Friday, November 7, 2014

Weekly Homeschool Wrap-Up: The One With the Thanksgiving Books 11/7

Good Friday to you, my friends. I made it through days and days of migraine in what I hope was my hormones' last hurrah. I'm forty-eight and a half...more than ready for my hormones to take their expected life rest. To finally be rid of the migraines I've had since age 26 would be a miracle. The medicines out there just don't seem to alter the course of hormonally-induced migraine.

But on to our homeschool, which must go on, no matter how mom is feeling...

If you're only interested in the Thanksgiving books featured in this post, scroll down to that, the last section. Enjoy!

The boys, ages 11 and 12, are reading Archimedes and the Door of Science, Theras and His Town, Story of the World Vol. 1 (Ancient Times), and Usborne's Encyclopedia of World History.

Synopsis: (Student review, which was the best available on this book) This book is set in ancient Greece, in two towns, Athens and Sparta. Athens is a beautiful city, with fine art, architecture, and music. Sparta is a small town with unadorned buildings, little art, and no music. In the beginning of the book, Theras, a young Athenian boy, lives a happy childhood with his family in Athens. He goes to school, where he learns to write and sing, and does athletics every day. One day Theras' father, Pheidon, is called to war far away from Athens, and he departs, leaving his family behind. Everything is fine for a few weeks, until they receive a distressing message from cousin Metion that Pheidon is lost at war. Theras' mother is forced to sell the house, and Theras is sent to Sparta to live with a distant relative.

In Sparta, Theras is made to live as a Spartan boy, separated from his parents, and trained as a soldier. After a year of this life, Theras wishes urgently to go home and live his old Athenian life. Eventually, Theras flees from Sparta with another boy, Abas, who also wishes to go. Theras and Abas must then endure many perils in the wilderness road to Athens, just to be free.

Theras and His Town is excellent. This book has suspense and excitement aplenty, with difficulties for Theras, who is brave and loyal. The book also has plenty of historic information about Greece, Athens, and Sparta. (This book review was written by a 6th grade, 11 year old Calvert School student, and published by his Mom.)

My Notes: This book was so engrossing that both my boys were sorry to see it end! Excellent adventure and suspense with a clean, wholesome feel.

Synopsis: (Homeschool mom's review on Amazon): I just got done reading this aloud to my homeschooled 6th grade twins. What a treasure! The author weaves together mathematical and scientific principles into a delightful story format. My kids had no trouble understanding the well-illustrated concepts.
We used this book in our unit study on Ancient Greece. It just so happened, that during the reading, our Science lesson was on the six simple machines, a few of which Archimedes was the founder! As if all this isn't enough, my children took away with them an interesting outlook. We take the principles such as the center of gravity, buoyancy, pi, exponents, all that we know about geometry, etc. for granted. It's so much a part of our lives. This book helped us to imagine a time when these concepts were yet to be uncovered, an exciting time in the development of applied science and technology. It also helped us see Archimedes as a real man, and not just another boring scientist to learn about.
Even though my kids are homeschooled, they moan and groan about their work just like any other kids. This book was still able to capture them. It was a great selection that complemented our studies very well, and was a good investment of time and money.

My notes: My boys find this far better than they imagined, given the non-fiction genre. Sonlight knows how to choose them, thank the Lord. They make my job so much easier and pleasant. There's never a fight about any of the reading they're assigned.

Publisher SynopsisThis first book in the four-volume narrative history series for elementary students will transform your study of history. The Story of the World has won awards from numerous homeschooling magazines and readers' polls—over 150,000 copies of the series in print!
What terrible secret was buried in Shi Huangdi's tomb? Did nomads like lizard stew? What happened to Anansi the Spider in the Village of the Plantains? And how did a six-year-old become the last emperor of Rome?

Told in a straightforward, engaging style that has become Susan Wise Bauer's trademark, The Story of the World series covers the sweep of human history from ancient times until the present. Africa, China, Europe, the Americas—find out what happened all around the world in long-ago times. This first revised volume begins with the earliest nomads and ends with the last Roman emperor. Newly revised and updated, The Story of the World, Volume 1 includes maps, a new timeline, more illustrations, and additional parental aids. This read-aloud series is designed for parents to share with elementary-school children. Enjoy it together and introduce your child to the marvelous story of the world's civilizations.

Each Story of the World volume provides a full year of history study when combined with the Activity Book, Audiobook, and Tests—each available separately to accompany each volume of TheStory of the World Text Book. Volume 1 Grade Recommendation: Grades 1-5. Illustrated throughout with black-and-white drawings and maps

My Notes: The boys still love Story of the World and tell me "it's a great book and a great author." They read it on their own. I have yet to buy the tests, but I'm thinking about it. The read-alone age range is higher than the age-range given in the publisher's review, in my opinion. We do not use this as a stand-alone history book. Sonlight supplements it with more non-fiction, and with historical fiction.

In science the boys are reading Evolution: The Grand Experiment, and Cool Stuff 2.0 and How It Works.

In the interest of time, I'll feature the rest of the boys' books another week.

Girls' School News: Things are going smoothly with the girls' schooling. They both enjoy All About Reading, and Beth, age 5, loves to read her stories over and over, just to feel that phenomenal "I can read!" feeling.

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They're looking forward to their science experiment today, and also enjoying the read alouds and non-fiction history and science books from Sonlight Core B. We use their history/geography and read-aloud selections, but not the reading books, except the Dr. Seuss books as supplements. Right now they are learning from Usborne Peoples of the World, and Missionary Stories with the Millers. In Sonlight science B (ages 6-8), they are learning from The Usborne World of Animals, The Usborne Book of Science Activities Vol. 1, and See How It's Made.

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Thanksgiving Picture Books to Share

See the page on my blog "Thanksgiving Picture Books" to view the 9 titles I shared last year.

This year I found more wonderful books, most of which you can get at your public library. Some are older titles, but if your children's section has a holiday or Thanksgiving section, you will probably find them there:

An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott (first published 1881)

Publisher SynopsisThanksgiving morning is here, and the Bassett family's cozy kitchen is filled with the hustle and bustle of the holiday. But this year something is different: Tilly, Prue, and their brothers and sisters have been left in charge of everything from the roasted turkey to the apple slump. They tie on their aprons and step into the kitchen, but are they really up for the challenge of cooking a Thanksgiving feast?

In this stunning new edition of Louisa May Alcott's classic holiday tale, James Bernardin's joyous illustrations bring the spirit of a truly old-fashioned Thanksgiving to vibrant life.

My Notes: Don't miss this one! Heartwarming, fun, delicious, and beautifully written.

Thanksgiving With Me by Margaret Willey (published 1998)

Publisher Synopsis:

Sit down, Mother, and tell me again. When are my uncles coming? When?

Pressed against the windowsill in breathless anticipation, a little girl cannot wait for her beloved uncles to arrive for Thanksgiving dinner. She begs her mother to tell her about each and every one of them. What follows is a lyrical duet culminating in the whole house rollicking with music, dance, song, and a joyous feast. And just as they finish their reverie, who should that be coming around the bend? A holiday tale perfectly suited to any child who has waited impatiently for the arrival of favorite relatives to turn a special day info one of true thanksgiving.

My Notes: Cute, heartwarming, nostalgic, and I love the rhythmic verse.

Food and Recipes of the Pilgrims (Cooking Throughout American History) by George Erdosh
published 1997

SynopsisChock full of recipes with step-by-step directions for kids to follow, this series is a unique way for kids to eat their way through American history. Many modern historians think the history of mankind is not to be found solely in the decisions of rulers and battles won or lost, but in the lives of everyday people. Looking closely at the environment, economics, eating habits, and favorite foods of our American forebears teaches us volumes about their world and ours.When the seeds that the Pilgrims brought with them from England refused to grow in American soil, the settlers turned to the Native Americans for guidance. Students will learn the true spirit of Thanksgiving as they make the baked butternut squash and Pilgrim's honey apples that fed our hungry forefathers and mothers.

My Notes: This is also an engaging primary history book, which I'm not sure is evident in the above synopsis. We will be trying several of the recipes! Author George Erdosh wrote several in this series, including Revolutionary War cooking, Civil War cooking, Native American Cooking, and Thirteen Colonies Cooking.

A Thanksgiving Turkey by Julian Scheer  published 2001               

School Library Journal SynopsisK-Gr 6 In this picture book, a 13-year-old and his mother move to his grandfather's farm in rural Virginia. Reluctant at first, the boy adapts to country life, finding there is much to learn from his granddad. Determined to track and shoot an old tom turkey that had been a worthy adversary for years, the grandfather takes the boy hunting. The seasons pass and they are never able to spot the bird, just hear him. One fateful day at Thanksgiving time, they corner the old turkey with his long beard, only to discover the joy in letting him fly free. After all, he had been in the woods as long as the old man and deserved their respect. Soft, watercolor illustrations and a story gently and respectfully told in the first person evoke memories of a time past (when a hard-earned dollar and eighty cents bought a fat turkey). It is a tale well told, reminiscent of sitting and listening to the old folks swap stories at a family gathering.

Publisher's Weekly SynopsisA 13-year-old boy and his grandfather spend months hunting down a wild turkey in the early-morning darkness in this nostalgic and affecting story. But when they finally come face-to-face with their prey, the grandfather cannot bring himself to shoot it. Scheer and Himler (previously paired for By the Light of the Captured Moon) simultaneously develop the boy's relationship with his grandfather and with the woods. The story smoothly incorporates facts about turkeys' roosting habits, while the sketchy but realistic watercolors evoke the enchantment of the predawn hours. Ages 4-8.

Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving Edited with reflections by Katherine Paterson (published 2013)

Publisher SynopsisNewbery Medal winner Katherine Paterson and cut-paper artist Pamela Dalton give fans of all ages even more to be thankful for with Giving Thanks, a special book about gratitude. Katherine Paterson's meditations on what it means to be truly grateful and Pamela Dalton's exquisite cut-paper illustrations are paired with a collection of over 50 graces, poems, and praise songs from a wide range of cultures, religions, and voices. The unique collaboration between these two extraordinary artists flowers in this important and stunningly beautiful reflection on the act of giving thanks.

Synopsis: (Booklist Review): As they did in the beautiful Brother Sun, Sister Moon (2011), Newbery medalist Paterson and cut-paper artist extraordinaire Dalton combine their considerable talents to bring to young people the concept of giving thanks. Paterson offers several meditations on ways she experienced thanksgiving, gratitude, and love throughout her life. Following each are several pages of poems, hymns, and snippets of praise songs from various cultures and religions, allowing readers to experience emotions and practices through many voices. Dalton, who is a practitioner of the early-nineteenth-century American paper-cutting technique called scherenschnitte (“scissor cuts”), has used paper “antiqued in a coffee solution, ironed, and illuminated with watercolor.” She fashions wondrous garlands, lattices hiding birds and rabbits, individual flowers and butterflies, and frames housing families reading books. The considerable thought to design—from substantial buff-colored pages to the placement of the art—is balanced by an equal appreciation for the works selected. Wonderful to have on hand for Thanksgiving, this is a book to be picked up throughout the year and savored and discussed. Grades 4-7

My Notes: I'm still not sure what I think of Katherine Paterson's work. Bridge to Terabithia is awfully heavy and sad. Jacob Have I Loved is also somewhat controversial with its grown-up topics. Her work is extensive (100 books) and good, but the selections for older students often require a lot of parental guidance. This selection is good for giving children a sense that gratitude has been important for all time, for all cultures. It's an essential human mindset that enriches life, despite our trials. God also commands it!

More Thanksgiving books coming next week!

Have a wonderful week, friends. Thank you for reading here.

Weekly Wrap-Up


Beth said...

Thank you for reminding me that I need to pull out my Thanksgiving books. I have a few. One of my teammates here insists that I make an American Thanksgiving as she feels it is important for the kids. I think she also wants an invite for the pumpkin pie.

Christine said...

She knows your pies will be top-notch, I'm willing to bet. :) Wish I could cook with you this Thanksgiving, Beth. I bet that would be a blast! Love to you.

Tesha Papik said...

Love the thanksgiving book recommendations!!! We also are enjoying Story of The World! I am sorry to hear about the headache have you tried any natural remedies? I love this guy he is a Christian!

Christine said...

Hi Tesha,
Good to hear from you! Yes, I have tried various vitamins and supplements, to no avail. Everyone has a unique headache profile and mine seems to be all hormone-related, and rebound related. Both are separate problems but the frequency of the hormone headache leads to the rebound, which are still migraine attacks if you let them go.

Hope you like some of these books and glad you are also loving the Story of the World!