Monthly Archives: November 2011

Social Studies for Owl Moon

After our first reading of Owl Moon we had a lot of good discussion topics to cover. In the book, a young boy (or girl…it doesn’t say and it’s hard to tell) and his father go owling late at night. This was a very special experience for both of them. I asked Elliot to describe a special time he’s had alone with one of his parents. Without a second of hesitation, Elliot told me that his Boston/ New York trip with Josh was his most special experience. They certainly did get a lot of one on one time during that trip and made some great memories.
Then we talked about growth and maturity. The child in the book had to reach a certain age before he could be trusted to come along on the owling adventure with his father. We talked about how there are a lot of experiences in life that we have to wait for until we have grown in maturity. I asked Elliot to think about something he is looking forward to doing that he has had to wait for until he reaches the right maturity level for it and had him write about it.


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Owl Moon

Our last book before Christmas break is Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. We’ll be studying lots of exciting things such as the moon, shadows, woodland animals, animal tracks, and owls.



This book does not give us a specific setting. Elliot and I looked up states that have a lot of wooded areas, a large population of great horned owls, and get a lot of snow and we came up with North Dakota, South Dakota, and Colorado as possible settings. Elliot chose to place our disk on Colorado.

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‘M’ is for Mitten


Book Basket



Those are mittens, if you can’t tell.

We used money to outline our ‘M’. To my surprise, Caroline has learned the names of all the coins. I didn’t teach her that!

More Measuring

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Our Christmas Book Advent

This year we’re starting a new family tradition where we’ll read a Christmas themed story each night from December 1st- 24th. I was so thrilled to find the idea on Pinterest because I just love building family traditions around books! Over the last several weeks, I’ve researched exhaustively to determine what books we would use. Not just any Christmas book would do. I was looking for quality literature that is either entirely about Christ’s birth, weaves His birth into another story, or at least reflects the importance of loving and caring for others. I did not want to use any books that would feed the idea that it is all about getting things. I am so thrilled to have found so many wonderful books. I really feel that the true meaning of Christmas will resound loud and clear with all of our selections. So, with all that said, here is our book list! I will try to update periodically and review some of our favorite books, but considering it’s the holiday season, I may get pretty busy.

1. Mr. Willoby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry

2. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski

3. B is for Bethlehem by Isabel Wilner

4. Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant

5. Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell

6. Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend by Julie Stiegemeyer

7. Night Tree by Cynthia Rylant

8. The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown

9. This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotten

10. The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden

11. The Christmas Tree Ship by by Jeanette Winter

12. The First Christmas by Carol Heyerdahl

13. The Candy Maker’s Gift: The Legend of the Candy Cane by Helen Haidle

14. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by by Gloria Houston

15. The Fourth Wise Man by Susan Summers

16. A Certain Small Shepherd by Rebecca Caudill

17. Cranberry Christmas by Wende Devlin

18. There was no Snow on Christmas Eve by Pamela Ryan

19. The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie Depoala

20. Lucy’s Christmas by Donald Hall

21. Why Christmas Trees aren’t Perfect by Dick Schneider

22. Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck

23. The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Hunt

24. Luke chapter 2 of the Bible


We’re really excited to place these under our tree in just a few days and begin the reading! I’ve also matched several of them up with activities. For example, we’ll start out with Mr. Willoby’s Christmas Tree on the evening we decorate our tree. We’ll get out our Melissa and Doug wooden nativity when we read The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (about a man who carves a nativity from wood) and we’ll read B is for Bethlehem on the evening we go to Journey to Bethlehem. We’ll also do some Christmas baking when we read Cranberry Christmas and we’ll enjoy candy canes while we read The Candy Maker’s Gift.

Just as a side note, you may notice none of these books are about the modern-day Santa (We will read about the real Saint Nicholas.) and that is because we don’t “do” that part of Christmas. We don’t think any less of people who choose to do it (and our kids know not to ruin it for others who enjoy pretending), but we have made the choice not to include it. We have a long list of reasons, but at the top of that list is the strong desire to make Christmas all about Jesus and not invite any confusion about what we are celebrating. We also don’t want to encourage the materialism, greed and self-centeredness that the secular Christmas can often encourage. In addition to all this, we want to build an unwavering trust with the kids and we don’t believe purposely deceiving them will provide a good foundation for that. We want to stand for truth first and foremost.
I know people think our kids will be deprived and miss out on excitement, but that certainly is not the case. Our kids anticipate the joy of Christmas as much as much as any other kids. It’s just not based solely on what they are going to receive. There is still a very wonderful, mysterious, and magical element to Christmas when you really think about what happened in that stable in Bethlehem so many years ago and we want our kids to understand that. With our book collection and several other traditions we’re going to be including year after year, we hope to create a joyous Christmas experience that completely radiates God’s truth and love.

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Thanksgiving Break

So, around here when we take a “break”, we very rarely do nothing. We just enjoy a little bit of deviation from the regular routine. Between now and when we leave for St. Louis on Wednesday, we’re going to be doing some reading on a few different things and will probably try to keep going a bit farther in our read-aloud as well.

In St. Louis we’re going to be visiting the Lewis and Clark Museum, so I thought it would be a good idea to make sure we have plenty of background knowledge on the subject. A few weeks ago Elliot and Josh briefly read about Lewis and Clark in the history book they read together, so he is familiar with them, but I thought we could still learn a bit more.


We’ll also be doing our annual reading of some Thanksgiving books in the few days prior. Sadly, I could not manage to secure Cranberry Thanksgiving from the library in time, as it is very popular and all the copies were checked out. I’m taking it rather hard that we won’t be able to read it, as it was going to be a yearly Thanksgiving tradition. (It’s an out of print book that is really expensive to get, otherwise I would have just bought it..)


Elliot is also finishing up a fiction book about a family that moves west from Kentucky to Kansas in the 1800′s. I am loving how all of our various themes (exploration of the west, Indians, and that time period in the U.S.) seem to all weave together even though I really didn’t plan it this way. It’s so fabulous when that happens!

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Finishing up the letter ‘L’

They made the log cabin from Little House on the Prairie with Lincoln logs.

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Closing the Book on Three Names

We did our final reading of Three Names today. We’ve enjoyed our study of the prairie, and we’ll continue enjoying our read-aloud, Little House on the Prairie until we break for Christmas. For our final activity, I gave Elliot a marble set and taught the kids how to play. (The school children in Three Names play marbles outdoors during their lunch.) Elliot loved it and I have a feeling I will now be tripping over marbles for a long time.




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‘L’ is also for Leaves

How fortunate that we are doing the letter ‘L’ this week and reading all about leaves, while outside all the leaves are turning beautiful colors! We found a great book at the library that shows the various shapes of different kinds of trees’ leaves. Then we went out on a leaf hunt to see if we could find and identify the different kinds of leaves we read about.




We ended up finding the jackpot of autumn leaves!

We went home and pressed some of our favorite leaves between sheets of wax paper.


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‘L’ is for Lion and Ladybug

Our special book of the week is The Lion and the Little Red Bird by Elisa Kleven. It’s a really cute story. I had never read it before and chose to use it, crossing my fingers that it would be a good one.

Here’s what’s in our letter ‘L’ book basket.




We put ladybugs on the ‘L’.


This was a last minute idea that I threw together before lunchtime. Half of a red apple+peanut butter+dried blueberries= edible ladybug!


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Language Arts for Three Names

Today for language arts we reviewed what a simile is and took note of the many examples in the book. We discussed how it helps the reader come up with a vivid mental image when the writer uses a simile to describe something.

Here are some examples we found in the book.

Elliot came up with several of his own examples of similes.


We added “simile” to our Choices Writers Can Make to Add Interest notebook page.


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