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 Picture Books

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

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

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:-)

“Cuddle Time”

When I chose Julie Vivas as our Picturebook Artist for this year, I requested a number of her books (that we didn’t have) from the library. Cuddle Time is one of those.

I have to say, I’m delighted by it (enough that I’m thinking about getting it for one of the kids for Christmas!) Very simply, it’s the story of two children getting up in the morning. It makes use of a little repetition, and some gentle rhymes (in fact, gentle is probably a good description of it as a whole). The greatest joy for me thoguh, is that Julie Vivas’ beautiful illustrations show the two children as being very similar in size to my big kids:-) So it depicts waking up as being very like our house (on a good morning:-) )


Puggle was given a large number of stuffed toys when he was born. After reading The King & the Cuddly, they became known as cuddlies. But he rarely paid any attention to them.
Bilby came along, and she was also given a large collection of cuddlies. But she does play with them:-) My parents recently got back from Canada and Alaska, and brought with them a stuffed Bald Head Eagle for Puggle and a stuffed Husky for Bilby. She adores the Husky, has started taking it to bed with her each sleep time (instead of a different cuddly for every sleep)—and Puggle has followed suit with the Eagle!

This Week

Week 2, Block 1, Boronia Term
Introduce phonograms ‘d’, ‘f’ (sandpaper letters and sand tray)
o mea Maria (Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary)
Amabo te (Please)
Frère Jacques
Viens! (Come)

English Studies
A Lost Paradise‘ from The Lilac Fairy Book Andrew Lang
Great Claus and Little Claus’ from The Complete Illustrated Stories Hans Christian Anderson
Narration: ‘The Frogs and the Ox‘, ‘The Dog, the Cock and the Fox‘, ‘Belling the Cat‘ from The Aesop for Children Ill. Milo Winter (He’s really a bit too young for Narration, so I’m mostly going to be keeping an ear out for re-tellings, or incorporation in play)
Recitation: Buckingham Palace A. A. Milne from When We Were Very Young

Art and Music
Folksong: The Drinking Gourd
Composer: Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Work: Scheherazade
Artist: Leonardo da Vinci
Work: Ginevra de’ Benci
Music: Loud/Soft (The Kodály Method 1 Lois Choksy) Hop Old Squirrel
Art: Watercolour
Painting a Wash (Art Ideas Fiona Watts)


Week 1, Block 1, Boronia Term
We’ve started back reasonably well. I wouldn’t say we’re fully back into the swing of things, but we are definitely back to singing, Mat Time, and some of the reading. Puggle is happy to go and choose an activity from the sewing cabinet (and mostly put it away again).

I’m still not completely happy with the way the sewing cabinet is set up—the shelves/language work is good, but the art/craft side is a bit unfocussed. Also, my aim is to have it arranged so that I only have to move a couple of things and it’s clear for sewing (making a virtue of the fact that we always end up with ‘stuff’ there… if I choose what is on there, I can choose to make it easily moveable.) I probably need to look at that this evening, I want to sew tomorrow, and I don’t want it to be a pain to set up:-)

One of the things that I think is helping me feel we’re off to a good start is the books. Last year a lot of our reading was printouts (for most of the year we didn’t have book copies of A Child’s Garden of Verses, or the Fairy books, we just found a copy of the poem/story online and printed them out). This year, we have all the books before the year starts. They are in a tub (well, the ones we’re using at the moment, four of them), and Puggle will wander over and bring me one of them at random times. I have post-it notes marking what we’re up to, so it’s easy to pick up where we left off (the Anderson and the Lilac Fairy Book have longer stories than he can cope with in a single sitting), and of course, they have pictures:-) He is most keen on Aesop, and will ask for more, and the Poems (well, the poem!) is a hit… he can’t wait to do the next one:-)

We do have a bit of a change in our days, Bilby is no longer having two naps as a general rule. Last year we’d have Mat Time when she was napping in the morning (and we’d light a candle—although, I doubt we’d be doing that for now even if she were asleep… it’s a bit too warm!) and that’s not possible now. Given the nap has basically disappeared this week, we haven’t re-settled to a rhythm as yet. I’d like to see us take the bucket of books outside, so Bilby can explore while we read a bit… but I’ll have to think about how to manage the singing bits… I guess a ‘cheat sheet’ of all the songs? That could be a pain though, as they change on different schedules… I may need to re-visit the songbook idea…

I was a little worried that I’d planned on too much. As I said, we’re not back into everything yet, (and we’re also not back to our outside activities yet), but I’m feeling better about what I’m intending. I need to get better about playing the music, and the art set up needs work (I didn’t get to anything other than putting the book out for him) but other than that, Mat Time is no more than about 20 minutes a day (and that’s a good mix of singing, reading and talking about a picture—although, he also chose to bring over some of the outlined letters we used last year:-) ), and the rest of the stuff is pretty much there for him to use as he feels the inclination. So, for three and a half, I don’t think that’s excessive.

Blogging Advent—Christmas Books

We’ve had a number of books from the library this year, some of which are worth repeating, and others not so much! I wanted to be sure and make a note of them so we can get the right ones again… and some of the others in a couple of years when the kids are older.

Puggle (3 1/2 at the moment) really enjoyed Christmas: Look And Say by Jo Litchfield and Francesca Allen. It’s pretty simple (and definitely a Northern Hemisphere Christmas), but it really worked for him (actually, Bilby looked through it quite a bit as well). It’s kind of like a Christmas themed ‘Where’s Wally’, with a selection of Christmas nouns to ‘read’. (He definitely was using his letters to work out what the words were… ‘Cookies and milk’ caused him pause more than once… he knew it wasn’t ‘biscuits and milk’ as the picture suggested to him, he would say the initial sound before he could remember.)

I thought Saint Nicholas by Mary Anne Kamols was a pretty good re-telling of the Saint Nicholas story. Probably a little long for Puggle this year, although it was borderline, and I would recommend you read the last page ahead of time, in case you need to skip a paragraph for your family. This is one I will plan on getting again.

I chose Christmas in Sweden by Cheryl L. Enderlein because I guessed it would probably include some information about St Lucia and St Lucia’s day. It did… but really not as much as I’d hoped. Puggle asked me to read bits of it a couple of times, but I don’t know that I’d bother particularly about getting it a gain.

I really like most of what Margaret Wise Brown has written. On Christmas Eve is a beautiful book, but the story felt somewhat purposeless:-( This was one of the last books we got, so we actually haven’t read it much, so, given the illustrations are so lovely, and I generally like the author’s writing, I’m willing to give it another go, but it’ll need to wow me next time.

Christmas Is by Gail Gibbons was one of the books that we didn’t get to much, because we had so many out. I think it is probably worth another look—I don’t know that Puggle actually saw it at all! It has a couple of pages on each of a number of typical Christmas elements, with lovely bright images. The length is probably about right for Puggle, and it should still work next year. Also by the same author, Santa Who? was another we didn’t really look at. It has similar bright illustrations, but much longer blocks of text. I don’t think it would have worked this year, but I’m guessing that it will be a good choice next year. It traces the history of Santa, through a number of guises.

I was rather disappointed we didn’t make more use of Tomie dePaola’s Christmas Carols. Really, Puggle latched onto Tinniat, Rudolph and Little Drummer Boy (with occasional diversions to Away in a Manger—which is all about Little Lord Cheeses… says something about my pronounciation:-( ), he wasn’t especially interested in any others (at least, not until right at the end:-) ).

I wanted to finish off by mentioning a couple of our books that struck a chord with Puggle this year. Is That You, Father Christmas? by Siobhan Dodds was a real hit from the moment he saw and heard it. I’m not sure quite what its appeal was, it’s a sweet little story, and cute pictures… but he would often read it:-)

The other two books I got about 10 days before Christmas when my Scholastic order came in. Fair Dinkum Aussie Christmas has some fabulous Aussie carols, and some more dodgy ones (The Feral Pig and Cane Toad as mentioned in Paddington’s post, is pretty special!). Puggle certainly enjoys it, and has played the accompanying CD a few times. He is however far more keen on Aussie Jingle Bells (I have to agree with him there!) If you’re looking for a fairly accurate representation of an Australian Christmas day (assuming we all live in the bush, of course!), this would be a good choice.

Actually, looking at the list, while there are a few I wouldn’t fuss over particularly, there’s actually none that were really bad. That’s pleasing:-)

Now to return all the library books:-)

Blogging Advent—Monday 24th

We read ‘The Nativity’ illustrated by Julie Vivas. This was a nice easy activity—the rest of the day has been non-stop!

Last night I finished Bilby’s Advent Calendar, and tonight once the rest of the presents were wrapped, I finished Puggle’s shirts (I did my first ever blind hems… don’t recommend it for a curvy edge:-( Certainly not for the first time).  Puggle finally finished the last of his cards, and we wrapped up the Rocky Road. My sister came by and gave me a hand to do the crackers. So they’re all finished.

All that’s left for me now is to prepare the breakfast things, so that they require minimal attention… and then go to bed. Puggle will be out at precisely 7.30, if this morning is any indication! (He came in at 7.30—the time he is allowed to leave his room, to get his Santa sack, to set it out… and then filled it with presents from under the tree:-) )

I’ll take this opportunity to wish you all a safe and happy Christmas, enjoy your families—I’ll see you on the other side:-)

Next entries »