Thursday, April 24, 2014

Old School Monday, Next Week!

Hello everyone!

It's our April Old School Monday, and we have a very fun theme for our gathering:

It's the Old School Monday Show & Tell Day!

 When: Monday, April 28, noon-2:30 p.m.
 Where: the usual downstairs classrooms there at Vintage Faith Church

Your children are each invited to bring one remotely educational thing to share with the rest of us.  It could be a musical piece they want to play, or something they have made, or a new skill they have acquired.  (Would prefer we not show off new toys or favorite objects, if we can--unless they have historical value!) Moms, this can also be a great time to encourage your kids to wrap up a project or assignment--for some of our kids getting to share to the group might be good incentive!

And Moms, you too are invited to bring something to share!  Last month Ali brought some great historical books to show--this time, in keeping with "book week," let's each bring one book that we really like. It can be educational, or just a good piece of writing!

We will definitely have story time too!  If any of you would like to read a story aloud to the group, just let me know!  Otherwise, I will cry my way through something good, I am sure. ; )

Questions or comments?  Please leave them in the comments section to this post, so that all may benefit.

Book Week Pt 2

Just for fun, I thought I would share with you all the second, and even more fun, part of our Book Week: reading, reading, reading!

We do not own many pieces of furniture (understandable in a house our size!) but we have two big cherry bookcases we bought when we first got married.  One faces the front door, and holds more "school-y" books.  (I'll have to show you in another post.) This one faces the living room, and holds mostly fiction, with some non-fiction picture books mixed in. 

Eldest girl asked a month ago if we could spend Spring Break reading through the bottom two shelves of this bookshelf--the favorite picture books she doesn't really get much chance to read anymore, but which still give so much pleasure.  I thought that was a great goal! 

These are the two shelves we are reading through this week--most of our picture book collection.

This is starting at the right of the top shelf, which has picture books geared to a slightly older child (or the taller books that don't fit on the bottom shelf). Normally I enjoy keeping the shelves somewhat organized first by genre, then by author, with size variables accounted for--I know, I know--but with the crazy reading going on this week, they are currently a happy, disheveled mess.

Favorite titles from this first pic:


The Biggest Bear

The Scrambled States of America

Small Beauties

A Child's Calendar

This version of Snow White

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble


Yes, I am such a book nerd that I am going to show you ALL the books. Some of them are special friends, which is why I'm introducing you by name.

The Tale of Three Trees

The Fourteen Bears Summer and Winter

The Long and Dangerous Journey


A Time to Keep

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch

Of course if you no longer have kids in this stage of life, you will be glazing over at this point. But if you love books, or memories of when your kids were young, or if you just want to snoop at my bookshelves just like you would if you came over sometime, here you go!

The Velveteen Rabbit (I'm not sure my edition is the best out there--so many versions of this story have gorgeous illustrations!--so I didn't link it)

This version of Little Red Riding Hood. I'm a fan of this author's work, and have quite a few on the shelf  by her.

This edition of Beauty and the Beast (alas, out of print and highly collectible--sounds like the affordable paperback is a shortened version)

The Maggie B

A Fairy Went a Marketing

Hiding over against the bookshelf wall to the right are the fragile antique books my mother has passed down to us from her own childhood. I keep them tucked away behind Stuart Little just so little hands don't grab them automatically. Out of sight, out of mind. ; )

The Kitchen Knight

The Water Hole

Now we get to the bottom shelf, with the books geared more for the earlier readers, and the books shorted in height.

George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends

This version of Mother Goose


The Giant Jam Sandwich

The Adventures of Mole & Troll

The Little House

Cookies: Bite-Sized Lessons

Norman the Doorman

Mama, Do You Love Me?

The Marble Cake Cat

As you can probably guess, a lot of these books are from my childhood.  : )

The Frog and Toad Treasury

Let's Look at the Jungle

The Fire Cat

The Best Loved Doll

Bears in the Night

The last books on the shelf to the right are not in the picture because they are large and have to lay on their sides--mainly Smiley's collection of Richard Scarry books. Those are favorites of mine just because they occupy him for good lengths of time while I'm helping his sisters with school. : )

Child of Faerie, Child of Earth

The Hat

Eloise Wilkins Treasury

Some of these books made me smile just reading the titles.  : )  I am only specifically mentioning my favorite favorite of those on the shelves.  But all the books on the shelves have to meet at least two out of my four criteria for what is worth the precious in-house real estate:

* The story has to be well-written.
* There should be something the child learns from the story, or it should broaden the child's mind, or ignite imagination in some specific way.  In other words, it has a greater meaning beyond the story itself.
* The illustrations should be exemplary.
* Or the book should be especially nostalgic for me, or someone special gave it to us.
* Bonus points if it makes me smile or cry every time I read it.

I have a loathing for pointless stories and silliness for silliness's sake.  I abhor twaddle.  It makes me so sad when an excellent story is printed with lame, uninspired artwork.  Yes, I'm a book snob.  But that does not mean I'm too picky--there are some books I love that have very silly elements (The Giant Jam Sandwich is a prime example)  but there is something about them that is clever and whimsical too. And condition does not bother me either, as long as pages are not falling out (and I can't just tape them back in) or the book is molding--what's inside the book is way more important than the outside. Often, the best books are no longer in print, so I am perfectly willing to put up with ragged old books if need be! 

There are a lot more excellent books on our shelves I'm not specifically mentioning because they are considered childhood classics (like Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, and Where the Wild Things Are, and Madeline's Rescue.)  I just wanted to share with you some of the titles that you might not be familiar with. 

I also have a LOT more books in bins under the house. Most of them are more educational in nature, so have been separated and stored according to subject.  But there are also just a lot of good books that were not *quite* worth the in-house shelf space, but which I can't quite part with.  And a bin of broken books that require serious mending, but which I am sorry to part with (or can't replace). And a box of books to take to add to our little homeschool library we are starting for all of you. And a box of books to eventually give away. Ahem.

Have I mentioned that I love good books?

Happy Reading everyone!

(And if you have a favorite favorite picture book you want to recommend, please share it in the comments!)

Or, even more fun, share pics of YOUR bookshelves!

(If anyone likes this post, I will work my way through the rest of the books too. : )

Book Week Pt 1: The FINAL Book of Months post

OK, so it is technically a school week. But mentally I'm finishing Spring Break!  So in our house we are having a relaxing week, with a theme: Book Week. 

The first part of Book Week is trying to finish up our Book of Months projects. Each of my girls is making one. The books may end up in the heirloom category--certainly for the amount of time the girls are spending on each highly detailed page of illustration!  Even though we started this project about 16 months ago, the girls are FAR from being done. I'd say they are only 1/3 of the way through their illustrations, with even less of the writing done.  This is with the project getting at least 30 minutes of work almost every school week since!  I am so glad my girls are engaging with the project so fully, and that they are making such meaningful illustrations--but I refuse to let the project go on another year!  Esp. because they have grown as people and artists over the course of the time we have worked on the project, so that they have started being dissatisfied with the drawings they made earlier and have then discarded them and started over.  A fine artistic choice, but one that could well lead to this becoming a perpetual book project!  So, forcing my children to labor over their drawings for hours at a time is the first goal of Book Week.

(Perhaps it is appropriate that we just finished learning about illuminated manuscripts and the monks that made them--the children can at least be thankful they have a warm room to work in, they don't have to grind up their own coloring agents, and they are allowed to speak while working. Heck, they can even suck on some Easter candy while they work. Whatever will keep them happily working on it!)

I hope those of you who are also working on a Book of Months project will have success motivating your kiddos to complete it in time!  Don't forget--if they have it finished by next Monday they can come show it off at our Old School Monday gathering!  That might be helpful incentive for some of you. : )

Originally I said I would provide materials for those who wanted to have a "book binding" party on Monday. But Shelley was the only one interested--and Shelley, you are WAY more crafty than I am (judging by what I've seen on facebook of your first year homeschooling ; ) so I will not plan on us "binding" as a group--instead, I'll just tell you how we are doing ours, and then you can run with that idea or do whatever else you think suits your project.

There's basically one super easy way I have been putting together books for our Vintage Homeschool projects:

--go to an arts supply store like Palace Arts and look at their selection of art paper pads (the various kinds intended for different mediums, with different weights and textures).  Choose the paper texture and weight that you like, keeping in mind a heavier paper will make a sturdier back page to glue your child's artwork onto.

--Affix the artwork onto the pages as you and your child see fit. *Just be sure to leave a good left-hand margin for the binding.

--Use a heavy-duty hole punch to make holes in each page.  You can make as few or many as you like (or have hand-strength for). If you want a lot of holes, then you could make a pretty "lace-up" or "sewn" binding with yarn or ribbon.  If your finished book pages will be vertical, I would recommend at least four connection spots.  If the finished book pages will be read horizontals, three or even two holes might suffice, depending upon where they are placed.

--You can use metal clips from Palace to hold the book pages together, as we have done in the past for our group book projects--this will make a very loose book, great for holding open on a lap.  Or you can use ribbon or yarn and just tie bows--just don't tie them too tightly or the book pages will have difficulty turning easily.

There you have it!  

Finally, you have two ways to get your book to the Author's Fair:

--Give it to me on Monday at our gathering

--Take it to the Author's Fair and deliver to the Ocean Grove Table (usually to the right of the center fountain, if you were coming in the main front mall doors).

I can't wait to see what your kids contribute to the Author's Fair, either one of our group projects or something they have done on their own!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Author's Fair 2014

The Old School Mondays kids have a long standing tradition of collaborative book writing--and the books we have made together and presented at the annual Author's Fair have been some of my kids' favorite projects!

This year we have two book projects going on, for anyone who would like to jump in and participate:  The Book of Months, and the "What Is It?" Book of Nature Riddles.  It is not too late for you and your kids to do either or both!

The Book of Months features your family traditions and rhythms over the course of one year. All you need is one illustration and one page of description for each month. As always, you modify the project as needed to fit your child's abilities, so there can be as much or as little writing and parental involvement as necessary.  Click on this link to read all the details for this project.

The Book of Nature Riddles is one page front and back; the front presents the riddle, and the back has the illustration and words that reveal the answer.  Click here to read all the details for this project. This project involves more parental guidance up front--but the process can be fun, and once they get the hang of it they might very well want to keep writing more!

(I recommend when you click on each project link that you read the posts from oldest to newest, so you can follow the logical progression more easily.)

If you would like to participate in the Book of Months, just jump on in to the fun!  All the info you need to make it happen is already up on the blog, except for the details about how to bind it, but that will come. You have more than 3 weeks for the project, and unless your children are uber-detailed and slightly obsessive illustrators (like mine are), that is plenty of time.  You are invited to bring your completed books to our April 28 Old School Monday gathering for show & tell!

If you would like to participate in the Book of Nature Riddles, please RSVP in the comments below, and I will then plan on us having a "book binding" activity for our April 28 Old School Monday (the Monday before the Author's Fair).  (I can also plan book binding for the Book of Months, if that is helpful--RSVP for that if you desire.)

Questions? Please ask them in the comments below so all may benefit from the discussion.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

It's the Old School Timeline Party--This Friday!

Becky and I are co-hosting this event, and we are excited.  Ever since last semester we have wanted to have a day where we would all get together and make a giant timeline in the gym--a fun visual experience to help all our kids get a better feel for where the events and people they have been studying fall in relationship with one another. 

What: The Old School Timeline Party
Where: upstairs classrooms, Children's Ministry Bldg., Vintage Faith Church
When: This Friday, April 11, noon-2:30.

We will meet up in the upstairs right-hand classrooms again for the first part, until most everyone has arrived. We will have circle time and do just a little sharing.  But most of the event we will spend in the gym--not goofing off this time, but presenting!

Each child who wants to should pick a person your family has learned about so far this year--or that the child can research in the next few days--and write a brief, first person narrative report that explains who the Important Person is, where and when he/she lived, and why he/she is important to history.

*This is not a hard assignment--you parents can take this idea and run with it to the extent you want to this week, making it fit your child's interest and abilities and your school schedule for the week.  It may remind some of you of our first Author's Fair project--as it should since we are using the same template as a starting point!  So this week, just have your children gather a few facts about this Important Person in History:


IT IS THE YEAR: (choose a date important to this person's role in history)

I LIVE: (give the location(s) important to this person's role in history)

I AM: (here is where you briefly tell the person's role, or job, or what was going on around him/her at this place/time in history, and/or what he/she was doing about it)



ONE THING I WANT EVERYONE TO KNOW IS: (talk with your kids about the beliefs and values of this person in relation to their role in history. Choose either a direct quotation of this person, or help your child summarize a belief or value that has come through in your studies.

Older kids can write more--that is up to you, parents, but every Important Person at least need to have accurate dates and places recorded.  When we all get together on Friday we will give an opportunity for each child to present his/her Important Person, and then we will figure out on the timeline we make where the person belongs.

*Any child who wants to participate is encouraged to do so!  Siblings can work on the same topic and present their findings together, or they can work individually on separate topics--you decide what works best for your family.

*Any child who wants to dress up as his or her Important Person is welcome to! 

This event is not a food party, so no need to bring any food items to share.  But as always, you are welcome to bring lunch for your family, or to eat before you come--whichever is easiest for your family!  But would you please remember to bring plates, napkins & cups for your family.  We're striving to make our gatherings as waste-free as possible. : )  Thank you!