inicio mail me! sindicaci;ón
The Genial Hearth
I’ve just put the kettle on, join me for a cuppa and a chat.

Archive for Books

Christmas Books

A Christmas Story by Brian Wildsmith is a pleasant (and visually appealing) retelling of the nativity story.
Under the Star by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Vlasta van Kampen is a Christmas counting book. This is well worth a repeat visit:-)

I don’t know that I’ll get the Story of Saint Nicholas by Mary Anne Kamols again, for a few years at least. Now that Puggle can read the last page for himself, I’d rather wait until he’s worked out the secret for himself (and by the time he has, I suspect we’ll have at least one more reader).

Pile of Books

For a number of years, I’ve read of the idea of wrapping up a pile of Christmas books for Advent. This year, I realised we had enough books to do it ourselves!
Pile of Books

It occurred to me that I didn’t ever get to Cygnet’s Advent calendar last year. So last night, before hanging the others’, I did some work on his. I finished it today:-)
Advent Calendars


It’s that time of year.
Time to start thinking about your books for the new school year, and for Christmas.
Two years ago, I discovered Book Depository—just after I’d ordered my books for the new year.
Last year, I discovered Booko—just after I’d done my book order for the year (although, given they didn’t include, it wouldn’t have been as useful as it is now!)
I wonder what I’ll discover after I’ve done my orders this year?:-)

But Booko… what’s so good about it?

First of all, it’s Australian, so everything is in $A.
Secondly, they don’t actually sell books, they’re an aggregator. You put in the book you want, and it will find lots of places that sell it (all the big online places, but also Dymocks, Angus and Robertson, Big W, and some of the smaller online stores, Readings, Glee, Mosaic.)
Thirdly, it lists it’s availability in order of price—including shipping costs!
Fourthly, if you are looking for more than one book, you can put them all in your cart, and it will tell you the best place to buy the whole lot… still taking shipping into account!

And you can set up multiple carts, and make them public or not (so you can use them as wishlists…)

So, how do I use it?

I’m in the middle of doing my orders. I’ve made most of the decisions, but that this stage have only ordered the Anzac Day books (I figured the same ones were appropriate for Remembrance Day, so I ordered them for that). As I found books (either using name or ISBN, depending on whether I wanted a particular edition or not, usually though, I work on finding the edition I want first), I added them to a cart. Mostly, the best buy was seeming to be from (as I’d expected), but when I started finding a number that were better from BetterWorld Books, I made a new cart (named appropriately, so I wouldn’t get confused!), and added them to that. I figure with the number I’m ordering, I’m happy to split it over two or three places.
Because the Anzac Day books are all Australian or New Zealand titles, they were unavailable from any of the big online stores. So I set up a cart for those (I didn’t give it a shop specific name though, because I wasn’t sure where I’d be ordering them).
Some of them ended up on multiple lists, because I had already added them to one when I realised it was worth making a new list. So it did mean I needed to be careful to go back and double check that I only had each book once!

You do then need to do another step of going to the specific sites and ordering the books. (If you only have one book in your cart, clicking on the shop link generally takes you to that book in that shop, so you just need to click order… but if you have multiple books it takes you to the homepage for the shop, and you need to go through and order each book separately. If you have a couple of tabs though, you can have booko in one, and the shop in the other and just click on each book in turn in booko which usually gives you the ISBN so you can search in the shop for it and press order. It is a little more work, but given how much it can save you, well worth it!)

(It’s also in beta for DVDs, although I haven’t found that quite as successful yet. The equivalent of ISBNs aren’t as widely used, so it’s harder to identify precisely what you’re after.)

Graphic Novels for Kids

Puggle loves Asterix:-) We have plans to start him on Tin Tin eventually. But I was really excited to read last year Melissa Wiley’s two posts from Comic-Con about Graphic Novels for kids:-) A discussion today reminded me to look them out, and I’m linking them here so I can find them more easily:-) She also posted about this year’s con here and here.

Taking Over the World

Puggle has had a plan for a while. He intends (with his friends, the oldest of whom is 8) to re-build the Roman Empire (he was very taken with our studies of Rome last year, Story of the World is wonderful:-) ).

Tonight, I asked him what he’d do when he had the Empire re-built. He told me, “Keep the Barbarians out, obviously… Of course, it might be rather hard, because it’s quite small.”

He then decided that it might be more sensible to take over the whole world. “But then people might try to kill me. I may need to ponder some more on this.”

(He’s also very taken with Asterix. He was asking earlier whether Julia Gillard would be carried around on a shield like Chief Vitalstatistix. When we said we didn’t really think so, he suggested Kevin Rudd probably would have… He seemed kind of disappointed that we didn’t think that was very likely either:-) )

ETA. Paddington has just told me the reason he intends to re-build the Roman Empire is so that Susan Wise Bauer [the author of the series] will write more books:-)


I just wanted to put in a plug for the AOCopywork list. If you’re doing copywork, and are reading any of the Ambleside Online book suggestions, you’ll find copywork already selected (there may still be a couple of books not done). (You will need to join to be able to access the copywork.) There are generally a couple of possible examples from each chapter (the examples are selected within fairly strict parametres… so if you’re reading it at a different level to the AO suggestion, it may not be as helpful… but if you are, they should be an appropriate length, and use appropriate grammar and vocabulary).
I joined a couple of years ago, and selected copywork for a couple of books (Swallows and Amazons, and Anne of Green Gables), thinking it was a way of contributing back to the homeschooling community who had already provided me with much food for thought:-) But until now, I haven’t used any… But Puggle has reached the stage where he’s got a grip on his letters, and is ready for something a bit more meaty—and we’ve just finished ‘Little House in the Big Woods’ (and he’s loved it!) which is one of the Year One suggestions:-) A perfect match:-)

Geography: France

First Monday: Location. (I’ve found a world map I’ll use, and just set him to find the country in the atlas, and identify it on the map)
First Tuesday: Flag.
First Wednesday: Language (I’m not sure what we’ll do here, because we’re already doing French every week).
First Thursday: Famous People (we’ll read from Claude Monet, A Picture Book of Louis Braille, Louis Braille.
First Friday: Music. (Folk songs/dancing and ‘culture’) Frére Jacques, Boules, Citron Presse, Croque Monsieur. The Marseillaise
Second Monday: Features. (Cities, Mountains, Rivers)
Second Tuesday: Animals.
Second Wednesday: Language (Once again, not sure what we’ll do here).
Second Thursday: Culture. (Currency, festivals, population, religion) More Boules:-)
Second Friday: Art/Craft. We’ll probably try painting in the style of one of the French schools.
Second Saturday: Food (will possibly be shifted around a bit as there’s a party in the way:-) ).

I’ll update the books once we work out which ones have actually been useful.

Geography: Burma

First Monday: Location. (I’ve found a world map I’ll use, and just set him to find the country in the atlas, and identify it on the map)
First Tuesday: Flag.
First Wednesday: Language (YouTube).
First Thursday: Animals.
First Friday: Music. (Folk songs/dancing)
First Saturday: Food. The Burmese Food Fete is running today, so we’ll go along with Grandad.
Second Monday: Features. (Cities, Mountains, Rivers) (I’ll give him a list of surrounding countries to colour particular colours).
Second Tuesday: Famous People (from Welcome to Myanmar).
Second Wednesday: Language.
Second Thursday: Culture (from Welcome to Myanmar. (Currency, festivals, population, religion)
Second Friday: Art/Craft. (from Welcome to Myanmar)
Second Sunday: Thingyan. BAWA is holding a celebration, so we’ll attend.

Welcome to Myanmar
Thailand and Myanmar

Geography: Thailand

First Monday: Location. (Once again, he’ll use the atlas to identify Thailand on a world map.)
First Tuesday: Flag.
First Wednesday: Language.
First Thursday: Animals.
First Friday: Music. (Folk songs/dancing) Some links from youTube are here.
Second Monday: Features. (Cities, Mountains, Rivers)
Second Tuesday: Famous People.
Second Wednesday: Language.
Second Thursday: Culture. (Currency, festivals, population, religion)
Second Friday: Art/Craft.
Second Saturday: Food.

*Welcome to Thailand
*Thailand (World of Recipes)
*Thailand (Festivals of the World)
Elephant Hospital
Culture in Thailand
Thailand (Focus on Asia)
Thailand (Countries of the World)
A Tale of Two Rice Birds: A Folktale from Thailand

Geography: Vietnam

First Monday: Location. (I’ve found a world map I’ll use, and just set him to find the country in the atlas, and identify it on the map)
First Tuesday: Flag.
First Wednesday: Language. Milet Bilingual Visual Dictionary: English-Vietnamese
First Thursday: Animals.
First Friday: Music. (Folk songs/dancing)
Second Monday: Features. (Cities, Mountains, Rivers)
Second Tuesday: Famous People. Ho Chi Minh It’s really a bit old for him, but it will do. There’s a reasonable timeline at the back, and decent pictures throughout.
Second Wednesday: Language.
Second Thursday: Culture. (Currency, festivals, population, religion) Tet: Vietnamese New Year, Asian Holidays, Festivals of the World: Vietnam
Second Friday: Art/Craft. Weaving. (We’ve got some of a guy on SBS visiting Vietnam and learning about the food, we’ll try and watch that in preparation for the food.)
Second Saturday: Food.

(These seem reasonable… but there are no stand out books this time.)
Vietnam: Land/Vietnam: Peoples/Vietnam: Cultures
A Family from Vietnam
Vietnam: Still Struggling, Still Spirited
Australia’s Neighbours: Vietnam
To Swim in Our Own Pond: Ta Ve Ta Tam Ao Ta : A Book of Vietnamese Proverbs
The Vietnamese in Australia

Shakespeare in Art

Later this year, we’ll be reading Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare. Our copy is unillustrated (I believe the Baldwin Project has images in their version). I thought that it might be nice to find some art to look at as we read them (each one is only about three pages long). Thinking this might well take me a while (and being interested to see what was out there!) I started looking. In a remarkably short space of time, I came across this site. The creator has done a fabulous job of collecting and organising images associated with the plays—it will be a simple matter for me to choose two or three for each play covered in the book to look at as we read!

Reading the Classics

A couple of things have come up in the last little while, and I’m feeling spurred to movement:-)

I want to start reading through the Classics. I have tried starting the Fiction list (from The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had, which is what I plan to use as my guide), but I found Don Quixote rather impenetrable:-( I’ve kind of started the biographies, with Augustine’s Confessions… but lacked oomph and dedication.

I think I need to do this with people, so I can talk about it as I read it. So I’ve started a mailing list (Crawling Through the Classics) and invited a few people with whom I’ve previously discussed the idea. If you’re interested though, feel free to join, and point it out to anyone who might be interested (I’ve said homeschooling mums in Perth, but I’ve included a number of question marks, because I don’t feel it has to be limited to that… I don’t necessarily want lots of people, but a reasonable sized group would be good, so there might be some different impression–and so if someone hasn’t read the ‘assignment’ the discussion doesn’t get de-railed for lack of participants).

My plan is that we choose something, and read through at a (CM-approved:-) ) pace (maybe a chapter a week?) and we can talk about it via email as we go (although, I realise a chapter a week is going to take us a long time to get through! Maybe two books, a chapter of each a week? Still slow, but not overloading on any one?). I’d quite like to add a face-to-face gathering in every now and again (monthly? bi-monthly? quarterly?) to discuss in person:-) We’ll sort out the details once there’s a group on the mailing list.

I’ve also discovered that Librivox has a number of the works. So I’m willing to give Don Quixote another go—but I’ll listen to it:-)

I don’t have my copy with me (I’ve just leant it to a friend:-) ), but basically there are 5 lists, Fiction (starts with Don Quixote), Biography (or Autobiography… can’t remember which… but starts with Augustine’s Confessions), History, Drama and Poetry (I’m not especially keen to do that!) I’d like to choose one (or two if people are feeling keen) list(s), and read through from the start. (From memory, this looks pretty accurate, it starts with Fiction, then Autobiography, History, Drama… there are about 30 books in each list)

I haven’t really thought about how to discuss (I’m bad at finding anything to talk about, other than ‘I like/don’t like it’:-) )… but there are plenty of things online we can perhaps look at using to help guide discussion, or take it in turns to ask questions, or something🙂

If you’re interested, join the list, and any discussion as to which books, can take place there:-)

Song School Latin

He _loves_ Latin. SSL has been a good choice. We’ve done some of it orally (or mostly skipped the ‘copywork’ elements), but there’s a lot of circling and colouring and the like… that, combined with the songs makes it ideal for a kindy/preschool aged programme. I do plan to use it again when Lyra reaches this stage (at this point I’m thinking that won’t be until 2012—which is when she’d be the year before year one).(I got him to do everything in lead pencil, and we may well repeat the programme next year)

I’m still undecided about next year. I want to look at Lively Latin (even though it’s one of the slightly older early programmes). It seems to be high interest, so it might work in the meantime… Minimus might be gentle enough for a meander for a year. Or we could just re-do SSL, possibly with Lingua Angelica to supplement—basically to sing along with (I know, it’s more religious than Paddington would like, but supplementary materials are hard to come by in Latin! And singing is something that definitely works for us:-) )

It does have the Christmas chapter in the middle of the book (and uses that vocabulary to build on, so you can’t really reposition it), and is US-centric(you know, ‘fall’, and snow in winter, motto of the US… that kind of thing)… but that’s pretty liveable. But the songs are great, and they love to sing them just for fun:-) (Lyra regularly sings the Vale song:-) And I had to make a point of teaching her the English alphabet, when I realised she was singing the Latin song so reliably:-) ) The Student Book is self-contained (it includes the CD with all the songs in both Ecclesiastical and Classical pronunciations, and I really like the range of instrumentation and styles of the songs!)

Options for Early Childhood Latin

(Thanks to Amber for her question! I’ve finally finished this post—about 10 months after starting it! Except that, it just keeps on growing! I’m going to post it, although I will come back to edit it when new programmes come to light—or when I remember them!)

So, the plan is that we will (have!) start(ed!) Latin more formally next (this!) year. We’ll take it slowly, but we’ll start. Of course, given that I haven’t done much Latin, I will definitely need a curriculum. That means I need to choose one.

So, what are the options?

There are a lot more than a few years ago when I started thinking about this:-) Then, there was pretty much one choice aimed at K-3.

We started our Latin journey with a term of lessons with a local teacher. Although Puggle enjoyed them, I wasn’t really happy with them, as it seemed to me the teacher wasn’t familiar with ‘kindy’ type kids and their capabilities. We did start doing nursery rhymes there, and we spent another year doing a new nursery rhyme every fortnight (all the rhymes are in the sidebar under Songs We Sing: Latin. I haven’t yet done the next step though, which is to record them all as podcasts. But, Latin pronunciation is easy! Each letter makes one sound only!)

It seemed foolish to stop latin, and so I wanted to move on a bit, but I didn’t want to get into things too heavily. After doing a pile of research, I found that there were basically three programmes aimed at about 5-8 year olds. (There’s possibly a fourth, which is even Australian, but the info on it is pretty sketchy—and from memory it may involve audio cassettes. It may also (from memory!) be very Christian, which wouldn’t work for our family… so I discounted it.)

Of those three, Elementary Latin didn’t have many reviews, and while the content makes it directed towards younger students, the little I can see suggests it’s fairly reading/writing centred. It consists of Student Workbook, a Teacher’s Edition and an audio CD.

Prima Latina had been my original choice (partly because when I began looking it was the only obvious one around). However… it seemed to be fairly workbook reliant (although I know of a number of people who have used it orally with young children—which I would have done if I chose it for Puggle this year). It is also fairly heavy religious content, which isn’t so good for us. On the other hand, I believe it’s a pretty reasonable intro to some of the grammar elements (basically, it’s the first half or so of Latina Christiana I, just slowed down). It consists of a Student Book and a Teacher’s Manual. There is also a Pronunciation CD available, and a set of Instructional DVDs.

Song School Latin only had a fraction of the reviews of Prima Latina, but it is quite new. Most reviews seemed positive, and I liked the idea of basing it around songs. I didn’t worry about getting the Teacher’s Edition, and I haven’t felt the need for an answer key (and I don’t think that’s because I have an interest in language, it is pretty obvious what the answers are). It is pretty light on the grammar side of things (it talks a little about nouns and verbs, but that’s pretty much it it), which is a weakness, but given I’m using it for Puggle when he’s so young, I’m happy enough with that. It does have the Christmas chapter in the middle of the book (and uses that vocabulary to build on, so you can’t really reposition it), and is US-centric (you know, ‘fall’, and snow in winter, motto of the US… that kind of thing)… but that’s pretty liveable. But the songs are great, and they love to sing them just for fun:-) (Bilby regularly sings the Vale song:-) And I had to make a point of teaching her the English alphabet, when I realised she was singing the Latin song so reliably:-) ) The Student Book is self-contained (it includes the CD with all the songs in both Ecclesiastical and Classical pronunciations, and I really like the range of instrumentation and styles of the songs!)

For slightly older children, there are a few more choices.

Minimus is aimed at 7-10 year olds. It gets a lot of rave reviews, although it’s apparently much more complete with the Teacher’s Resource Book—which is horribly expensive (about $100 Australian!) It seems to be often used as a supplementary text, because it’s supposed to be a fun programme. I’ve certainly seen the Pupil’s Book, and it looks to be high interest (it’s done in a cartoon form). It is structured similarly to a modern language programme, and covers a lot of day-to-day stuff (food/family/home etc). There’s also an Audio CD available.
Minimus have also published some early readers in support.

For 8-10 year olds, there are several choices. I haven’t looked closely at them all (I keep finding new ones! Here is a collection of reviews which covers more courses.)

Lively Latin has been getting rave reviews. I’ve been leaning away from it mostly because it combines History (and English?) in with the Latin (although you can apparently skip them with no dramas, it seems a bit of a waste to pay for a programme if I plan to skip 2/3 of it!) However, a friend of mine has recently begun it with her 8 year old, and they are rather enjoying it. I’m looking forward to having a look at her copy—I haven’t completely ruled it out. It’s available as an online version (download and print), CD, or in hard copy and CD.

Latin for Children probably would have been my first choice. It has got a lot of positive reviews, and looking at the sample info (which included some YouTube type footage) Puggle was very excited. I’m now a little wary though, because of some comments on one of my lists that suggest the grammar is not all it could be (as in, it contains some errors). This worries me a bit, because the comments were also applied to SSL (which is published by the same people), and I can see (well, hear) the errors in that (there are two ways of pronouncing Latin… SSL includes both versions on their CD… but they make some errors in the Ecclesiastical versions of some songs. Not an issue for me because we use the other form—and I’m confident that I could sing over the top [as I do for the alphabet song, they pronounce ‘zed’ rather than ‘zee’:-)],) it makes the charges plausible. And I’d rather go for something that will be accurate! It is also more overtly religious than SSL (which is basically just the Christmas chapter).

Latina Christiana consists of a Student Book, Teacher Manual and a Pronunciation CD.

After that? There’s about a dozen options—although I haven’t separated out which ones are ‘continuing’ programmes, and which are for beginners (although, possibly it doesn’t matter much, if they’re beginners ones, we can scoot through the early stages as a revision). I’m not looking too closely, as they are probably three years at least away from us—and who knows what else may be around by that stage?!

Adventures in Tandem Nursing

A couple of weeks before Cygnet was born, it suddenly struck me that Bilby would still be nursing… (I had never intended to wean her, she was still less than two—too young for me to be prepared to wean her… but I’d always anticipated that she would self-wean). It occurred to me that I might need to do some preparing!

So I asked a couple of friends (being in the fortunate position of knowing a couple of people who have/do tandem feed) for advice. Specifically, I was after suggestions for preparing Bilby, and also ideas about the logistics of it… Nursing a toddler (with their long legs!) can already be a challenge adding a baby…

One of them (as well as answering my questions) lent me a book.

Adventures in Tandem Nursing: Breastfeeding During Pregnancy and Beyond was a really helpful read! I wished that I had got hold of it when I was pregnant with Bilby herself! I’d ended up weaning Puggle, and angsted about it quite a bit—I probably would have made the same decision after having read this book, but I suspect I would have felt more at ease about it.

It gave me lots of useful information… both about feeding while pregnant, and what I might expect once Cygnet actually arrived (breastfed toddler poo!). There was a good mix of ‘technical’ information and personal stories, and a fabulous collection of photos. I hadn’t considered how Puggle might view things… but that was no problem—he caught sight of one particular photo and started telling me how I would need to hold Bilby and the baby to nurse them:-)

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is currently nursing and might be expecting another baby—or might be considering getting pregnant! I wouldn’t wait until the tail end of the pregnancy… tandem nursing starts before then!

Next entries »