Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Addition and Subtraction with Number Stickers

When someone gives you number stickers...

A box full of art goodies! It was Christmas. Not literally, but when you give a gaggle of girls a box of art supplies, it feels like Christmas. Smiles all around. Ideas shouted out. Just plain excitement.

At the bottom of the box I found some number stickers. I, too, had an idea! Math! That's right, math. I set the stickers aside until the excitement over the box waned. I knew my idea wouldn't fly until they had a chance to try their ideas.

Later in the afternoon, I pulled out the stickers and a piece of construction paper. Immediately I had several children asking, "What are you doing?"

"We're doing math!"

And, we did! Each child at their own level. Addition. Subtraction. Multiplication. Each child problem solving and thinking ahead to make use of the most numbers, while also carefully avoiding problems with numbers or solutions for which they had no stickers. Win. Win. For practicing math while problem solving and having a great time working with siblings to create problems. I love it when real life becomes math and math is involved in real life!

So, when life gives you number stickers (or you can purchase a pack with a 50% off JoAnns coupon), 
do math!

Side Note: As I write this blog, there is more learning happening in the kitchen! Our middle child found letter stickers in the bag and created a frog life cycle. She asked if we could find some print out or magazine pictures of tadpoles, froglets and frogs for the project she is creating. Who would have thought we could have this much learning fun with a bag of mismatched number and letter stickers?

More ideas with letter stickers, here!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Can Living Books Teach History?

I read this common question, or variations, in my inbox this time of year, every year. I usually answer something like:

Question: As I start the look into what we will do next year. I have been thinking about history. Next year I will have a 4th,2nd, and 1st grader. Someone mentioned Childhood of Famous Americans to me. I am looking for something to do maybe twice a week as the other days we have other activities. Could you comment on my thoughts.

Reading aloud returns great rewards. Auditory processing, the ability to process what is heard, develops as children listen to audio materials. Comprehension improves as participants ask questions and retell parts of the story. Vocabulary builds as the reader explains unknown words. Attention span increases as listeners sit eager to hear a story unfold. Relationships deepen as reader and listeners share emotions, thoughts and ideas. Reading aloud returns great rewards at any age. 

In response to the question raised by this mom (and many others like her now considering their curriculum choices for the coming year), she was specifically interested in Childhood of Famous Americans (the hardcovers if you can find them), for the ages posted. Older children may be interested in the Landmark books, biographies in the Signature series or We Were There books.

With the ages stated, these books can be read, comprehended and enjoyed together, as a family. Each child will gather details they find most intriguing. In our home we read in the afternoon before Dad comes home while toddler is still napping or later in the evening right before bed after jammies are on and teeth are brushed. Little eyes and bodies relaxed, transition to bed is easy. Family read-aloud time offers priceless memories of siblings and parents snuggled in the living room, reading.

Reading COFAs is a way to learn history and science. Children quickly become interested in COFA stories because the main characters are introduced as children. As to which title to choose, it is beneficial if the child chooses which title he would like to read first. Children are more likely to engage immediately and intently if their interest is piqued. Remember the content of COFAs lend themselves to history and science. Often as parents read, children begin to think how they can "study" the subject in more detail, maybe designing a lapbook, maybe helping to create a unit study, maybe acting out a historical event or dressing up as the main character, maybe simply checking out library books on the subject for deeper learning. 

If the listener is a reader, he or she may become so interested that independent reading may become a personal motivation. The result may be heading to the home library shelf to choose another independent read. COFAs make great independent reads, encouraging reading growth and fluency while learning history.

Younger readers, not quite ready to read a COFA independently, may enjoy choosing a similar title in the Step-Up book series. The reading level is lower than COFAs and make great reads for emerging readers. They are well-written and kids LOVE the content. 

Can history be studied reading "living books", books which allow the listener/reader to journey alongside characters? Absolutely! In fact, it is the stories our children have "lived" that are best remembered. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Live History with Landmark Books Part II

A few days ago I posted the 122 titles of the American titles in the Landmark series. Today I am adding the 63 titles in the World series so families can round out their collection. The above picture includes one of each.

The 63 titles in the World Landmark series

1      The First Men In the World by Anne Terry White
2      Alexander the Great by John Gunther
3      Adventures and Discoveries of Marco Polo by Richard Walsh
4      Joan of Arc by Nancy Wilson Ross
5      King Arthur and His Knights by Mabel Louise Robinson
6      Mary, Queen of Scots by Emily Hahn
7      Napoleon and the Battle of Waterloo by Frances Winwar
8      Royal Canadian Mounted Police by Richard L Neuberger
9      The Man Who Changed China: The Story of Sun Yat-sen by Pearl S. Buck
10    The Battle of Britain by Quentin Reynolds
11    The Crusades by Anthony West
12    Genghis Khan and the Mongol Horde by Harold Lamb
13    Queen Elizabeth and the Spanish Armada by Francis Winwar
14    Simon Bolivar, the Great Liberator by Arnold Whitridge
15    The Slave Who Freed Haiti: The Story of Toussaint Louverture by Katerine Scherman
16    The Story of Scotland Yard by Laurence Thompson
17    The Life of Saint Patrick by Quentin Reynolds
18    The Exploits of Xenophon by Geoffrey Household
19    Captain Cook Explores the South Seas by Armstrong Sperry
20    Marie Antoinette by Bernadine Kielty
21    Will Shakespeare and the Globe Theater by Anne Terry White
22    The French Foreign Legion by Wyatt Blassingame
23    Martin Luther by Harry Emerson Fosdick
24    The Hudson’s Bay Company by Richard Morenus
25    Balboa: Swordsman Conquistador by Felix Riesenberg
26    The Magna Charta by James Daugherty
27    Leonardo da Vinci by Emily Hahn
28    General Brock and Niagara Falls by Samuel Hopkins Adams
29    Catherine the Great by Katherine Scherman
30    The Fall of Constantinople by Bernadine Kielty
31    Ferdinand Magellan: Master Mariner by Seymour Gates Pond
32    Garibaldi: Father of Modern Italy by Marcia Davenport
33    The Story of Albert Schweitzer by Anita Daniel
34    The Marquis de Lafayette: Bright Sword of Freedom by Hodding Carter
35    Famous Pirates of the New World by A. B. C. Whipple
36    Exploring the Himalaya by William O. Douglas
37    Queen Victoria by Noel Streatfeild
38    The Flight and Adventures of Charles II by Charles Norman
39    Chief of the Cossacks by Harold Lamb
40    Adventures of Ulysses by Gerald Gottlieb
41    William the Conqueror by Thomas B. Costain
42    Jesus of Nazareth by Harry Emerson Fosdick
43    Julius Caesar by John Gunther
44    The Story of Australia by A. Grove Day
45    Captain Cortes Conquers Mexico by William Johnson
46    Florence Nightingale by Ruth Fox Hume
47    The Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler by William L. Shirer
48    The Story of Atomic Energy by Laura Fermi
49    Great Men of Medicine by Ruth Fox Hume
50    Cleopatra of Egypt by Leonora Hornblow
51    The Sinking of the Bismarck by William L. Shirer
52    Lawrence of Arabia by Alistair MacLean
53    The Life of Saint Paul by Harry Emerson Fosdick
54    The Voyages of Henry Hudson by Eugene Rachlis
55    Hero of Trafalgar by A. B. C. Whipple
56    Winston Churchill by Quentin Reynolds
57    The War of Korea: 1950 - 1953 by Robert Leckie
58    Walter Raleigh by Henrietta Buckmaster
59    Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt by Elizabeth Payne
60    Flying Aces of World War I by Gene Gurney
61    Commandos of World War II by Hodding Carter
62    Ben Gurion and the Birth of Israel by Joan Comay
63    The United Nations in War and Peace by T. R. Fehrenback

Creative Minds at Play

"Mom, look! We created our own well!"

Obviously I had trod into a new colonization. I could tell by the busy settlers and the fishing poles (sticks that is). Popped right up in my backyard! A few hours of hard work later, the "leaders" had designed a well (which one settler was using to fill up a bucket to carry to the vegetable garden) right in the middle of the colony. One person was in charge of caring for the pigs and the chickens, another the vegetable garden. Felt like I was in Plymouth.

One settler offered to give me a tour. I obliged. And what a tour I had! Smiling faces. Happy colonists. Each doing a job, working together. On the last leg of the tour I was encouraged to visit the duck pond complete with blue water lilies (thanks to the faded print on an old bath towel). This is where ducks could be hunted for dinner. They had thought of everything!

I walked back to the front of the house, smiling inside. What ingenuity! Reminded me of my childhood days. Wonder what their next adventure will be?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Motivation Sparks Learning

A day of discovery and interest-led learning. Better than anything I had planned. Better yet, it will be remembered.

The current interests were ignited by our friends' recent return visit from their work in Kenya. My children heard their stories, viewed their safari pictures and remembered personal discussions with their children, their friends. Intrinsic motivation? You bet!

One child took her interest to the library. She checked out informational books on African animals and started (because of her desire to remember the information) to copy the book. Copywork initiated by her interests (yes, we talked about plagiarism  too!). Her efforts helped her remember the animal facts she read but also helped her practice spelling and mechanics. Much accomplished through self-motivation and interest.

Her interest sparked the idea of designing her own lapbook (glad we kept those old file folders) using the copywork she had written and adding some pictures from old National Geographic and wildlife magazines. Thank you, Dad, for digging out the magazines from the laundry room cabinet!

Another child became interested in the geography and wanted to know the locations of the countries in Africa. Her interest ignited another child's curiosity and within minutes all three girls were asking for my help to find a printable outline map to label. We talked about reliable sources and how political boundaries change. Together we searched for the most recent political map of Africa. Great discussions.

Each proudly placed their finished "book" on my "desk" and talked about what their next learning adventure would be. Can't wait.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Live History with Landmark Books Part I

Has your child wondered how it might feel to find gold in California in 1848? How about walking the streets of Philadelphia with Ben Franklin? With Landmark books, children can authentically journey through America’s (and the world- but that is another post) past with our country’s heroes. The are packed with rich history and adventure, each written with eloquent and inviting language, drawing children into the setting, meeting people they might have only heard about and never had the chance to “know”.

“The early morning sun gleamed like a bright golden coin above the California foothills. It was January 24, 1848. In all the green wilderness world there was no sight of life except a wisp of smoke from a breakfast fire, and the figure of a man walking beside a ditch that led from a nearly finished sawmill to a river. Suddenly he stopped and stared intently down.”
                                    - The California Gold Rush, May McNeer

Landmark books make these curiosities possible by taking children along on the journey, whether signing the Constitution or laying rails on the transcontinental railroad. Along the way they meet people who changed or shaped our country.

Now considered vintage (because of their age), these books were the first among historical, non-fiction books written for the middle grade reader. They were originally published by Random House in the 1940s, 50s and 60s in two categories: American and World. There are 122 titles in the American series and 63 titles in the World series all penned by award-winning authors (for example C. S. Forester, Margaret Cousins, James Daugherty and Sterling North) individually contracted to write for the series. The hardcovers are now out of print, though some titles have been edited and reprinted in paperback form.

Landmarks make wonderful additions to home libraries as they can be enjoyed by readers of all ages (I have been known to stay up late into the night eagerly turning pages). They can be found at used bookstores, garage sales, library sales or through online book sources.

But for a boy, there were trees to climb, fish to catch, boars to sail, and canoes to paddle. There were the Commons, where Bostonians drove their cows to pasture, the marshes, the ponds, the river, and the sea. Boys built forts and stockades and played Indian, put together homemade boats and sailed the ponds as pirates, explored the woods and swam in the blue water.”
                                    - Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia, Margaret Cousins

Some our favorite physical features of the hardcovers include large font and inviting two-tone line drawings. Several of our books have that “old book smell” adding to their authentic feel.

Landmarks have been a part of our almost 20 year home education journey. My oldest son devoured Old Ironsides, his first introduction to a full-length, independently read chapter book. He was hooked, not only on the series, but also on history. (Imagine the excitement when we had the opportunity to walk aboard the U.S.S. Constitution!) Since that time, each of our children has come to better understand history from these vintage gems.

I enjoy sharing our favorites, what they have taught us and how they have influenced our children's understanding of the people and events which have shaped history, through conference workshops and local presentations. Many have never heard of these books are eager to incorporate titles into their studies and learn how they can begin collecting these treasures for their home library. Wanting to know more about how to use Landmarks in your home education program? Contact me. I'd love to share how these books have brought history to life for our family in workshop format.

Note: These non-fiction books do not neuter history. There tell of the scenes of real history, real people and real details. Some of the books include first-hand accounts which may be desired reserved for older readers. For example Thirty Seconds over Tokyo, a moving account, brilliantly written by Captain Ted W. Lawson, contains details of the injuries sustained by the crew which crashed into the China Sea during the Doolittle Raid. As with any book, parents must decide what books and materials are suitable for their children.

The 122 titles in the American category:

1      The Voyages of Christopher Columbus by Armstrong Sperry
2      The Landing of the Pilgrims by James Daugherty
3      Pocahontas and Captain John Smith by Marie Lawson
4      Paul Revere and the Minute Men by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
5      Our Independence and the Constitution by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
6      The California Gold Rush by May McNeer
7      The Pony Express by Samuel Hopkins Adams
8      Lee and Grant at Appomattox by MacKinlay Kantor
9      The Building of the First Transcontinental Railroad by Adele Gutman Nathan
10    The Wright Brothers by Quentin Reynolds
11    Prehistoric America by Anne Terry White
12    The Vikings by Elizabeth Janeway
13    The Santa Fe Trail by Samuel Hopkins Adams
14    The Story of the U. S. Marines by George Hunt
15    The Lewis and Clark Expedition by Richard L. Neuberger
16    The Monitor and the Merrimac by Fletcher Pratt
17    The Explorations of Pere Marquette by Jim Kjelgaard
18    The Panama Canal by Bob Considine
19    The Pirate Lafitte and The Battle of New Orleans by Robert Tallant
20    Custer’s Last Stand by Quentin Reynolds
21    Daniel Boone by John Mason Brown
22    Clipper Ship Days by John Jennings
23    Gettysburg by MacKinlay Kantor
24    The Louisiana Purchase by Robert Tallant
25    Wild Bill Hickok Tames the Wild West by Stewart H. Holbrook
26    Betsy Ross and the Flag by Jane Mayer
27    The Conquest of the North and South Poles by Russell Owen
28    Ben Franklin and Old Philadelphia by Margaret Cousin
29    Trapper and Traders of the Far West by James Daugherty
30    Mr. Bell Invents the Telephone by Katherine B. Shippen
31    The Barbary Pirates by C. S. Forester
32    Sam Houston, the Tallest Texan by William Johnson
33    The Winter at Valley Forge by Van Wyck Mason
34    The Erie Canal by  Samuel Hopkins Adams
35    Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo by Captain Ted Lawson
36    Thomas Jefferson, Father of Democracy by Vincent Sheean
37    The Coming of the Mormons by Jim Kjelgaard
38    George Washington Carver, the Story of a Great American by Anne Terry White
39    John Paul Jones, Fighting Sailor by Armstrong Sperry
40    The First Overland Mail by Robert Pinkerton
41    Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders by Henry Castor
42    The Pioneers Go West to California by Covered Wagon by  George R. Stewart
43    Peter Stuyvesant of Old New York by Anne Erskine
44    Lincoln and Douglas: The Years of Decision by Regina Z. Kelly
45    Robert Fulton and the Steamboat by Ralph Nading Hill
46    The F. B. I by Quentin Reynolds
47    Dolly Madison by Jane Mayer
48    John James Audubon by Margaret and John Kieran
49    Hawaii, Gem of the Pacific by Oscar Lewis
50    War Chief of the Seminoles by Mary McNeer
51    Old Ironsides, the Fighting Constitution by Harry Hansen
52    The Mississippi Bubble by Thomas B. Costain
53    Kit Carson and the Wild Frontier by Ralph Moody
54    Robert E. Lee and the Road to Honor by Hodding Carter
55    Guadalcanal Diary by Richard Tregaskis
56    Commodore Perry and the Opening of Japan by Ferdinanad Kuhn
57    Davy Crockett by Stewart H. Holbrook
58    Clara Barton, Founder of the American Red Cross by Helen Boylston
59    The Story of San Francisco by Charlotte Jackson
60    Up the Trail from Texas by J. Frank Dobie
61    Abe Lincoln: Log Cabin to White House by Sterling North
62    The Story of D-Day: June 6, 1944 by Bruce Bliven, Jr.
63    Rogers’ Rangers and the French and Indian War by Bradford Smith
64    The Greatest Showman: The Life of P.T. Barnum by Joe Bryan III
65    Sequoyah, Leader of the Cherokees by Alice Marriott
66    Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys by Slater Brown
67    Wyatt Earp, U.S. Marshall by Stewart H Holbrook
68    The Early Days of the Automobiles by Elizabeth Janeway
69    The Witchcraft of Salem Village by Shirley Jackson
70    The West Point Story by Colonel Red Reeder
71    George Washington, Frontier Colonel Sterling North
72    The Texas Rangers by Will Henry
73    Buffalo Bill’s Great Wild West Show by Walter Havighurst
74    Evangeline and the Acadians by Robert Tallant
75    The Story of the Secret Service by Ferdinand Kuhn
76    Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too! By Stanley Young
77    America’s First World War: General Pershing and the Yanks by Henry Castor
78    The Doctors Who Conquered Yellow Fever by Ralph Nading Hill
79    Remember the Alamo! By Robert Penn Warren
80    Andrew Carnegie and the Age of Steel by Katherine B. Shippen
81    Geronimo: Wolf of the Warpath by Ralph Moody
82    The Story of the Paratroops by George Weller
83    The American Revolution by Bruce Bliven
84    The Story of the Naval Academy by Felix Riesenberg, Jr.
85    Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr by Anna Erskine
86    Stonewall Jackson by Jonathan Daniels
87    The Battle for the Atlantic by Jay Williams
88    The First Transatlantic Cable by Adele Gutman Nathan
89    The Story of the U.S. Air Force by Robert Loomis
90    The Swamp Fox of the Revolution by Stewart H. Holbrook
91    Heroines of the Early West by Nancy Wilson Ross
92    The Alaska Gold Rush by May McNeer
93    The Golden Age of Railroads by Stwart H. Holbrook
94    From Pearl Harbor to Okinawa by Bruce Bliven, Jr.
95    The Copper Kings of Montana by Marian T. Poole
96    Great American Fighter Pilots of World War II by Robert Loomis
97    The Story of the U. S. Coast Guard by Eugene Rachlis
98    William Penn: Quaker Hero by Hildegarde Dolson
99    John F. Kennedy and PT 109 by Richard Tregaskis
100  The Story of Oklahoma by Lon Tinkle
101  Americans into Orbit: The Story of Project Mercury by Gene Gurney
102  The Story of Submarines by George Weller
103   The Seabees of World War II by Edmund Castillo
104   The U. S. Border Patrol by Clement Hellyer
105   The Flying Tigers by John Toland
106   The U. S. Frogmen of World War II by Wyatt Blassingame
107   Women of Courage by Dorothy Nathan
108   Dwight D. Eisenhower by Malcom Moos
109   Disaster at Johnstown, the Great Flood by Hildegarde Dolson
110   The Story of Thomas Alva Edison by Margaret Cousins
111   Medal of Honor Heroes by Colonel Red Reeder
112   From Casablanca to Berlin by Bruce Blevin, Jr.
113   Young Mark Twain and the Mississippi by Harnett T. Kane
114   The Battle of the Bulge by John Toland
115   The Story of the Thirteen Colonies by Clifford Lindsey Alderman
116   Combat Nurses of World War II by Wyatt Blassingame
117   Walk in Space: The Story of Project Gemini by Gene Gurney
118   The Battle for Iwo Jima by Robert Leckie
119   Midway, Battle for the Pacific by Captain Edmund L. Castillo
120   Medical Corps Heroes of World War II by Wyatt Blassingame
121   Flat Tops: The Story of Aircraft Carriers by Edmund L. Castillo
122   The Mysterious Voyage of Captain Kidd by A. B. C.Whipple