DK First Atlas and Usborne Sticker Atlas of the World

I knew we couldn’t just read this DK First Atlas. My kids would never retain any of the content without something visual and interactive.

So, for Canada, I found the image of a maple leaf, a hockey player, a totem pole online. For the USA, I found the Hollywood sign, a wheat combine, the capital building, etc. I was going to make colored stickers of these images so we could cut them out and put them onto a world map as we read about the places where they are. I even bought sticker paper for my printer and, for a day or two, spent all my free time downloading the images for North and South America. But as I was shopping for other books on Amazon, I came across this sticker atlas. It represents the exact concept of what I was trying to accomplish on my own!

So, using this book for stickers instead of making my own, we will read through our atlas like we planned, but find the stickers for that part of the world from this book. There aren’t stickers for every image I would have chosen and some of the images on stickers aren’t talked about in the atlas we are reading, but I think this book will provide plenty of colorful, ready-to-use stickers to correspond to what we will read from our First Atlas and it saves me from doing all that work myself.


Collect Project Supplies In Advance

I’ve been working to collect all the items we are going to need to do Norah’s science experiments this year. After several months of working through Norah’s history book with her, I’ve realized that we are doing far less of the history projects (hardly any at this point) because I don’t have the stuff I need for the projects already collected in one place. It’s too hard to find this thing or that, too much trouble to run to the store for something, and far too easy to just skip the project and move on to the next chapter, etc. So, I am collecting all her science stuff now. This way, everything we need for every science project will be on hand. I also plan to go back through her history book within the next few days and make a list of supplies for the projects in the chapters we have yet to cover and collect those supplies, too. To do this up front is a tedious and expensive endeavor, but I feel confident it will be worth the effort.

Tasting Turkish Delight

“Every home school family should have a box of Turkish Delight.” -My friend Anna
The same friend who gave me all those books way back, gave us a box of Turkish Delight today. This is actually a prayer answered, believe it or not. (I pray about everything.) Norah couldn’t wait to try it. She remembers what it did to Edmund, but she also pointed out (mostly to assure herself that it was safe), “The witch’s Turkish Delight was magic.”

Using Math U See Blocks

Norah built the first problem on her math assignment with her Math U See blocks, but as she progressed through the lesson, I noticed that she wasn’t changing those blocks and she still managed to solve all the problems on her page. I asked her to show me how she was doing it. She struggled to explain it on her own but with some coaching from me, she shows you in the video how she can use the same few blocks to solve all the different problems.

“Melon! What did the gods ever invent that was better than a melon, eh? Except two melons…”

-A quote from the character Siduri in “Gilgamesh the Hero” by Geraldine McCaughrean

I have a very distinct memory of being with my fifth grade class on a field trip to the library that was located inside our school. I had never been to the library in my school before that day because I came on the bus in the morning and left school with the buses after school and I had never been given permission to visit the library at any other times during the school days.

My class was herded in. The librarian seemed highly irritated with us. (I think we might have been highly irritating back then, though.) She shushed us constantly and she tried to lecture us on how to use the card catalog (we used real cards in drawers back then), where to find the fiction and non-fiction books, (what fiction and non-fiction meant to begin with), etc. Then, she said that we were allowed to look for one book to check out and… to take home! I couldn’t believe it! I was thrilled! That was the first time I had ever been able to check out a book of my own choice!! I was so interested in books, those glorious, mysterious things…

I was inspired by that library. I liked the sun beaming through the windows, so many windows, all of them with wide window sills big enough for you to sit on, the spotless, cheerful carpets all over the floors, the private study spots everywhere, the broad, clean tables, and most of all, the cozy, funky chairs that sat on the floor just inviting you to sit down with a book. I had never seen chairs like those before. I decided that’s where I was going to sit once I chose my book…

I was confused that day, however, because I had a hard time using reading in the real world: reading the words in the card catalog, finding the right section of the library from the signs, looking for the books in alphabetical order, etc. All the confusion was humiliating, but I kept that to myself.

I ended up choosing a book that had a nice cover. I got in the long line to check it out, waited and waited and waited and as each kid ahead of me went through the line, listened to more lectures about the importance of bringing books back on time, taking care of them, etc.

But, when I was finally through the line and free, I found one of those cozy chairs on the floor. I was thrilled that one of those chairs was still open because the line had taken me so long. This was going to be great! I just knew I would love this reading thing. I had seen other people doing it. I read with my reading group everyday, but this was so different. I opened the book and started to try and understand what I was looking at when the teacher yelled,

“Times up! It’s time to go back to class!”

I was devastated. (I’m not exaggerating.) I was devastated, heart broken, angry, frustrated, so frustrated that I started to cry. I think I might have protested to the librarian and to my teacher, but any argument I managed to utter before being silenced was dismissed and rebuked as rebellion. Of course an immature fifth grader wanted “…nothing more than to waste more class time reading,” etc. etc.

I have never forgotten that experience. I couldn’t articulate what I thought was wrong with my world back then, but I am glad I have the time and freedom and ability to express myself about it now. So, with all that in mind, you can imagine the joy that I felt today when I came walking around some book shelves and saw my daughter in a funky library chair, reading the second book of her choice since the time we had arrived at the library. (Insert a deep, satisfying sigh of relief here.)

My sister gave us a few blank notebooks on one of our visits to South Carolina. I knew we’d be able to put them all to use, I just wasn’t sure how we’d use them all at that time. I turned one of them into a “sketch book” on one of the long drives home (when Norah’s Nintendo DS was out of a charge and she and I both were desperate to find her something to do). This kept her occupied for at least a few hours and even since we’ve been home, I will often catch her drawing in it while she has free time. She will draw with markers, crayons and colored pencils elsewhere, but she never uses anything but a pencil in this book. She seems to enjoy the fact that this book is set aside for simple drawings that are just supposed to capture the ideas in her mind. Here are a few of the pictures inside.