide what is right for YOUR family.  I also brought up some of the more controversial stories in both the preschool cores so that you might be able to check them out from the library and see if you have a problem with them.    The majority of the people I have talked to love Sonlight.  However, some have complained because they don't like some of the books sonlight chooses based on character issues.  You have to decide how you feel about this.

        In both Five in a Row and Sonlight, some heavy topics are discussed through the use of children's books.  For example, in the Five in a Row book Who Owns the Sun the topic of slavery is brought up which wasn't something I would have planned to talking to my 3 and 4 year old about.  However, I think that all of the books are written with taste and sensitivity and in a way that even young children can understand.

        Which Do I Personally Like Better?
        Well, bottom line is that I like both programs...and I have found both useful and worthwhile.    Also, like I said before, the good news is that we don't have to pick one vs. the other.  We can have both.  :)  However, I guess if I had to pick one, I would probably pick Sonlight. 

        We are three weeks into FIAR now, and to tell you the truth, I have very mixed feelings on it.  One one hand, it is a very fun program.  And the books are just superb.  I was pre-reading one of them last night (The rag coat) and I was seriously crying my eyes out at the end of it!  Over a picture book!  So they are truly great books and touch on a lot of important subjects that I never would have thought to bring up on my own.  Plus, we have been doing a lot of neat things.

        On the other hand, I still feel like FIAR is VERY planning intensive for mom.  (That is my biggest complaint about FIAR.)  Also, Marcus really doesn't like reading the same book over and over again.  He likes more variety.   So--to be honest with you, our family enjoyed our time learning with Sonlight more than FIAR.  So if I could only pick one for some reason, it would probably be Sonlight.

        I like it that sonlight does all of the planning and scheduling for you.  I just pick up the instructors guide and I have a complete put together curriculum that is also centered around great books.  So I had more time to actually just enjoy being with my children instead of time spent planning and gathering supplies.FIAR also seems more appealing from reading a blog point of view.  (Lots of great pictures.)  However, sonlight is more appealing from an implementation point of view.

        However, like I said, FIAR books are at the very least I would tell people to use the program as a reading list.  You don't want to miss these books.  :)

        Are you thinking of ordering from Sonlight?
        If so, if you click on the banner below to complete your order, you can save $5 on your order of $50 or more.  Just enter my rewards number upon registering (CH20271164). 

        Sonlight Curriculum

        Are you thinking of ordering from Five in a Row?
        I have found that you can save significant money on the Five in a Row teachers manuals by ordering them used from Amazon.  I have gotten all of mine that way, and I have been very pleased with their quality and price.
        Before Five in a Row
         Five in a Row Vol. 1
        Five in a Row Vol. 2
        Five in a Row Vol. 3

        Do you have a question for The Attached Mama?  You can ask your question here!

        *Links to Become Attached To:
        Some other great reading lists/literature based curriculum that I would recommend checking out in addition to Sonlight and FIAR are:
        (I haven't loved every book from Simply Charlotte Mason, but there are many treasures in there.  You will notice some overlap between all of these lists.  However, their are many treasures that I would see if your library has. ) 

        Also, to see how other families like Sonlight and Five in a Row, check out these links:

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