Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Supplemental Reading List for School (December)

I've been doing a much better job of record-keeping this fall. But one thing I keep intending (and forgetting!) to do is a list of the supplemental books we're using in our studies.

By supplemental, I mean books we're using to back up the core/spine texts we're using in each subject. Usually these are library resources, picture books or other sorts of books (or videos or CDs) that add an extra layer to our learning. Sometimes I choose them purposefully; other times I pick them up "on the fly" as the sweet girl develops a sudden interest in something she's studying (or a side trail connected to it). Sometimes we read these books cover to cover, and other times we skim them, enjoying pictures and reading excerpts. But all of them enhance our learning in some way.

I like to keep annotated lists of these resources, but I often find myself scrambling to remember to do it. Then the book or CD is due and I turn it back in without ever adding it to the list. I thought perhaps if I kept ongoing monthly lists here (edited as we go along) it would provide more incentive to remember! It's a lot more fun to share about good learning resources with others than simply to annotate for myself.

So here's the list for December so far, categorized by subject.

Language Arts:
Robert Frost (Poetry for Young People series)
~I'm not sure the sweet girl has been entirely ready for this: many of the poems have felt like huge stretches for us. But she's been game for it, relaxing into my counsel to simply enjoy the sound of the poems, even when she doesn't understand what Frost is saying. Of course some of the poems have worked better than others -- I think I will likely write a whole post on the challenges of reading Frost with children. But I do love Frost, and I love this poetry series. This one feels special because it's edited by Gary D. Schmidt, a writer whose work I love, and illustrated by Henri Sorenson, whose picture books always charm us with their beauty. A winning combination.

A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms
by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Chris Raschka
~I'm not sure we've been quite ready for this one either, but it's been fun to "read at" it. Some of the poetic forms are too advanced to try to teach in any significant way to a third grader, but the poems are nevertheless fun to enjoy (even without the instructions about the forms). And at least the book is helping me get across the idea of what poetic forms are. The sweet girl has been most taken with the simpler forms she can try herself, especially the rhyming ones like couplets and quatrains. Today she tried writing a set of Christmas "cuplets" (as she spelled it).

A Drop of Water
by Walter Wick

~Hooray for this marvelous photo esaay. The pictures are gorgeous, the science ties in almost perfectly with the work we've done all semester in Adventures with Atoms and Molecules. I plan to review this one on Epinions and will try to update with a review link here.

William Penn, Founder of Pennsylvania
by Steven Kroll, illustrated by Ronald Himler

~A picture book biography with very nice pictures, but a disappointingly dry text. It's stuffed with information, but not told engagingly. And we'd learned most of it already from other resources, especially Story of the World (Vol. 3) and a video about Penn. I mainly tried this as a way to stretch our learning time on Pennsylvania history, and Penn is such an interesting subject. This might work better for slightly older (5th-6th grade?) kids who are researching Penn's life on their own, but I wasn't impressed with it as a read-aloud.

Peter the Great

by Diane Stanley
~Stanley, on the other hand, really knows how to create scintillating picture book biographies. Meticulously researched, beautifully illustrated, winningly told...it really helped the sweet girl to understand Peter's desire to learn more about the West. Me too!

We've taken some time during this Advent to study about Christmas customs, traditions and legends. We've read at several books...but I think I will save them for a separate post.

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