Friday, November 21, 2014

{Weekend Links} on Friday

"Things That Fascinate Me" Links

  • I could have written this post.  Actually, I did write something similar last year. I could have written it again last week when I told Gavin that his favorite pair of pants was too short to wear again and one hour later a friend gave us a bag of clothes that contained an identical pair of pants in the next size up!
  • I've been reading through this series with fascination and awe. Brian and I have a history of twins in both of our families and I have an underlying apprehension that this could be me someday.
  • I used this Thanksgiving copywork with my 8-year-old on Wednesday and I've printed more to use in the future. 

"Christmas is Coming!" Links

If you are savoring every last second of this autumn and Thanksgiving season, you may want to skip this specific section of links, but if you are like me and getting all your ducks in a row before Christmas helps you enjoy this season a little better, read on!
Truth in the Tinsel leaderboard 728x90

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Girl and the Bicycle

{This post contains Amazon affiliate links.}

I thumbed through The Girl and the Bicycleby Mark Pett as I selected it from the library basket.  I sighed a little sigh, or maybe groaned a silent groan, when I realized the book had no text.  Does that kind of book intimidate you, too?  I love to share stories with my kids, but I like the stories to already be crafted for me.  I don't want to make up the words as I go along.  It goes hand in hand with my other mama weakness.  I can't play.  I can do puzzles, play games, kiss boo-boos, and tuck covers under chins, but when it comes to play, I have no imagination.

I had an inspiration, though, in my short jaunt from the basket to my chair. Why not let the kids take turns telling the story and interpreting the illustrations from page to page?  Perfect.

So in this way, we discovered this charming tale of a girl who sees a bicycle in the store window and spends her next few seasons planning and earning so that she can make it her own.  Things don't always turn out the way she hopes and those twists brought audible gasps from a few of the kids.  They were that into the story. The ending is worth the whole book!

Other new books we've read  this month:

Saturday, November 15, 2014

November Twitterature

twitterature monthly reading linkup short reviews

Today I'm linking up with Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy to share "short, casual reviews" of the books I've read in the past 31 days.

I love to talk books on
my Facebook page , too, so stop by if you have a chance. 

{As always, post about books contain my affiliate links.}

The Scarlet Pimpernelby Baroness Orczy

This was the final classic from my challenge to myself this year. It was a quick read and now I think I need to see a movie version.
#classic  #historicalfiction

Life After Lifeby Kate Atkinson

I expected to love this and I did for the first half.  After that, the book started to drag and I thought I would never finish. I was expecting the finale to make up for the dull middle.  It didn't.
#fantasticstart  #willthisbookeverend  #partdrama  #partfantasy

The Riverby Beverly Lewis

I read this book because I've never missed a Beverly Lewis book, but I'm starting to lose my enchantment with them. The stories all seems to run together in my mind.
#amishfiction  #Christianfiction

Lip Reading by Harry Kraus

Harry Kraus's fiction is well-written and engaging, but this wasn't my favorite of his books. If you like medical drama, though, it's a good choice.
#medicalfiction  #Christianfiction  #artificialblood

I didn't find stellar books to read this month, but I enjoyed browsing these books for the ideas and photos, rather than the text: 

#drooling  #50daysuntildowntonabbeyseason5

Speaking of books, ideas, and reading, have you downloaded your free copy of my new eBook, Books for Christmas: What to Buy the Young People in Your Life?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Things I Love Right Now

1) Well-written Christian fiction
I find that often Christian fiction is too fluffy or too contrived and preachy for my taste.  On the other hand, with secular fiction, I have to be careful in what I select to avoid strong language or sexual situations. I love when I find high quality Christian literature.  These are two books that I have enjoyed this week (one I finished and one I'm still reading through): 

2) My WoodWick candle 
I love to hear it crackle as it sits on the counter in my kitchen and I love the autumnal pumpkin nutmeg scent.

3) Warm meals and new recipes
I cook year-round, but I've enjoyed using my oven again without overheating the rest of the house. Some of our recent favorites: buffalo mac and cheese, sausage stuffed shells, chicken piccata, and pumpkin butter muffins.

4) The Betsy series by Carolyn Haywood
I'm reading the books aloud to my girls, but since we've developed the habit of reading a chapter or two while the kids have an evening snack, the boys have been listening in, too. Written in the 1930s and 40s, the stories are quaint and simple.  We finished this one yesterday: 

5) "In-between" weather
It's November and it has been in the upper 60s so far this week.  I don't mind.  The kids have had more opportunities to play outside this fall than all through the hot, humid summer.  Our dog isn't complaining either.  He loves all the extra exercise, attention, and hugs from Alaine.

6) Dark evenings
I don't embrace change well, but I love when we return to standard time in the fall.  There is something cozy and unhurried about eating dinner when it is dark outside and then settling in for the evening.  With five kids in the house, it is rarely peaceful and quiet, but I can try to imagine it!

7)  Running with people
Aside from races, I've always run alone, but throughout the fall, I've had the chance to run with other people on the weekends.  One Saturday morning when the kids were sleeping over at their grandmother's house, Brian and I ran about six miles together.  The time flew by as we talked for the better part of an hour. I've also had the opportunity to meet up with a few people on Saturday mornings to run a three-mile route.  Again, the flow of conversation keeps my mind off of the effort.  On these runs, I don't care about the pace or the distance. I simply enjoy the companionship.

What do you love right now?  Let me know so I can love it, too!

Monday, November 10, 2014

A New School Plan

Our method of schooling has always been to do the majority of our learning together.  The kids work on a select few subjects independently (math, English, some health), but everything else is a group effort.  That has worked seamlessly for us...until this year. 

Owen, my 8-year-old third grader, is a strong visual learner.  If he reads or sees something himself, he retains the information, but if he listens to it being read aloud, he zones out.  We first started noticing during our nightly family devotions.  Brian would read a passage and Owen could barely recount the passage, often not even remembering who the story was about. I suspected it was the same during our history and science times at school, but he seemed to be gleaning enough to skate by. 

Two weeks ago, Brian was off from work for several days with a back injury so he was home to observe us during school.  I read a section of our science book out loud and when we started discussing it, Owen couldn't answer any of the questions I presented.  I decided to change tactics and asked him to instead tell me something he remembered or found interesting.  He couldn't do that either.  Brian suggested we try a new approach to learning for Owen that works with his strengths. 

{Why had I never considered that?!  Sometimes it helps to have fresh eyes introduce a new perspective.}

Last week we started our new school plan for Owen.  In order to maintain a sense of togetherness, I wanted him to be covering the same topics the rest of us were covering so while we delve into  The World of Columbus and Sonsby Genevieve Foster, he goes to his bedroom and reads a passage from a book about Columbus, too.  He started with  Follow the Dream: The Story of Christopher Columbusby Peter Sis which gave a thorough but brief overview.  Then he moved on to Where Do You Think You're Going, Christopher Columbus?by Jean Fritz, and he'll finish with Columbusby Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire. 

When he is done his day's reading, he rejoins us and tells us the highlights of what he read.  He is thriving with the new approach!  He shows us pictures.  He asks questions.  He reads us sections of what he read that day.  He has probably retained more in the past few days than he has the previous three months!

Our plan for science is similar.  On Tuesdays, while the rest of us read from  The Burgess Bird Book for Childrenby Thornton Burgess, Owen chooses any bird from National Wildlife Federation's World of Birds: A Beginner's Guideby Kim Kurki, reads the text, and studies the sketches.

(Incidentally, this book is included in my eBook Books for Christmas.  We own a copy and I love the artwork and way the information is presented visually.)

After Owen reads about one bird, he writes a fact about that bird in his nature journal.  On Wednesdays,  all of the kids update their nature journals with sketches to the birds they studies the day before.  The only difference now is that they are sketching different birds.  They love to compare drawings, though, so each of them is also learning small bits about what the others are studying!

Do you ever change curriculum or alter your method mid-way through the school year? 

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