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The Genial Hearth
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Archive for For Children

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).

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.


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: 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!

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?!

Planning for 2009

General stuff:-)
This probably seems like a fairly full on year, for what is essentially Puggle’s pre-school year (most of this is for Puggle, although I do have some plans for Bilby included). My plan though, is that we’ll start with this, and it will take as long as it takes. We’ll stick with the three term year, each being made up of three blocks of 4 weeks on, one week break (plus the Christmas block/term).

Language (Including Memorisation and Copywork)
For Puggle, I’m planning a second run through The Writing Road to Reading, actually beginning to focus on writing the letters. I’ll combine this with the sandpaper letter/phonograms, but he seems fairly interested in writing at the moment. This (and his name) will probably be all the copywork we do for the year. I anticipate using a timer (for somewhere in the order of three to five minutes), because he’s very keen on quantity—and in copywork time I’ll be more interested in quality:-) I’m hoping the second run will sort out the phonemes he hasn’t really grasped. We still have the Fitzroy readers, and I anticipate them being used fairly regularly:-)
We’ll be reading Complete Nonsense Poems by Edward Lear, and this year, I’ll be trying to encourage Puggle more in the direction of memorisation. We’ll be focussing on the same piece for a fortnight, which may help:-)
We’ll continue with the Latin nursery rhymes, but this year we are going to begin Song School Latin. It includes a number of songs, and some day-to-day phrases, so I’m not going to worry so much about using my own:-) We will attempt to continue with the French comptines, and I suspect that Puggle will listen in with Bilby’s French:-)
Over the year, we’ll be reading from The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus by Aliki, The Orchard Book of Roman Myths by Geraldine McCaughrean and Egyptian Myths by Jacqueline Morley.
Bilby isn’t at quite the same stage as Puggle was two years ago (she’s effectively 6 months younger), so I don’t think she’s ready for everything I did with him:-) We’ll still do the Nursery Rhymes, and read the poems from A Child’s Garden of Verses.
She’ll join us in the Latin and French nursery rhymes, but this year, we’re going to try reading a number of (generally familiar) picturebooks in French:-) La Chenille Qui Fait Des Trous, Devine Combien Je t’Aime and Ours Brun, Dis-Moi for starters:-)

We’ve finally made the decision to go with RightStart. It’s a very hands on programme, which should appeal to Puggle (basically I think the manipulatives approach is a good idea for the early stages of maths).

English Studies (including Narration)
We’ll continue the Aesop’s Fables for Children with Puggle, and later in the year we’ll begin Fifty Famous Stories Retold. These will be where we begin paying attention to Narration. I might actually try some with him this year:-) We’ll also be reading The House At Pooh Corner, The Muddle-headed Wombat and The Loaded Dog, along with the Orange, Green and Brown Fairy Books. I plan to try Bilby out with Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales and the Blue, Red and Yellow Fairy Books, but these are where I think we’ll probably skip bits.
Obviously, we’ll be including other read-alouds as they occur to us, but they will include The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Pinocchio, Doctor Doolittle, The Favorite Uncle Remus and The Wind in the Willows.

Health and Phys. Ed
We’re continuing with Waterbabies (swimming) this year:-) Or at least we’ll continue with Puggle for now. His class will probably collapse soon (they only take them until they are five), so then we’ll be looking at other swimming classes.

History and Geography
I’m looking forward to this a lot:-) We’re going to begin The Story of the World: Ancient Times. I’ve ordered the Activity Book as well, so we should be doing lots of stuff—I keep hearing good things about it:-)
We’ll also be reading Geography from A to Z: A Picture Glossary . I figure we’ll do a page or so each week, and I’ll print some colouring in pages for each word.

Unless Puggle has particular things that he wants to immerse himself in, I think we’ll be doing most of our science through the garden:-) I do hope to do Nature Walks more regularly (well, once the weather settles down a little), and I think this would be a good year to start recording the weather, but otherwise we’ll try and do a lot of planting and feeding and watering and seeing what happens. I’ve ordered The Tiny Seed and Une Si Petite Graine (one of the French picturebooks for Bilby:-) ) and I thought they should tie in nicely:-) I might pull out some of the How Things Work and Backyard/Kitchen Science books though, and leave them lying about, in case something appeals:-) (Edited to add: I’m also hoping that Keeping a Nature Journal will help inspire our nature observations!)

Art and Music
I’m going to try and be more regular about having family music nights:-) This year we’ll begin recorder (Bilby as well—because I don’t like my chances of doing it with Puggle and leaving her out:-) ). Our composers this year are Johann Sebastian Bach, Franz Liszt and Gustav Mahler/Anton Bruckner. And of course, we’ll sing:-)

I think I’ll probably repeat my art plans from last year… we didn’t really do much of them, mostly because I ended up putting the stuff away:-( I’m working on keeping art materials in a more accessible way. Our artists this year are Sandro Botticelli, Caspar David Fredrich and Vincent Van Gogh.

Technology and Enterprise
Cooking. By the end of the year, I’d like Puggle to feel confident about preparing one dinner:-) When he’s (quite) a bit more independent in his reading, I thought I might start letting him choose recipes to try:-)

Blogging Advent 3—December 16

Read Hettie’s Christmas Gift (doesn’t seem to be available through Amazon—I guess, because it’s Australian.)

We did this. This is another book to which I really enjoy returning. I love the fact that it provides a link between the northern hemisphere traditions that we read about, and our southern hemisphere reality.

Blogging Advent 3—December 15

Read Is That You, Father Christmas?. Bilby became very excited when she recognised the Christmas tree in the book as being like the Christmas tree in the corner of the room:-)

Blogging Advent 3—December 11

Read Wombat Divine.
This is a family favourite:-) We read it a couple of times today, and I am sure we will read it many more times until it is put away:-)

Blogging Advent 3—December 9

Read Is It Christmas?.

This is a book we got from the library last year, and it was so sweet that it was a family Christmas present on Christmas Day:-)

This year Puggle is still enjoying it, and Bilby is starting to point out features of it… she’s especially keen on the baby bear hanging from the Christmas tree:-)

Blogging Advent 3—December 7

Today we read Room for a Little One. We enjoyed it last year, and we’re enjoying it again this year… it’s so peaceful:-)
Puggle and Bilby also made the rest of the gingerbread up… I’ve really enjoyed Bilby requesting that we ‘woll, woll!’

Blogging Advent 3—Feast of Saint Nicholas

Today the task was to read The Secret of Saint Nicholas. This was one of the books we had from the library last year, and Puggle recognised it when we got it out again:-)
This gave us a chance to catch up on our cooking:-) So while I put Bilby down for her nap, the boys baked:-)

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