Mem Fox is a successful children’s book author and literacy expert. But her expertise in Reading Magic (Harcourt 2001) comes across as personal and passionate, mostly because she writes foremost from her position as a mother. Her main point in writing this book is to read aloud to our children, making it a fun time and a game, as parents let their children learn from the words that surround them in their daily lives.
I loved reading this book. Nothing Ms Fox said was surprising or new to me. Back in 2009, I started a project to read my then 26-month-old son 1000 books before he started kindergarten. Just over 18 months later, we’d read 1000 different books together (that I’d recorded, at least) and he was reading on his own. Everything Ms Fox suggests is thus backed up by our application of it! It was not a struggle. It was fun. (more…)
Grammar has a reputation of being dull and dry, but a turn-of-the-century classic, Grammar-Land by M.L. Nesbitt (first published 1878), attempts to make it fun by turning learning the parts of speech into a game.
In the imaginary world of Grammar-Land, the parts of speech have been arguing about which of them is most important. They must come before Judge Grammar and explain themselves. The book is written with the “children of Schoolroom-shire” as the intended audience, and as each part of speech comes before the judge, he asks the children for help in understanding the parts of speech.
Because I love studying grammar, I think it goes without saying that I loved this book! I found it to be a delightful introduction for kids. The parts of speech have distinct and memorable personalities. I think my favorite was Little Article.
Admittedly, the plot is not a fascinating adventure. There is no disguising the fact that this book is teaching something. But, compared to other options, I think sitting and reading about Grammar-Land is an ideal way for my son to first be exposed to the parts of speech. With the worksheets that other homeschool parents have made (here and here), I see Grammar-Land as a delightful beginning grammar “curriculum” for my young son. Best of all, Grammar-land is available for free at Google Books. I’ll come back here and report when Raisin and I have read it together.
As a mother just beginning the journey of elementary level home education, I have been busy searching the web and my library for free resources to aid me as I teach my young son. When I saw Free Resources for Elementary Teachers by Colleen Kessler (2012, Prufrock Press) on the Library Thing Early Reviewer list, I thought I’d put my name down for it. I was delighted to receive it!
Ms Kessler’s book is an annotated list of websites that provide free lesson plans, worksheets, online games, posters or materials, and so forth for teachers of elementary-aged children. In a sense, it’s something any web-savvy educator would be able to compile. And yet, the bottom line is that now I do not need to! I have enjoyed browsing through the book, marking the sites I need to return to. There are lots of free resources on the web to explore!
A few gripes I have are probably ones to be expected because we all have different preferences. For example, a few sites Ms Kessler really enjoys are ones I’ve already found and not been impressed with. Some others require accounts in order to download the worksheets or lesson plans. Others provide subscription services for a fee, with only a small fraction of resources available for free. And then some of her links are insanely long gobbleygook: I’m not about to type in 100 characters to get to a website.
Further, I do think Free Resources could be a bit better formatted. Because it’s annotated paragraphs, it’s a lot of text on the page. I don’t want to have to read every paragraph when I’m looking for “what was that one site that did this or that?” But owning the book means I can make plenty of notes in the margins for my own reference.
These are somewhat minor complaints for me. I can’t expect one book to have everything that I love. In general, I think Free Resources will be a great help for me as I get started in my homeschooling journey.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.
It’s interesting how a year and a half changes one’s perspective. In the early fall of 2010, I read a wonderful nonfiction examination of how parents can help children embrace imagination. Revisiting Awakening Children’s Minds: How Parents and teachers Can Make a Difference by Laura Berk (2001, Oxford University Press) provided me with some necessary reminders in the how to’s and why’s behind parenting a young child that is becoming an intelligent and creative individual. Rereading the book gave me encouragement as a parent. I am immensely glad I revisited it: I see it from a new perspective. (more…)
Although I’m a beginner to homeschooling ideas and styles, I think it’s fair to say that A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levinson provides a great overview to the Charlotte Mason style of education, albeit from one home educator’s perspective.
The author’s personal homeschooling style was certainly not for me, and the author’s opinions throughout the book was rather irritating. For example, it seems she was a bit extreme in censoring, such as she refused Dickens in her curriculum for years because he wrote a “ghost story” and those aren’t allowed in her house and she censored artwork by covering body parts with sticky notes.
But I’m interested in the general precepts of the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling and this book provided a nice overview. I like the emphasis on the fine arts: studying various artists by looking at their artwork, rather than reading about them, and reading classic literature rather than kid summaries of classic literature. I liked the emphasis on narration with young children, and I’ve tried to incorporate more of it in my school at home time with Raisin. (He struggles to write, so it makes perfect sense.)
I liked how A Charlotte Mason Education was so very short (less than 100 pages) and written in a personal, conversational tone. It made it a quick one-sitting read. Even though I can’t say I loved the book because of the author’s extreme personal opinions interspersed throughout it, I feel I have a nice feel for Charlotte Mason education now thanks to reading it.