Many parents and teachers would love to use more trade books in the classroom, either to replace or supplement textbooks. Many times, however, it seems to be too much trouble to find titles that accurately match up by grade level, historical period, or by geographical region. In addition, many educators want a short book summary or even warnings about potential inappropriate language or other questionable issues, in order to make appropriate selections.
In my own homeschool planning, I have found several excellent resources to help in my quest to find great books to use in my curriculum. These literature guides are the map to help me match up titles that go along with the topics, people, region, or time periods that were are studying—and they save me lots of time that is better spent teaching or reading with my children.
Books Children Love: A Guide to the Best Children’s Literature by Elizabeth Wilson
An author who advocates the Charlotte Mason approach to education wrote this book, and the titles do reflect Judeo-Christian values. It includes lists of books for many areas and subjects including: animals, art and architecture, bible/spiritual teaching, biography, crafts, hobbies, domestic arts, dance, drama, geography, history, horticulture, humor, language, literature, poetry, rhymes, math, misc. music, outdoor activities other than group games, physical education, reference, science, technology, and special days and seasons.
All Through The Ages: History Through Literature Guide by Christine Miller
According to material in the book’s introduction, this guide is a glorified list of books, commonly available from public libraries and homeschool catalogs, which are useful for learning history using literature—real books—rather than textbooks. Christine Miller has taken suggestions from many resources, catalogs, and other literature resource guides to create a comprehensive (and chronological) resource for all educators. Each section (historical era or geographical region) is subdivided by reading level.
Honey For A Child’s Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life by Gladys Hunt
This resource includes an indexed list of the best children’s classics ever and an extensive annotated bibliography of books worth reading, arranged by their suitability for various ages. However, Mrs. Hunt also provides insightful articles and ideas for family reading, nurturing young readers, parenting, and what makes a good book. This resource is definitely based on Christian principles.
Let The Authors Speak: A Guide To Worthy Books Based on Historical Setting by Carolyn Hatcher
This guide is unique in that it can be referenced specifically by setting, author or title, as laid out in the table of contents and index. It is also arranged by reading/age level, which makes it very user friendly. As with the other resources, the author gives a brief summary of the book as well. There is also a great section about the use of ‘living books’ and how they are a superior way to educate children and teens.
Turning Back the Pages of Time: A Guide to American History Through Literature by Kathy Keller
This tiny resource packs a big punch! It is limited to American History, but the chronological list includes biographies, classics, historical fiction, and some non-fiction titles arranged by grade level. All titles have been screened from a Christian perspective and are historically accurate, although suggestions are included from both secular and Christian sources. Sections include: Early Explorers, Early Indians and Pilgrims, Colonial America, American Revolution, Westward Expansion, Civil War Era, Progressive Era, World War II, General US History, and Cookbooks.
Although there are probably many resources available that adequately give book suggestions, I have personally used these specific guides and have found them to be extremely helpful. The books are easy to use, and most of the titles are easy to find. I also like the summaries and suggestions by grade level. Most of all, I like the convenience of using these literature guides—the research and legwork has already been done for me, and I can do what I do best—TEACH!
*Originally posted at the National Writing for Children Center on September 29, 2010
How would you like to eat an octopus for lunch? No, not a real octopus! But you can make one from a hot dog for a special lunchtime treat! Here’s how:
Use a knife to split a hot dog in half lengthwise, stopping about halfway up. Then split each of those halves into fourths (again lengthwise), being careful not to cut off any of the pieces. You should now have eight ‘tentacles!‘
Now, simply put the hot dog into a saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil, and cook until done. Voile! Place your ‘octopus’ on a serving plate and enjoy! For more variety, you could use ketchup and mustard to create eyes and a smile. A fun twist on an old favorite!
P is For Peach: A Georgia Alphabet
Written by: Carol Crane
Illustrated by: Mark Braught
Published by: Sleeping Bear Press
- ISBN 13: 9781585360468
- ISBN 10: 1585360465
Sometimes you just find a book or series that makes your heart beat a bit faster, and you know you’ve hit a resource jackpot! That’s how I felt as I was browsing the non-fiction shelves in the juvenile section of our regional library last week. A picture book with a beautifully illustrated cover of a peach tree caught my eye, so I pulled it off the shelf for a closer look. I was so excited to find that it was P is for Peach: A Georgia Alphabet by Carol Crane, and I quickly started flipping through the pages. All I can say is WOW—a geography/history/alphabet book all in one! And of course, being a Georgia gal AND a history/geography buff, I put it in my ‘check out’ stack with a sigh of contentment and a feeling of anticipation!
Sleeping Bear Press has found a niche for educators, homeschoolers, elementary school students, and state history enthusiasts with their wonderful series, Discover America State By State. A few other book titles in the series include:
L is for Lonestar: A Texas Alphabet
S is for Sunshine: A Florida Alphabet
T is for Tar Heel: A North Carolina Alphabet
L is for Last Frontier: An Alaskan Alphabet
P is for Peach is the perfect book to introduce young children to the alphabet AND the wonders and natural splendors of Georgia, but it also contains thorough information appropriate for older children and adults as well—no fluff here! In fact, according to the Sleeping Bear Press/Gale website, here is a description of the book:
“As you travel through the Okefenokee Swamp, keep an eye out for Tiger Swallowtails and Brown Thrashers, and be sure to pick some Yellow Confederate Daisies before taking a nap under a Live Oak Tree. This is the Georgia that becomes a wondrous reality within the beautiful rhyming verses of Carol Crane and the colorful images of Mark Braught. At the same time the rhymes entertain and inform younger readers, Crane’s in-depth expository text will appeal to older ones, creating a two-tiered teaching tool for educators in the Peach State and across the country.”
Carol Crane has done an excellent job compiling information and fascinating facts about Georgia, and the illustrator, Mark Braught, adds much to the book with his gorgeous and vivid illustrations. Well done! I like this picture book so much, that I plan to purchase a copy for my own state history bookshelf! And an extra bonus? There is a free teacher’s guide on the Sleeping Bear Press/Gage website to go along with this book and the others in the series as well. I plan on using the book and the teacher’s guide to add more interest and variation to our Georgia history studies.
For more information about P is for Peach, or any of the other Discover America State by State books, check out the website above. Highly recommended!
For more great Nonfiction Monday posts, head on over to Practically Paradise, (the host for today’s round-up).
For a fun Spring project, check out my personal blog, Picket Fence Cottage, for directions/photos on how to make a ‘bunny banner.’ Very cute!
I am so excited to be a part of this month’s Virtual Specialist Tour hosted by the NWFCC. Below is the press release!
Amy M. O’Quinn’s 6-day Virtual Homeschool Specialist Tour hosted by the NWFCC Fri, Mar 25
Homeschool Specialist Amy M. O’Quinn is being showcased the entire month of March at the National Writing for Children Center. Part of this showcase includes a 6-day virtual specialist tour.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRLog (Press Release) – Mar 24, 2011 – M E D I A R E L E A S E
CONTACT: Suzanne Lieurance
Amy M. O’Quinn’s 6-day Virtual Homeschool Specialist Tour hosted by the National Writing for Children Center kicks off Fri, March 25
Homeschool Specialist Amy M. O’Quinn is being showcased the entire month of March at the National Writing for Children Center. Part of this showcase includes a 6-day virtual specialist tour. Join Suzanne Lieurance, founder and director of the National Writing for Children Center, and the virtual specialist tour hosts as they welcome Amy M. O’Quinn for her exclusive tour that starts Friday, March 25.
Amy M. O’Quinn is a pastor’s wife and former schoolteacher-turned-homeschool mom of six. She is also a freelance writer who enjoys jotting down ideas around the fringes of family life. She specializes in non-fiction, and her work has been published or acquired by various magazines including Jack and Jill, US Kids, Guideposts for Kids, Learning Through History Magazine, Highlights, GEORGIA Magazine, Homeschooling Today, International Gymnast, etc.
Amy is a product/curriculum/book reviewer for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and a regular columnist for TEACH Magazine. In addition, she has done some educational product/website writing for a major school supply company. She was also the co-founder and president/newsletter editor of her local homeschool support group for seven years.
Intrigued? Want to learn more about O’Quinn? Follow along on her virtual specialist tour. Here’s the schedule:
Friday, March 25
“Meet the Homeschool Specialist”
Host: Irene Roth – http://rothsinspiringbooksandproducts.wordpress.com
Saturday, March 26
“The Homeschool Specialist’s Life”
Host: Donna McDine – http://donna-mcdine.blogspot.com
Sunday, March 27
“Homeschooling Research Tips for Parents”
Host: Nicole Weaver – http://melangeofcultures.wordpress.com
Monday, March 28
Host: Mayra Calvani – http://www.mayrassecretbookcase.blogspot.com
Tuesday, March 29
“On the Go”
Host: Nancy I. Sanders – http://nancyisanders.wordpress.com
Wednesday, March 30
“Become a Facebook Fan”
Host: Terri Forehand – http://terri-forehand.blogspot.com
Thank you for your interest, we look forward to your visit.
Authors interested in being showcased at the National Writing for Children Center can download an application www.writingforchildrencenter.com or email Donna McDine for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Owls by Sandra Markle
Okay, children, today we are going to dissect this owl pellet and find out what the owl last ‘dined’ upon. Everybody ready?
Hmmmm…fur, fur, bones, bones. Make that teeny-tiny little bones!
More fur, more little bones….
John is very fascinated (or is that disgusted) with the whole activity!
More fur, more bones, and a teeny little skull, mandible, and obvious little rodent teeth! According to our chart, the owl had eaten a…..MOUSE! I know from the photo, the skull might resemble that of a bird. But if the thing was turned around, you would be able to see that the ‘pointy’ place is not a beak, but two long teeth. Plus, you can tell from the mandible that there are rows of tiny little teeth there as well. And of course, the fur is sort of a give away.
If YOU haven’t dissected an owl pellet, what are you waiting for? It was VERY interesting! We read several books about owls and also read an entry from the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock. All in all a most delightful ‘extra’ science activity.
So there you have it…a snippet of science!
Doesn’t this look like a fun project? Here’s another version. Growing a sunflower house is something I’d really like to try this year!
When I was a little girl, I just loved my secret little ‘hide-aways’. And who knows? If the children and I do grow a sunflower house this year, I might just sneak inside with a blanket, book, and a glass of iced tea!! Do you think they’ll find me?
Doesn’t this children’s garden at the Deltaville Maritime Museum and Holly Point Nature Park in VA look fun? I am so inspired, but also VERY tired just thinking of all the work that would be involved! I’m just happy to have the grass cut and flowers planted in my window boxes. Oh well, it’s nice to dream, isn’t it?
As a homeschool wife/mom and a notorious ‘researcher’, I’ve had an interest in nutrition and a healthier lifestyle for quite some time. I know that I must have adequate energy and a positive attitude in order to keep up with all my responsibilities, and I enjoy reading about the topic and experimenting in the kitchen. But I remember when I first seriously started searching for nutritional answers for my family…
About fifteen years while browsing in a Christian bookstore, I stumbled upon the book The 15 Minute Meal Planner by Emilie Barnes and Sue Gregg. I already had many of Emilie’s organizational books and loved her writing, so I bought this book…and needless to say, a whole new world was opened up for me. I eagerly soaked up all the nutritional information and practical advice about incorporating a whole foods diet, and immediately I set out to revamp all of our eating habits. I hit the health food stores, bought all kinds of “healthy” ingredients, and began churning out “healthy” dishes. Let’s just say that all went over like a LEAD BALLOON! Learn from my mistakes. If you want to change the way you eat and encourage your family to embrace a whole foods lifestyle…do it S-L-O-W-L-Y…one step at a time.
So, I was back to square one. I may have been discouraged, but I wasn’t defeated. I was still determined to incorporate more whole foods into our diet, but I had learned a valuable lesson. I kept reading and learning, but this time I took baby steps. First of all, I started serving more fruits and vegetables and substituted brown rice for white rice. That worked out great. Later, I introduced store-bought whole wheat bread and whole wheat pasta…so far, so good. Very few complaints! When you are used to white bread and white pasta and rice, the heavier texture of whole grains takes some getting used to…but it comes…eventually…or at least it did in our home. I also started using meat as a compliment to our meal instead of the main focus, and I began substituting store-bought whole wheat flour for white flour, first 1/4 to 3/4, the 1/2 to 1/2, etc. But these changes were made over several months. Patience, patience!
During this ‘transition’ time, I purchased the set of Sue Gregg cookbooks. I wanted them right after I bought The 15 Minute Meal Planner, but I had to save up my birthday and Christmas money…it was a great investment. I learned so much from these cookbooks, and they are still a permanent fixture in my kitchen. I’ll admit that I don’t always use the recipes word for word, but I did learn a lot about the concept of whole foods cooking! Below this post, you will find one of our favorite recipes using lentils that comes from her ‘Main Dishes’ cookbook.
During this time, I also purchased Hearth and Home by Karey Swan. I’ll admit I bought this book on a whim while ordering some of my homeschool books from CBD, but it turned out to be one of the best books on homemaking and the whole foods lifestyle that I’ve ever read. I refer to it all the time. And because of Karey’s information about baking homemade bread and using freshly ground whole grains, I was inspired to try new whole grains and save up for a grain mill and a Bosch kitchen machine…but that came later. I was still learning (and I still am).
Fast forward a year or two. We moved to a new town where my husband began pastoring a new church. We joined a new homeschool group, and made new friends. New, new, new! And it just so happens that one of my new friends was an expert on grinding whole wheat flour and baking whole wheat bread. She invited me over for a bread making session and allowed me to try out her Whisper Mill, Bosch, and Vita-Mix. Now I was hooked for sure. I kept saving gift money, and my friend was able to get a great deal on a Whisper Mill and Bosch through one of her good friends who also happened to be a distributor of bread making supplies in Texas. I was in business! And somewhere along the way, I also added two other great cookbooks, More With Less and Whole Foods For the Whole Family. Both are great resources filled with wonderful recipes!
Fast forward to the year 2000. We moved back to the family farm where we now live. Many healthy habits were now in place, but with this move I lost easy access to my bread baking supplies and whole grains. But after doing some internet research, I found a co-op in a nearby town that uses Bread Becker’s delivery out of the Atlanta area. Eventually, a sweet lady in our church took over that co-op, moving it even closer to home, and she does an EXCELLENT job of running it, sending out a newsletter with recipes and information, and answering questions about using whole foods. So, every three months I can order buckets of whole grains, oats, baking supplies, etc. Very convenient!
Now, let me say this. We are by no means purists! I sometimes do use white flour and white sugar. And instead of a sweet ‘tooth’…everyone in my family has sweet ‘teeth’! And although my husband will eat homemade whole wheat bread, he actually still prefers Capt. John Derst bread. But my children would honestly rather go without bread than eat anything BUT homemade. They also prefer the whole oats that I buy through the co-op, and we do eat a lot of oatmeal. I sweeten it with Sucanat or honey, and add locally grown blueberries that we buy each year by the gallons and raw sunflower seeds that I purchase through the co-op as well. I did have an electric tortilla press and baker, and we used it a lot until I wore it out–now I need to get another one. I cook black beans or pintos either in the pressure cooker or slow cooker, and we have homemade burritos for lunch.
Many nights I will bake whole wheat sour cream cornbread using freshly ground whole wheat flour and freshly ground cornmeal. I do try to make healthier substitutions in favorite recipes (and I know some of this is debatable)…for example, whole wheat flour for white, whole wheat angel hair pasta for white spaghetti noodles, Sucanat for brown sugar, honey for white sugar, olive oil for shortening, non-fat plain yogurt for sour cream, etc. We drink a lot of water, and my children love fruit! I’ve dabbled in buying organic meat, eggs, and milk (I love organic skim milk!), but that has been a bit cost prohibitive. We eat a lot of veggies, brown rice, barley, lentils, and other whole grains and legumes.I know we are not where I would like us to be, but we are so much further along the healthy eating path than we once were! And I admit that I make progress in spurts…then I fall off the healthy lifestyle wagon. I get up, brush myself off, and start again. It’s not a diet…it’s a lifestyle…and it’s one that takes time and effort. But it is SO worth it.
Oh, I almost forgot. There are two great websites that I visit often that have wonderful recipes and information on the whole foods lifestyle…Crystal Miller’s The Family Homestead and Healthy Hillbilly Housewife. Check ‘em out!
Recipes Worth Trying:
Lentil Rice Casserole
From Sue Gregg’s ‘Main Dishes’ Cookbook
1. Blend all together in casserole dish except the cheese (wash lentils and rice, if needed).
3 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup uncooked lentils
1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
1/2 cup intstant minced onion flakes or 1 small onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon oregano leaves
1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 cup grated cheese, optional
*Note: sometimes I doctor this up a little more with salt and pepper or addtional spices…it’s your preference!
2. Bake covered at 300 degrees for 2 – 2 1/2 hours until tender and water is absorbed.
3. To serve, top hot casserole with the grated cheese and stir it in.
Makes 4 to 6 servings:
Many times we will put this mixture into tortillas and top with addtional cheese and sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, etc….sort of like a burrito. Delicious and economical!
Whole Wheat Sour Cream Cornbread
3/4 cup cornmeal (I use freshly ground)
1 cup whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground)
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. sugar or substitute
1 egg, beaten
2 T. melted butter (I use olive oil)
1 cup sour cream (fat-free okay or substitute with non-fat plain yogurt)
4 T. milk (or more to make right consistency)
Sift flour and cornmeal; add soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Add beaten egg, sour cream, milk, and melted butter (or oil). Beat thoroughly. Pour into a greased 9 inch square pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.
*Note: Sometimes I double this recipe…one 9 inch pan usually isn’t enough for my hungry crowd…especially with this favorite recipe!
3 cups dry oatmeal
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter (yes, but it’s good!)
1 cup brown sugar (I use Sucanat)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla (I make my own)
1/2 cup to 1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup nuts (we have pecan trees, but sometimes I use almonds or sunflower seeds instead of pecans)
2 tsp. baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter; stir in sugar, vanilla and eggs. Add oats, nuts, and dry ingredients. Stir in milk. Fold in berries. Pour into an 8 inch greased dish. Bake 20-25 minutes or until firm in center.
*Note: This is another recipe that I always double. Also, I make mine a little soupier because my husband doesn’t really like it too dry. Chopped apple and maybe some nutmeg is also a delicious option. This is SO good!
Whatever stage of ‘nutrition re-assessment’ you are in, just learn as much as you and make the necessary baby steps to improve your diet. Take it slow, but be persistent and consistent. The dividends of a whole foods lifestyle are great!
Most visitors who come here know that in addition to being a writer, I’m also a homeschool mom of fourteen years. And over the years, I’ve had many questions about Classical-Charlotte Mason homeschooling. I received an email to which I came up with the following reply, and I thought I’d post the answer here, in case it can help someone else. I certainly don’t consider myself an authority, but at least you can get a better understanding of why this is the ‘path’ we’ve chosen to homeschool our children. There is so much more than what I’ve touched on, but it’s a start! When I have time, I’ll try to come back to this topic again. As I told this individual below, we fall more into the Charlotte Mason camp, but there are certain aspects of Classical learning that I really like. I guess we’d be considered more ‘eclectic’ homeschoolers than anything! So, here it is….
Thanks so much for your question…and please forgive me for just now getting back to you. I’ve finally found a quiet moment to sit down and get my thoughts together! I applaud you for doing your research on C-CM! Even after fourteen years and graduating twin daughters who are now finishing up there second year of college, I still like to research/read/review all kinds of homeschooling methods, books, and curriculum. No matter how many years you do this, you will always be learning!
As far as Classical-Charlotte Mason, let me tell you first off that one of the best books on combining the two methods is For The Love of Learning by Jenny Sockey. Subtitle is: Information and Resources for Combining Charlotte Mason and Classical Education. This is a great little book and chock-full of wonderful information and resources. I highly recommend it!
I’ll be honest enough to say that we fall more into the Charlotte Mason camp, but there are several things about Classical Education that I like and implement. I love CM because of the ‘gentle’ style of learning. CM had much wisdom and insight into the minds/learning styles of children. And her emphasis on whole or living books is right-on in my opinion. There is nothing better than letting our children learn from an author who is passionate about his/her subject, instead of little snippets here and there of a greater work. Plus, I like the addition of nature study, art, music, etc. I think those things get pushed aside too often, but they bring much joy and inspiration to children and adults alike. How can we really see the awesome hand of God in creation if we don’t spend time ‘seeing’ and ‘learning’ what He has done or what He has inspired others to do?! Although our more ‘core’ subjects take first place in the schedule, I do try to bring in the fine arts/nature study as much as possible!
With Classical Education, I definitely see the benefits of acknowledging the stages of the trivium. With six children, I’ve seen the natural progression of learning stages too many times to doubt. By knowing this, I’ve not been too upset (usually-LOL) if one of my children is not ‘ready’ to ‘conquer’ a certain idea/concept when *I* think they should. Perhaps they’re not ready yet! It WILL come…when it’s time! And as a dear friend once told me, it’s all about exposure! Sooner or later, all those little bits of information will ‘come together’ to form the bigger picture…again, when it’s time!
I also really like the chronological study of history which is the way we’ve done it for years. Some of the best resources for this have come from Christine Miller. We love the H.A. Guerber history books that are available on her Nothing New Press website. We also do Latin, and I’ve seen great benefits from the study of classical languages when it comes to my children’s vocabulary! Also as a key component in Classical Education, I do believe that ‘mastery’ of certain things is very important!
Many people believe that CM probably used (or at least acknowledged) the trivium in her method of education…perhaps not as rigorously as Classical ‘purists’, but it was still definitely a big thing (and an old path) in her day! She did, however, suggest shorter lessons…but ones that were disciplined, effective and focused on excellence. She also believed that good habits and a rich home learning environment were absolutely key for a stable and well-rounded education. I whole-heartedly agree…but often easier said than done! LOL
Overall, both methods emphasize great books, great minds, and a goal of self-education (mastery)…in my mind, C-CM go hand in hand in this arena! Plus, both methods utilize narration or ‘telling back’ to aid in retention and comprehension. I love this! If a child can tell you about or write about what he/she has learned while reading, it becomes ‘theirs’…and they KNOW it! I’ve often heard that the best way to learn is to teach. If my child can ‘teach’ or ‘share’ with us what he/she has learned, so much the better!
I know I’ve not done C-CM justice, but it works for us! As I said above, I really love the ‘gentle’ style of learning ‘Charlotte Mason’ style. We do A LOT of reading aloud in our home, and even though I do start a formal grammar program around 4th-5th grade, I implement copywork every day…and I’ve seen benefits from having the children copy the works/words of great writers. When they are exposed to great writing, they will ‘pick up’ a lot!
Cindy Rushton has a lot of great resources on CM, as does Penny Gardner, Karen Andreola, Queen Homeschool, and Catherine Levison. By the way, I love, love, love Catherine Levison’s book called A Literary Education! Christine Miller is a great resource for Classical, and of course, The Well-Trained Mind is a ‘classic’! There is a company called Camrose Academy that produces lesson plans by grade level to combine both C-CM. I’ve used their stuff in the past, and was very pleased. At present, I use a lot of Sonlight with some Ambleside Online thrown in. And for next year, I’m researching ‘Living Books Curriculum‘ as an option for my younger children. I am also using another free online resource called Guest Hollow this year, and I have been extremely pleased with the plans, resources, and books!
Once again, I know I’ve not done justice to your question, but I hope I’ve helped in some small way. I think I’ll post this answer on my blog…just in case it will help someone else as well. May the Lord bless you as you research and seek His will…and set out on one of the greatest journeys you’ll ever experience!