Saturday, July 17, 2010

What we're reading and other schoolish things

This summer has been a mish mosh of 3R's, swim team and just taking it easy.  We have so many different books going in our house at the moment, I can't keep them all straight!  What a problem to have, eh? :)

My oldest dd is finishing up Apologia General Science and is doing remarkably well considering we've never been overly structured w/ our science curriculum and I'm having her going through it double time to boot.  It will make Physical Science, taken at the pace intended, so much better.  Plus, she'll be doing it alongside a neighbor friend. Labs are always more fun when done with someone else.

My next three are finishing up Zoology 2.  We have one chapter left and we've been delayed for the last two weeks! ACK.  This is our second time through this book, the first time was several years ago when we were doing it w/ another homeschooling family.  We never finished the book then either! We will get this last chapter done this week!  The kids picked Zoo 2, out of all the other  Exploring Creation with series as they still love the ocean.  This by far was their favorite book by Jeanne Fulbright. Edited to add, we finished!  Yay.  What a fun romp through the ocean.  Love Jeanne's books.

They're still working on their respective levels in MUS, plugging along almost every day.  My 2nd dd has been on a swim team and has been pretty wiped out when she comes home from practice.  Math is not her strong area anyway, then add in the exhaustion of getting up early to swim and the actual physical exercise swimming takes, she's wiped out when she gets home.  So, her math has been neglected a little bit.  That's okay, the experience she's getting on the team is worth taking a little longer to get through her math book. Edited to add, she's finished with swimming and we're back to daily math. She's so thrilled! ;)

We've been doing art study this year using Picturing America.  Picturing America is a fabulous FREE resource funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.  The prints are beautiful reproductions and the teachers manual is an incredible, rich spiral bound book that gives the background on the artist, the time period, provides detailed questions for the students at varying grade levels and provides other ways to make connections to the print, whether it be through literary, history, art, industry, etc.  There is a list of optional topics you can use to take the study even further if your students have an interest (or if you're interested ;) ).  Truly fabulous resource that my kids have been loving.  They look forward to each new week as a new print appears on the wall. :)  That reminds me, I need to switch out the print tonight!

Throw in some copywork and handwriting practice and continued phonics lessons for my 7 year old, and that pretty much sums up our 3Rs.

 My post title should probably say, "what I'm reading" as this seems to be a list that is mainly things I've been reading.  A few of the books the kids are reading along or being read to, but for the most part, it's me doing the reading.   Good thing I like to read.

The Literature selections we've been reading have been a lot of fun.  Some have been really challenging while others have been a nice, easy read.  One reason we have so many different books going is we're involved in several bookclubs! I coordinate a couple of them, so I've been trying to make my life a little easier and have the books overlap.  It works sometimes, but not every month. :)

In June, for our Mother Daughter bookclub, we read Each Little Bird that Sings, by Deborah Wiles.  Each Little Bird that Sings is a roller coaster book of emotions.  You feel the main characters ups and downs as though you were there right with her.  It's a bittersweet story that doesn't give you a sugary sweet Disney ending.  It's about life and loss, sorrow and laughter.  I thought the book did an excellent job introducing difficult subject material that allows the reader to feel and sort through the emotions yet doesn't wallow too deep in the morose. A perfect book for 5 grade on up to explore some more difficult aspects of life, which includes death.

Our Mother Son bookclub for June read, Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater.  We had read this book several years ago and laughed out loud at the antics of Mr. Popper and his penguins.  This time around, we laughed just as loud and the story was as fun as the first time we read it.  Truly enjoyable book that everyone should experience.

My three oldest dd's and I are also in a neighborhood girls/moms bookclub.  In June we read The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald.  My girls had already read this book as part of their homeschool curriculum (which means, I read this book three different years! LOL) so we didn't reread for the bookclub this month.  The book is so well written and the characters are so vivid, my girls remembered the story as though they had just read it that week.  Excellent book with so much allegory, it's definitely a keeper and one to be shared through the generations.  George MacDonald was a wonderful story teller. I highly recommend checking out some of his books.  You won't be disappointed.

For July, we are reading The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry with our Mother Daughter group.  It's a sweet story, although my oldest thought it was "weird".  This book was a wild card when I threw it in our line up for our bookclub.  It will be interesting to see what the other girls and their moms thought of the book when we meet in a few weeks.  

Our boys/Moms group is reading The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright.  This is the first book in the Melendy series.  We read a few of these books in our Mother Daughter bookclub several years ago and the girls (and moms) liked it so much, I thought I'd give it a try with our boys group.  The Melendy series is a great, wholesome group of books about a family that lives life to the fullest, gets into adventures together and loves being together.  Great books for all ages.

Our neighborhood bookclub is also reading about the Melendy's, only we're reading all four books, The Saturdays, The Four Story Mistake, Spiderweb for Two and Then There Were Five, this summer, meeting in August (maybe it's September, I don't remember now!) to discuss the 4 stories.  I need to get busy rereading those books. :)

My oldest will be starting in a new bookclub in the fall w/ teen girls.  We're leading the first book meeting in September and we'll be discussing, The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A tale of chivalry and daring exploits of two knights.  I've only begun reading the book.  So far, it's good. :)

I'm also reading through several other books my oldest will be reading next year for school.  I've read The Tripods by John Christopher.  This is a science fiction trilogy set in the future when the earth has been invaded by Tripods. Just what the Tripods are and what they are doing here on Earth, is discovered through the three books.  Not being a huge reader of science fiction, I actually enjoyed these short, quick reads. I've also read the first two books in C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy.  I don't know how I've missed reading these books for this long.  I loved his Narnia series and a few other adult books of his that I've read, I don't know why I put off reading his Space Trilogy for so long.  These books will be one of the months selections for my oldest daughters bookclub starting in September. I'm trying to read the books before she does so I know what she's reading. In this case, I'm glad I did. :)

I've also read some living science books that I'd like my oldest to read that correspond to the subjects and people discussed in  her General Science book.  I found a list at Simply Charlotte Mason of book suggestions to go along with Apologia's science books.  Even though, in my opinion, Apologia text books aren't really text booky (my word :) ), it is nice to have some background, living books to go along with the science.  You can check out their recommendations for living science books here.  So far I've read, A Piece of the Mountain: The Story of Blaise Pascal, by  Joyce McPherson. A Piece of the Mountain follows Pascals life from a young child through his death.  The author details his upbringing, schooling, his faith and his life work.  I found it to be a really interesting story and enjoyed learning more about the man behind the name.  The Fossil Book , by Gary Parker. I haven't read in it's entirety but I have enjoyed the pictures! LOL The pictures are beautiful, very detailed and clear.  This book is from an unapologetic creationist view point.  If that's not your cup of tea, you probably won't enjoy reading the book but you will enjoy the beautiful photography.  I just started, Galen, and the Gateway to Medicine, by Jeanne Bendick.  This is another living history book that follows Galen from his early years in Roman occupied Greece through his informative boyhood years, where he did Geometry for fun, into his adulthood.  Along Came Galileo, also by Jeanne Bendick, is a book that my daughter read last year for school.  I started reading it last year but didn't finish.  I'll have to pick it back up when I'm done w/ Galen and finish before my next daughter starts reading it in the fall.  

My degree is in Biology.  I learned about these men only through their great accomplishments.  I never knew anything beyond the science they were known for.  I have found it really fascinating to learn more about their backgrounds and their lives.  It makes the science seem more real and accessible somehow.  Definitely books to check out if you want a little more info on the men who we still follow in our science and math books from centuries ago.

On a different vein, I've also been reading, For the Children's Sake, by Susan Schaeffer Macauley.  I've had this book on my shelf for years but never cracked the spine. Big mistake!  It took my thinking through our school year for next year and possibly changing our educational "philosophy" to open up this book.  I've been highlighting ever since.  It is quite a gem and really explains the Charlotte Mason philosophy really well.  Even if Charlotte Mason isn't your thing, I think you'll enjoy reading about  Susan Schaeffer Macauley's families journey as they found the key to unlocking their children's potential and their natural thirst for learning.  Definitely principles from this book could be applied to anyone's educational philosophy plan.

I've also been reading through, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, by Francis Chan  I haven't gotten too far, since I've been reading all these other books and I do have to sleep a few hours a night ;), but I hope to pick it up again soon.  It's been recommended to me by so many different people, I thought I'd give it a try. 

A fun book I read that was recommended by a friend was Notes from the Underwire, by Quinn Cummings.  Oh my, what a good writer!  She makes carpool lanes, hairballs and running into plate glass windows hilarious.  If you are offended by some mild crude humor or an occasional swear word, you'll want to skip this book but if you're not, this is a definite fun, light book that will have you laughing out loud! Perfect for summer reading.

Lastly, I finally read a book that I'd been hearing great things about from many sources,  The Help, by Kathryn Stockett.  A fabulous first novel for this author that is riveting, sad and humorous.  It's a page turner for sure.  Once I started the book, I couldn't put it down.  Much to my childrens delight, they had a day of doing pretty much whatever they wanted as I holed up in my room reading page after page.  You are really drawn into the characters lives and want to find out what happens to them.  Another great summer book.  Just make sure to clear your calendar before you start. :)

That sums up what I've been reading so far this summer!  Summer is only half way over, so I still have plenty of leisure reading time left.  The bulk of my upcoming reading will be to continue prereading my oldest daughters books for next year.  I finished ordering most of the ones she'll need for her first term and they are beginning to roll up to our house daily. :)  She has some great books on tap for next year and I'm looking forward to digging into them before our next school year starts.

What all have you been reading this summer?  Any must reads I should know about?


Nikki said...

Whew! You all are reading a lot of great things! "For the Children's Sake" is one of my favorite books!

Denise said...

From the Homeschool Crew here~ I just realized I have not come across your blog yet! I am now following your!
I love the look of your blog & looking forward to reading more posts.

We also use Apologia.

Books~ my 13 yr. old daughter & 11 yr. old son Love the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. Great books! Sort of like Lord of the Rings but with animals! LOL
They are well written and quite deep

Jen U. said...

I loved reading this post! Thanks for sharing everything. For the Children's Sake is one of my favorite books on homeschooling. I haven't read Crazy Love but have it on my "to read" list. I am glad to hear that you are liking it too. By the way- Bryan is mailing your book Radical tomorrow. Sorry it has taken me several weeks to get it in the mail to you!