Pamphlet disguised as a “book”

October 28, 2014 at 1:56 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , )

pamphletTitle: Ultimate Money Management Guide for Kids (I have specifically NOT included the link here, because I am not promoting the purchase of this “book.”)

Author: Gregory O.

*TAKE NOTE* Length: 17 pages

It’s my fault, really.  I never noticed the page length section on the site.  I especially didn’t notice that ebooks state a page length equivalent in that section.  In fact, I’m so blind, I had to LOOK for it after someone told me it was there.  Somehow my eyes have always skipped over it.  Amazon places it there, clear as day.  I just never saw it.

I will never miss it again.  I will always look now.

Ultimate Money Management Guide for Kids is little more than a pamphlet, and is far from “ultimate” or a “guide.”  After all, it is only SEVENTEEN pages long.

It takes about ten to twenty minutes to read (depending on your reading rate – took me roughly 8 minutes total, a good 2 minutes of that was spent trying to figure out where the rest of the book was), and though there are five chapters, they are each short enough to be included in a brochure. The kind you see at seminars or conventions. Instead of being an ultimate guide, I’d consider it a solid introduction to themes you would like to teach.

There are few steps or how-to lists, mostly just conjecture and opinion. Good opinions, mind you, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable promoting this as a personal finance or parenting guide of any kind. Instead it’s a nice conversation starter.

Free ebooks of this title were being passed around several homeschool sites a few weeks back. I consider this an appropriate way to acquire this book. But the kindle format sells on Amazon for $2.99 and I can’t help but wonder how many people have been disappointed by the lack of substance and length for their money.  Not many because the reviews on Amazon are mostly positive.  This surprises me.

In addition to it’s lack of length, there were a few editing hiccups that I urge the author to review. As a writer, I understand all too well the frequency of errant typos (my own first edition has many of them), but in a document that could be considered little more than a lengthy blog post, I’m surprised the errors slipped through.  I’m sure typos appear in my blog as well.  There might be some in this very post because I rarely go through an edit – I’m not an editor.  But I’m also not charging you to read this, so I feel in that regard I have a right to be a little lazy about punctuation placement and grammar choices.  When I start charging $2.99 for you to read my blog, I promise to edit better.  Then again, I’d never do that.

Early in the introduction of the title, the author writes, “Empowering children with good financial education will ensure that they are better prepared for life and all matter finance. It is the responsibility of parents to teach their children about money.” Indeed.  But he spent little time explaining how one should do so.

Gregory O. has some great ideas and on many points I agree with him. The book as a whole would make a marvelous opening speech for a seminar on teaching parents to teach their children about money matters, but it doesn’t stand well alone. I wish O. would have developed the topic more before releasing it as a “book” for sale at $2.99. (I know, I keep repeating this information, but it just hasn’t stopped baffling me.  $2.99 for 17 pages! What?) Lower the price to 99 cents or keep it free and I have little to fuss about, because it serves as a positive starting point for parents to encourage economic intelligence in their children. It simply falls short of what else is being produced in the industry on the same topic.

I’ll take my 8 minutes back, please.

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Censorship vs. Guidance… oh and that other thing called Hoarding

June 22, 2014 at 5:11 pm (In So Many Words) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

P1000938As I clean out my library, I find myself selecting what to discard mostly based on my daughter’s mind rather than my own.  I read Sarah Dunant once, it was interesting, I don’t recall it blowing me away.  Looking at the titles I have, I find myself wanting to keep hardbacks and the Sarah Dunant copies I have are clean, pretty, and one is a hardback.  If I purchased them, which I doubt, it was most likely out of a clearance pile somewhere.  At most I imagine I spent 50 cents or a dollar.

But that is not why I find myself stacking them in the donate to the library pile.  Instead, it is because I find myself thinking – “Is this necessary? Does she need this? Even if it wasn’t necessary, is it important?”  There are scenes in which I’d rather not my child’s brain be muddled with unless it belongs to something epic or beautiful.  Sexual content, murderous content, without a larger than life literary lesson or great impact on the worldview seems so wasteful.

IronweedI sit here with William Kennedy’s Ironweed.  It is a Pulitzer prize winner.  It is the copy I was handed in high school by a teacher who found I had read everything else on the required reading list and then some.  It’s brilliant, I don’t contest that.  But I remember being appalled and annoyed by it.  I remember thinking, “Reading this is not going to make me a better person in any way – AND I’m not particularly enjoying it either.”  The book hoarder in me kept it because it was something I read in high school for class.  I kept it because it was a Pulitzer prize winner.  I kept it under the assumption that maybe I missed something and it was important.

The mother in me finds myself putting it in the library donate pile.  If she wants to read it later, she can check it out at the library – but I only want to keep things in my house that I can either recommend or things that I, myself, haven’P1000937t read yet either.  If I’m going to push crass, horrible people in horrible circumstances onto my daughter, I’ll give her Steinbeck – not Kennedy.  If she needs to read about prostitution, I’d rather give her Moll Flanders and Les Miserables than Slammerskin.  Not to be a chronological snob, I’m just as quick to recommend Girl, Interrupted as a cautionary tale against promiscuity or The Glass Castle and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn concerning the woes and hardships of being low on the socio-economic bean pole.

Most of what is going in the bags are things I find myself with multiple copies of for some inexplicable reason.  James Herriot’s books seem to breed in my house, much like plastic bags from the grocery store do in your pantry.  I swear I only brought home one, but there are three copies of All Things Wise and Wonderful.  Even more perplexing is the fact that I have yet to read anything he wrote.

Anita ShreveThere are piles of Anita Shreve books.  I’ve also never read an Anita Shreve title.  I find the covers used to market her work exceptionally dull.  When I shelved fiction at the bookstore, I cringed whenever I opened a box to find them peering up at me.  Yet, I have copies of these books in my own home.  They never sell, they are in abundance at the library, I find myself walking home with freebies from various places often.  Again, thinking, ‘what if I become terminally ill and somehow run out of reading material.’

Book hoarder recovery 101:  If you aren’t going to read it healthy, don’t anticipate reading it when ill.  Also, someone will probably be willing to go to the library for you should the need arise.

This is hard for me.  Then, of course, I think – is Anita Shreve important or a past time? And if she’s a past time, that is fine, but do I need so many past times lurking in my space?  There comes a point when you are surrounded by so many options, you can no longer choose.  It is too overwhelming and you find yourself at a hole in the wall public library that has fewer options than your own house, just to narrow the selection field.  Maybe one day I’ll read Anita Shreve.  Maybe I’ll love her.  Maybe she’s amazing.  But for now, she’s going in the donate bag.

Yet, I have hardbacks of John Grisham I can’t bring myself to let go.  My twelve year old self still riveted by such drama.  I could argue that it is because many of them are first edition hardbacks, but then there are my paperback coffee house and tea house mysteries that stay on the ready for a good bubble bath or morning on the back porch.  Can’t let those go – yet.

How do you sort your keepers from your donates?

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Life Lessons in Paint

June 15, 2014 at 8:39 pm (Education) (, , , , , , )

HomeschoolP1000786ing is a little more than having a lot of books at your disposal.  Not much more, mind you, because books can answer all life’s questions – but still there’s a little bit more.

Our version of more involves a lot of art supplies.  I wait for great sales, sometimes I even buy used canvases for next to nothing at Goodwill and garage sales and whitewash them, I’ve even been known to pull canvases out of trash cans.  I’m that mom.  One way or another I want to get art supplies into my daughter’s hands, and not the “kid” versionP1000837s – I want her to have real paint, real brushes, and real canvases to work with.

At Christmas we requested that in lieu of toys and other items that will end up donated when she outgrows them or trashed when they are obliterated from use, to gift her art supplies instead.  We’re not depriving her for the sake of enrichment, I assure you.  I believe free play is essential and important.  The girl gets tons of toys on her birthday and throughout the year and has mountains of them.  Does she need mountains of them? No.  Will we use the art supplies? Oh yes.

Thus began our friends and family slowly jumping on board with how we handle our week, our budget, and our holiday requests.  As my daughter started to produce piece after piece (some not shown as they were gifted away prior to me thinking out documenting them)…



She chooses her own colors, even mixes them if she has to and decides which brush she wants to use at any given moment.  P1020187Each piece is entirely her own and we even discuss what she wants to name each one.

Pursuing art in this fashion is a daily exercise in understanding the scientific side of color (what it takes to make a color), as in the beginning we started only with primary colors, though we have been gifted additional ones.  She is learning about texture, movement, and how to convey emotion.

In addition to that, she understands saving and budgeting for things she wants.  How to prioritize certain desires: sometimes she uses birthday money for books, sometimes for toys, and sometimes for her own art supplies.  (Even more often, she opts to put it in the piggy bank or fund an extra trip to Chick-fila.)

It also brings the books we study to life.

Since birth, I have made a point to introduce her to as many of the Getting to Know the World’s Artists as we can get our hands on.  Kiddo has studied Raphael, Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, and more.  She had a board book as a baby of artwork from Rosseau and another from Renoir.  We also love reading “Nature’s Paintbox: A Seasonal Gallery of Art & Verse” by Patrick Thomas and Craig Orback, helping kids to see the world through different art media – ink, pastel, watercolor, oil, etc.

We read through The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Monet’s Impressions: Words and Pictures by Claude Monet” all the time.  She seems to like the Impressionists a lot.P1020191

Which kick started our trips to the lake, taking paints and canvases to paint outdoors like they discuss in one of our favorite art books:

Picture This! “Activities and Adventures in Impressionism,” an Art Explorers book by Joyce Raimondo.  The book is an excellent way to help kids understand art history and how art movements begin.  It introduces real paintings and real painters, and inspires kids to do their own projects.


We also have a book on Frida, called “Frida Maria: A Story of the Old Southwest” by Deborah Nourse Lattimore, because all art forms are welcome in our house, as well as every bit of history we can find.

Which is why we also picked up a copy of “Leonardo: Beautiful Dreamer” by Robert Byrd at the library.  We’ve been reading a few pages of that every day and I could not be more pleased with a picture book.

More than anything in this adventure through motherhood and homeschooling, I’m realizing that so much of ‘homeschooling’ has very little to do with what I know or what I can teach – it’s about granting access to where the knowledge is.  It’s about handing her the tools and giving her the freedom to figure it out, to learn, and discover.  So many times people argue that homeschooling stunts children to only learn what their parents know, when in reality it is quite the opposite.  When they have so much free time, under a little nudge here and some pointers there, children are much more likely to learn to learn for themselves.  A parent’s job, a teacher’s job, is to provide the tools for them to do that.

I didn’t think these things from the get go.  I merely picked up books that caught my attention.  I got her the art supplies initially because I had taken art in high school and my sister has always had natural talent with a sketchbook.  I wanted my kid to get these things in her hands sooner rather than later because I had a lot of anxiety regarding art supplies – I was afraid to be freely creative because I feared being wasteful with something considered semi-precious.   But over the last year and a half of actively putting these supplies in my kid’s hands, I have shaped a philosophy.

Here is a canvas, here is a paintbrush, here are some paints, here are a few books that show you the glorious nature of art throughout history – suddenly, you have a child who is beginning to understand history, humanity, science, and the world at large.  Imagine the implications when I give her the tools to language and math.  The sky is the limit and the list of people who learned to think through information on their own become the inspiration: Einstein, Curie, Alcott, Da Vinci…



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Bouquet of Color

March 7, 2014 at 11:40 pm (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )



Title:  I Love Dirt!

(52 Activities to help you and your kids discover the wonders of nature)

Today, we went for a much needed walk in the woods.  When the weather is nice, we’re out there five days a week.  When the weather is too hot to be nice, we’re out there four days a week.  When the weather is obnoxiously freezing cold, wet, and completely unnatural to a born and bred Texan, we hide indoors and rock back and forth holding our hot coffee and teas.  Well, not quite, but close.  We actually sit by the window and watch the birds eat bits of things we’ve left in the yard, name the squirrels that live in the trees out back, and read stories by the fire burning in the fireplace.


Today, the sun was out for a bit.  It wasn’t quite so cold.  We needed the woods and we needed it bad.  There was cheering involved.

So, we loaded up our trustee going out bag and went for a trek.  Tucked inside was our copy of I Love Dirt and as soon as we hit the trails we read from chapter two: Bouquet of Color.

Bouquet of Color is an exercise in finding flowers and identifying how many colors we can see.  It’s a purely natural I Spy game.

P1010201   We discovered more flowers we would call purple than I would have supposed.  Lots of purple field pansies, baby blue eyes (that look more purple than blue), and even some butterfly peas.  We saw a lot of pointed phlox, but that is categorically considered a ‘red’ wildflower… so maybe we’re a little colorblind because they looked pinkish purple to us.

Of course, there was a lot of yellow in the form of dandelions, but not as many as I would have guessed.   We found a lot of dewberry patches sporting their telling white blooms, and took note of where they were so we could come forage berries come summer.  Yet, tt seemed Kiddo was still shouting “I see purple!” more than any other phrase.

P1010203We were pretty excited about the blossoms on this tree.  See what they look like up close.  Anyone know what it is?

Click this photo to find out…


Sometimes on the trail we get distracted from whatever task is at hand and just enjoy ourselves.  Here she said, “I want to put the sun in my mouth!” I couldn’t resist snapping that picture.


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An Autistic History

February 25, 2014 at 9:29 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

notevenwrongTitle: Not Even Wrong

Author: Paul Collins

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Memoir/ Psychology

Length: 245 pages

I’ve journaled nearly twenty pages of commentary on this book.  Now, having finished it, I’m not sure what I should share and what should be kept to myself.

Collins does a spectacular job sharing memoir with known history, diving into tales from the world and mixing it with tales from his personal world.  The first few chapters are dedicated to his pursuit of Peter the Wild Boy and an existing desire to write a biography on the mysterious boy who was ‘rescued’ by King George. (Reference to the boy made in Notes and Queries, of course.)  Collins later discovers his son is autistic.

The entire book is an ode to his son and his autism.  An ode to their life, their relationship, the world of Autists.

Therefore a lot of information is shared regarding what that means.  A lot of reflection on the gene pool it takes to cook up such a neurological anomaly that is an essential part of humanity as a whole.  The trifecta being science, art, and math.

Collins writes on page 96:

Apparently we have been walking around with the genetic equivalent of a KICK ME sign:

my father: mechanical engineer

jennifer’s father: musician, math major

my brother: phd in computing

jennifer: painter


At this point, I remember taking my own personal inventory.  My father is a civil engineer, not only that he was a musician and painter, and suffers from what I think is undiagnosed and extremely mild tourettes (also discussed in Collins’ book).  My immediate cousins and family members on that side of the family are musicians and scientists.  Some work in labs, some in an engineering field.  Although I’ve been an English and History girl my whole life, much to my father’s chagrin, I was raised by and around extremely scientific minds.  I think I get all the feelings and other eccentricities from my mother’s side.  But in a parallel universe, had I somehow procreated with people I had dated in college rather than the love of my life whom I married – musicians, computer geeks, Synesthesiacs (also discussed in Collins’ book) – I think I was very close to wearing that KICK ME sign as well.

Looking at the world through the eyes of Collins’ research, I think many people have been close to wearing that sign.  I think everyone should read through this book and see just how close.  It’s enlightening.  It’s scary.  It’s beautiful.

There are so many amazing people through out history who have changed the face of humanity – the way we work – integral parts of society and science… and they were very likely autistic.   Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Glenn Gould, Andy Warhol, Paul Erdos.  These people are essential to who we are as a species today.  These people have made our world more beautiful, even though they are very likely to be the same people described on page 109:  “Imagine if you tried to pretend to understand people, but didn’t really.  So you rehearse it all in your head: taking notes, analyzing every social action, trying to connect it all together.”  I don’t have to imagine.  I may not be a genius like Albert Einstein, I may not be as clever as Glenn Gould, and I’m certainly not nearly as eccentric as Andy Warhol – but I know all about rehearsing, taking notes, analyzing, and still feeling quite out of the loop.  A little bit of understanding from the rest of the world goes a long way in my book – even though I’m not so good at understanding the rest of the world, I’m trying to be better about it.

“You know, it used to be that when I saw someone acting or talking strangely, or just being odd on the bus, I’d think to myself: What’s his problem? I still have that reaction.  But now I stop, pause, and have a second thought: No, really, what is that man’s problem? There is a decades-long chain of events that created the person who are seeing.” – pg. 213

Paul Collins brings a little bit of humanity and the importance of curiosity and empathy into ALL his work.  For that I adore him, and will always adore him, forever.

On that note, I want to check out the artwork of his wife.  I love art.  I love paintings.  I am the CMO of an art company called Aoristos and I’m curious to see the style of art the spouse of my favorite author paints.  If anyone knows and can provide reliable links – please do.

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I Love Dirt!

January 7, 2014 at 9:09 pm (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

dirtTitle: I Love Dirt!(52 Activities to help you and your kids discover the wonders of nature)

Author: Jennifer Ward

Foreword: Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods

Illustratator: Susie Ghahremani

I popped in at Half Price Books after a long season off from scheduling book signings.  Tucked low in my employee cube was a book – this book – with a post it note on it from my boss.

“Andi – I thought you might like because of the woods you live by!”

I did like it, immediately.  And bought it with my Christmas money.

The book starts with a riveting foreword about the nature of nature in the United States and how much we have strayed from the outdoors.  Interestingly enough, the more we stray from outdoor life, the more children struggle with obesity, ADD and ADHD, as well as depression.

And the more kids spend outdoors?

“A 2005 study by the California Department of Education found that students in schools with nature immersion programs performed 27 percent better in science testing than kids in traditional class settings.  Similarly, children who attended outdoor classrooms showed substantially improved test scores, particularly in science.  Such research consistently confirms what our great-grandparents instinctively knew to be true, and what we know in our bones and nerves to be right: free-play in natural settings is good for a child’s mental and physical health.  The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees, stating in 2007 that free and unstructured play is healthy and essential for children.”

P1000640I’m in love with this book.  I already do a lot of nature activities with my child – foraging for starters.  We play outside at the public park, we walk nature trails, we run, we jump, do cartwheels in the grass, hunt insects and lizards, sword fight with sticks, and sing our ABCs at the tops of our lungs by the creek.  As Ward states in her introduction, “There is nothing more joyful and inspiring to watch than children discovering the world around them.”

All of the activities in this book are pretty much cost free.  The only one I found that requires any kind of purchase is the bird feeding one, and that’s only if you want to do it big and don’t have spare groceries in your house.  The activities are simple, like sprinkling orange peels in your yard or covering pine cones with peanut butter and bird seed to bird watch from inside when it is too cold to be outside.

The book is broken up seasonally, so you can hop in and do something no matter when you pick up the book.  Each activity has a prompt or a concept to get your child thinking about the activity and world itself.


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Gothic Picture Books

April 24, 2012 at 3:36 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

While picking out picture books, I’m slowly but surely learning that the things that grab my attention may or may not grab Ayla’s, and even if they do grab Ayla’s sometimes maybe I shouldn’t be reading them to her quite yet.

The Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi, is so cool.  Gothic, looks like an old movie, is all black and white, and its just pretty much Edward Gorey style awesome.  Ayla even liked the pictures.  She flipped through them over and over again.  But like Edward Gorey’s ABC book,The Gashlycrumb Tinies, and the ever famous The Old Lady Who Swallowed the Fly (which if you read emphatically so that a child stays interested, it turns very creepy very quickly), there are some stories that should wait until maybe age five or six, instead of 18 months.  Or should they?  I don’t know.  It just seems a little weird to be telling the death tale of a fly by evil spider to my one and a half year old.

Then, there’s books that are simple, like Nosy Rosie by Holly Keller, that are simple: green grass, cute little fox, and a sweet ending.  Ayla loved this one too.

How do you decide what to hand them when?  On one side, I don’t want to be Phoebe’s grandmother on Friends who turned off all the movies before the unhappy ending and the character didn’t know that Bambi’s mother got shot or that Old Yeller died at the end until her thirties.  But neither do I want to be the creepy mother raising her child to disturbing things like “A is for Amy who fell down the stairs,” even though as a teen and adult I find them quite funny.

So again I ask you, how do you decide what to hand them and when?  I suppose the age old dilemma for every parent is based in the fear of warping their child, and when it comes to books I have an even bigger problem because its not just about what my child can handle, its the message I give her when I make the decision.  I don’t believe in censorship, but I greatly believe in reading guidance.

What are some of your favorite ‘gothic’ picture books? When did you decide to share them with your kids?  Or did you let them seek them out themselves?

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The Enrichment of Eric Carle (at Half Price)

February 9, 2012 at 3:05 am (Events, In So Many Words) (, , , , , , )

Today is Wednesday.  Wednesday has a new ring to it now that I’m hosting story time every week at 10:30 am on behalf of Half Price Books in the Humble location’s Half Pint section.

It was a quiet crowd today, only three children munching on the provided snack, listening to Duckie Duck by Kate Toms and Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle, to name a few.  It is always a pleasure seeing the younger crowd fall in love with books and enjoy a calming sit down with the work of our favorite authors, but today I found myself doing what I used to love best about working in a bookstore again – I was educating.

Kids and parents alike enjoy someone guiding them in their discoveries, just as when I am shopping, I too love for retailers to point out their favorites, clerks to tell me what they’ve been reading lately.  Today as I read Mister Seahorse, I got to share the fact that Eric Carle has a museum in Massachusetts, a fact few families seem to know down here in Texas, but almost all respond with wide eyes and dropped jaws.  ‘That sounds amazing!’ I often hear people saying.  I agree, and I plan to take my daughter there one day on a vacation.

The beauty of The Eric Carle Museum, which feeds my desire to take my child there, aside from the art itself, is their mission:

The mission of The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is to inspire, especially in children and their families, an appreciation for and an understanding of the art of the picture book. In fulfilling our mission, we aspire to build bridges to an appreciation of art of every kind and to provide an enriching, dynamic, and supportive context for the development of literacy. We deliver this mission by collecting, presenting and celebrating the art of the picture book from around the world and by providing interactive experiences and programs that are engaging and educational.

Humble HPB Half Pint Section

That same mission, building a bridge of art appreciation and developing literacy, is how I choose my child’s books in the first place.  It’s not enough to have an amazing story but boring art, it’s also not enough to have amazing illustrations and a terrible story.  The building blocks for enriching a child’s mind are in a smooth marriage of those two things and Eric Carle has always seemed to manage that joining.

I hope, by choosing books to read and presenting them to children each week as part of my Event Coordinating duties, Half Price Books can be a venue for which I can share these kinds of books with new minds, and this mission with other parents – at half the price.

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Exposure is Everything

November 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm (In So Many Words) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

My whole life I have been enthralled by the world of books.  As a child, I was an avid reader the school librarian could not keep appeased.  I lived in the worlds of Laura Ingalls, L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and more.  Although I went to college to study business, as soon as I was out I sought a position in a bookstore; my dream was to run the literature section, and I did.  I worked there for some years, fully stocked up my home collection, became the inventory manager, but then had a baby and so left the company.

We have 17 overflowing bookshelves in our house and books stacked on every available end table in between.  I have been gathering up children’s titles throughout my pregnancy until now for my daughter, preparing for a lust of the written word comparable to mine.

People keep warning me that she may not want to read, she may not like it like I do.  They keep telling me I cannot force my child to enjoy my hobbies.

I am not forcing her.  I am making the written word available.  She sees books everywhere, she sees people enjoying books everywhere.  In addition to our own collection that we read from every day, we visit the public library for group readings and she sees people outside her family unit gathering to enjoy a book.

My daughter is one year old, and already she often chooses Eric Carle over a stuffed animal.  She brings me Rainbow Fish and expects me to read it aloud while she sorts her blocks.  It seems sometimes as though she is not actually listening, just sorting her belongings, until I stop reading and she looks up and points at the book.  My daughter sorts through her picture books and flips through the pages, she even has her own little cushioned rocking chair she climbs into to do it.  She rocks and pretends to read while I lounge and read in our library in our house.

My daughter loves books, and I am both amazed and proud.  I implore the world to make books available to their children from a young age.  Read aloud to them, they cannot help but be interested and thirsty for stories and knowledge.

Get Your Kid Started!

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Home-School Curriculum

March 15, 2010 at 5:02 pm (In So Many Words, The Whim) (, , , , , , , , )

Please read this post in its entirety before you judge.

I’m a be prepared kind of person. So even though I don’t have any kids, I want to be prepared if and when I do. With that in mind, I’d also like to say that I truly believe in the old saying (Marx was it?) that “the hand the rocks the cradle rules the world” and that if we are bothering to spit children out of our bodies, we should be prepared to be well invested in their lives AND their education. For some people, the best they can do is sending their child to learn from someone else, whether it be public school, private school, or private tutoring. I believe that a healthy combination of many things including home schooling would be best I can do for my children.

In this post, I want to share my planned curriculum/ education plan for my children. I’m posting it because I want input. I want my fellow bloggers to pipe in and tell me what’s its missing, what they would add, etc.

So… take a look:

The Lesson Plan (2nd edition)

Staples to be exposed to: A bible verse a week, two hours of reading a day (minimum), two hours of exercise a day, one hour of cleaning or gardening a day, never more than one-two hours of television/movies per day on average.

Try to include one audio lesson per week that changes from subject to subject… perhaps a book on CD once a month.

A possible minimum of 200 volumes to read per year… count it up once the lesson plans are more specific, like the Darwin and Egypt Studies.

Ages 2-3
• 2 15 minute Kung Fu lessons through out the day
• ABC’s, 123’s, etc.
• Learn a new bible verse each week (or segments of verse)
• Practice singing various songs
• Story time for as long as you can get them to listen
• Incorporate daily “art time”

Age 4
• Start McGuffy’s primer
• Basic addition and subtraction (using objects)
• Start 30 minute Kung Fu lessons a day
• Once a week nature walks, berry picking, plant and animal identification
• Learn new bible verse each week, Ten Commandments
• Singing time
• Story time for at least thirty minutes a day
• Daily art time
• Reading to include:
All the Beatrice Potter books
All the Dr. Seuss Books
Mercer Meyer Books

Age 5
• McGuffy’s first and second reader
• 30 minute Kung Fu lessons every day
• Learn basic Chinese words, purchase Chinese lessons on audio
• Learn basic Spanish words, purchase Spanish lessons on audio
• Learn new bible verse each week, Beatitudes
• Singing time, basic music lessons, early piano
• Once a week nature walks, berry picking, plant and animal identification
• Learn to make tarts and pies with the berries, include basic arithmetic with kitchen supplies
• Daily art time
• Take turns reading stories to each other for an hour a day
• Reading to include:
The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
The Little House on the Prairie series – Laura Ingalls Wilder
Grandma’s Attic series – (research and buy)
Beverly Cleary books
• History and science lessons to correspond with questions asked… ie:”Mommy, where do bricks come from,” sit down and do research on the topic. Keep track of such questions and research adventures in a notebook and incorporate them into fun games the following week to keep the things fresh in their mind, but unassociated with the question. Have them make up a story about a brick maker and an adventure he had, etc.
• Organize once a month field trips to places like the zoo or the museum.

Age 6
• McGuffy’s third reader
• 45 minute Kung Fu lessons every day
• Continue with basic Chinese and Spanish
• Start American Sign Language
• Start basic Latin
• Music theory, piano lessons, and fun singing time
• Continue once a week nature walks and baking parties, in these get more focused and researched with science and math lessons. Go into detail on how water boils and bread rises, the science of heat, talk more about the math behind cooking. On nature walks talk about all the plants, the science of those plants, their origin, how to use them in the kitchen. Also, in the kitchen, teach them to tell time and utilize a timer.
• Continue reading out loud to each other for an hour a day and memorizing a bible verse once a week.
• Continue once a month field trips.
• Basic anatomy
• Daily art time, creative assignments pertaining to anything we’ve read or started learning.
• Reading to include:
Amelia Bedelia books
Max and Me and the Time Machine
Louisa May Alcott
Let the Circle Be Unbroken seriesluding a twenty-six word spelling and definition list every week (one word from each letter of the alphabet, go in order)
• Start a basic Spanish vocabulary list each week as well, 10 words a week.
• 1 hour Kung Fu lessons a day, to include the work out as well as Chinese history and philosophy.
• Piano lessons with Stephen, find a children’s choir to join or look into local children’s theatre
• Continue once a month field trips.
• History lessons to include: Susan Wise Bauer’s History of the World and historical fiction books
• Each month we’ll pick an animal to study… what they eat, where they’re from, different names people use for them all over the world, they way they move, how they affect humanity
• Continue learning a new bible verse each week.
• Continue reading to each other for an hour a day.
• Swimming lessons in the summer.

Age 8
• McGuffy’s fifth reader
• Enroll in Kung Fu lessons at Davey’s school
• Piano lessons, children’s choir, children’s theatre activities if they like
• Reading to include:
The Looking Glass Wars Trilogy
Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
The Lord of the Rings series
• Continue with basic Latin, basic Spanish, basic Chinese, and ASL
• History lessons to be included topically with books we read and languages studying. Also read Susan Wise Bauer’s History of the World.
• Start working through basic Science texts (use the textbooks as a loose outline to collect interesting literature on those topics)
• Spend an hour every other day with math assignments
• Go to first Kung Fu tournament, continue going every third month if they enjoy them
• Start multiplication tables
• English Grammar, start including a twenty-six word spelling and definition list every week (one word from each letter of the alphabet, go in order)
• Continue learning a new bible verse once a week.
• Continue once a month field trips.
• Continue once a month animal studies… what they eat, where they’re from, different names people use for them all over the world, they way they move, how they affect humanity, and how humanity affects them.
• End of year project on any topic.

Age 9
• Archery classes
• Do a Native American Indian Study
• Native American Legends and practices
• Camping trip, teach to fish
• Have the multiplication table memorized
• Master division and word problems
• Find/hire a Spanish teacher or kids Spanish classes
• Continue listening to Chinese audio lessons
• Continue Piano lessons
• Continue Latin and ASL lessons
• Reading to include:
The Wrinkle in Time Series – Madeleine L’engle
The Prince and the Pauper – Mark Twain
The Five Little Peppers and How they Grew – Margaret Stewart?
• English Grammar, cont. including a twenty-six word spelling and definition list every week (one word from each letter of the alphabet, go in order)
• Continue learning a new bible verse once a week
• Continue once a month field trips
• Continue Kung Fu lessons
• Continue once a month animal studies… what they eat, where they’re from, different names people use for them all over the world, they way they move, how they affect humanity, and how humanity affects them.
• Make sure we have covered basic TX and U.S. History (have all the president’s memorized).
• End of year project on anything.

Age 10
• Continue Kung Fu and Piano lessons, along with any activities they enjoy that go along with that (ie: tournaments, recitals).
• Continue learning one bible verse a week.
• Continue with Spanish, Latin, and ASL lessons.
• Go to Deaf Fest.
• Mastery of Fractions.
• Continue once a month animal studies… what they eat, where they’re from, different names people use for them all over the world, they way they move, how they affect humanity, and how humanity affects them.
• Obtain a fifth/sixth grade curriculum for science and history to be covered, or write own.
• Study the weather, climates, environment, etc. Spend the year completing a 20 page assignment on any major weather event in all of history. Combine the 12 animal studies from the year into this assignment by including information on how those 12 species were affected (or not affected) by the major weather event.
• Enroll in any electives desired at the middle school (second half of being ten).
• Cover lots of music and art history, as well as basic European history (summer vacation in England).
• Start reading the Get A Grip On… series. We own Evolution, Ecology, Astronomy, and New Physics.
• Reading to include:
Harry Potter – J.K. Rowling
Anne of Green Gables series – L.M. Montgomery
I am Charlotte Doyle – Avi
The Giver – Lowry
The Phantom Tollbooth – Junger

Age 11
• Start covering the Russian alphabet, start mastering basic Russian vocabulary, study Russian culture and history. Spend the year completing a 30 page research paper on Russia. Learn to cook Russian dishes. Vacation in Russia.
• Buy a Rosetta Stone for Russian.
• Continue translating basic Latin texts.
• Spanish and Latin lessons should be conversational, translate history and science lessons into Spanish and Latin and then back to English again.
• At some point in time I want to include Hebrew lessons
• History reports due once a month, pick their own topic out of lessons covered (2-3 pages).
• History lessons would include three sessions of reading and researching a week and two history channel selections that tie into the topic of each week.
• Spend a year putting together a “States” project together; include a 1-2 page written assignment on a state event that had/has international impact. Include a 10 page paper on the state that they find most interesting. Include in depth study on the presidents, their wives and their significance.
• Field trips to the beach, summer swim team if interested.
• Science: the equivalent of sixth grade basic science – Home-school or public school science classes for labs and such.
Read Get a Grip on Ecology
Study basic botany and whatnot
• Choose a sport at the middle school to join, or continue with Kung Fu training, or both.
• Start using modules (like from middle school) for math lessons, mastery of each topic before moving on.
• Reading assignments to include:
Invitation to the Game
Push Cart Wars – Jeanne Merril
Robinson Carusoe – Daniel Defoe
Robin McKinley books
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle books
A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
Remaining Harry Potter books
• 50 Book Challenge every year. Shelfari account and reviews on each book read.
• Continue memorizing one bible verse a week, but now include in depth word studies, meaning, history, and context of the verses.
• Piano lessons continue, unless they want to pick up another instrument (more than welcome to join the middle school band).
• Health, Kinesiology, Grey’s Anatomy and whatnot

Age 12
• Hire a Russian tutor
• Continue a sport. Continue musical instrument. Begin voice lessons if interested.
• Spend the year studying the Chinese culture. 35 page report due at the end of the year. Read through Kung Fu: History, Philosophy & Technique. Vacation in Taiwan.
• Study the nature and history of the Asian religions. Study Chinese poetry. Include discussions on our worldview.
• Begin reading through the U.S. History List
• 5 page once a month history reports due on any topic, 3 of these assignments through the course of the year may be incorporated into the 35 page China report.
• Reading to include:
Dai Sijie, go through his writing together, discuss worldview
• Astronomy, spend the whole year on stars and planets – field trip to NASA with friends. Space Camp?
• Pre-Algebra modules.
• Continue once a week bible verses and 26 word vocabulary tests.
• 10 page animal report on animal of choice, incorporate information on how the stars and planets affect this animal. Find out if this animal is part of any of the astrological charts and discuss metaphysical ideas and world view.
• Take Chinese calligraphy classes together somewhere.
• Egypt Studies (refer to the JARS Egypt project/ Appendix)… these studies will overlap ages 12-13 and take 4-6 months or as long as interest in subject is maintained
• Field trips to Museums are a MUST

Age 13
• Start Greek lessons
• Algebra modules
• Once a month 6 page history reports due on any topic.
• Geology, field trips to include rock climbing and natural science museums. Include introductory topographic map information to lead into age 14 topographic map stuff.
• Additional reading material:
Yearning for the Land: A Search for the Importance of Place – John Warfield Simpson
The Map that Changed the World – Simon Winchester
• Continue studying musical instrument, Continue playing or practicing a sport.
• Continue bible studies. Go through the history of Christianity up through the Roman Catholic Church.
• History lessons would transition from our Egypt study into Alexander the Great and the Greek/Roman period.
Possibly include the Manfredi trilogy
• Greek History, Greek Mythology. Architectural and cultural studies. 40 page end of year report. Vacation in Greece.
• Read The Illiad and The Odyssey together.
• Reading to include Bauer’s Novels:
Cervantes – Don Quixote
Bunyan – Pilgrim’s Progress
Swift – Gulliver’s Travels
Austen – start with Pride and Prejudice, if we can’t fit ALL of Austen we must include Northanger Abbey
Dickens – Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, Nicholas Nickleby
Bronte – Jane Eyre
Hawthorne – The Scarlet Letter, House of Seven Gables
Melville – Moby Dick
Stowe – Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Flaubert – Madame Bovary
Dostoyevsky – Crime and Punishment
Tolstoy – Anna Karenina
Hardy – The Return of the Native
James – The Portrait of a Lady
Twain – Huckleberry Finn
Crane – Red Badge of Courage
Conrad – Heart of Darkness
Wharton – House of Mirth
Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby
Woolf – Mrs. Dalloway (read Michael Cunningham’s The Hours together)
Kafka – The Trial
Wright – Native Son
Camus – The Stranger
Orwell – 1984
Ellison – Invisible Man
Bellow – Sieze the Day
Garcia Marquez – One Hundred Years of Solitude
Calvino – If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler
Morrison – Song of Solomon
Delillo – White Noise
Byatt – Possession
A Separate Peace and Peace Breaks Out – John Knowles

Wizard of Oz and Maguire’s Trilogy, also see the musical “Wicked”

Literary Criticism Assignment for the year: Discuss Fantasy vs. Reality, What literary pieces throughout history have focused on fantasy vs. reality? What novels have skewed your idea of reality? Include a study in pop culture when a novel or set of novels have skewed the public’s view of fantasy and reality? (Twilight, Harry Potter, pretty much any book fad, follow the rise of the book in culture, the economic value, quote reviews, and find any/all statistics regarding behavior directly or indirectly related to the fad.)

• Start studying plays and theatre history, as well as films and film history.
• Cover a brief stint on writing, creating, and publishing:
Penguin Special – Jeremy Lewis
Learning a Trade – Reynolds Price
Infamous Scribblers – Eric Burns
• Continue taking any electives that the public schools offer.
• Go through 365 Intellectual book together.
• Dickens on the Strand and Ren Fest every year.

Age 14
• Bauer’s List to be read on Monday’s and Wednesdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays are to cover all other material, Friday’s schoolwork will be determined on a weekly basis
The Story of Me: Autobiography and Memoir – PART TWO of The Well-Educated Mind
Augustine – The Confessions
Margery Kempe – The Book of Margery Kempe
Michael de Montaigne – Essays
Teresa of Avila – The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself
Rene Descartes – Meditations
John Bunyan – Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners
Mary Rowlandson – The Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration
Jean-Jacques Rousseau – Confessions
Benjamin Franklin – The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Henry David Thoreau – Walden
Harriet Jacobs – Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself
Frederick Douglas – Life and Times of Frederick Douglas
Booker T. Washington – Up from Slavery
Friederick Nietzche – Ecce Homo
Adolf Hitler – Mein Kampf
Mohandas Gandhi – An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth
Gertrude Stein – The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
Thomas Merton – The Seven Storey Mountain
C.S. Lewis – Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life
Malcolm X – The Autobiography of Malcolm X
May Sarton – Journal of a Solitude
Aleksandr I. Solzhenistyn – The Gulag Archipelago
Richard Rodriguez – Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez
Jill Ker Conway – The Road from Coorain
Elie Wiesel – All Rivers Run to the Sea: Memoirs

• Geographical mastery: memorize locations of every significant country on the globe. Study topographic maps, pick twelve countries not already studied and write a ten page report on each. Include topographic information, and create a topographic map of at least one region.
• History to cover all the third world countries being memorized and the history of map-making.
• Additional reading material:
• One page animal report including information on how the topography/terrain of their homeland affects them and their lifestyle to be tacked onto the end of each country’s report… the animal must be from/found in that country.
• A Study of Mormonism and various occults and secret societies around the world. Go in depth. Include the various occult studies in the geographical, political, and economic studies of the third world countries verses America. Discussions on our world view. Cultural aspects of religion and money, how one affects the other and whether it should or not.
Books on Mormonism, Freemasons, The Templars, etc.
• Darwin Study – see appendix
• Darwin Study to lead into Biology I material
• Additional reading material:
The Anthropology of Turquoise: Meditations on Landscape, Art, and Spirit by Ellen Meloy
• Geometry
• Continue utilizing Shelfari
• Start looking through writing competitions for college scholarships
• Choose any language to pursue.
• Pick the country, set up a budget, and schedule the family vacation.
• Choose any electives or regular courses at the public school.
• Continue bible verses and historical/contextual studies.
• Continue sport and music lessons of choice… join the public school choir? Or band?

Age 15
• Bauer’s List to be read on Monday’s and Wednesdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays are to cover all other material, Friday’s schoolwork will be determined on a weekly basis
The Story of the Past: The Tales of Historians (and Politicians) – PART THREE of The Well-Educated Mind
Herodotus – The Histories
Thucydides – The Peloponnesian War
Plato – The Republic
Plutarch – Lives
Augustine – The City of God
Bede – The Ecclesiastical History of the English People
Niccolo Machiavelli – The Prince
Sir Thomas More – Utopia
John Locke – The True End of Civil Government
David Hume – The History of England, Volume V
Jean-Jacques Rousseau – The Social Contract
Thomas Paine – Common Sense
Edward Gibbon – The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Mary Wollstonecraft – A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
Alexis de Tocqueville – Democracy in America
Karl Marx and Friedrick Engels – The Communist Manifesto
Jacob Burckhardt – The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy
W.E.B. Du Bois – The Souls of Black Folk
Max Weber – The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
Lytton Strachey – Queen Victoria
George Orwell – The Road to Wigan Pier
Perry Miller – The New England Mind
Joh Kenneth Galbraith – The Great Crash 1929
Cornelius Ryan – The Longest Day
Betty Friedan – The Feminine Mystique
Eugene D. Genovese – Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made
Barbara Tuchman – A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein – All the President’s Men
James M. McPherson – Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich – A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard
Francis Fukuyama – The End of History and the Last Man
• Algebra II
• Chemistry
• Continue sport and music lessons of choice
• Continue lingual studies
• Interested in any certifications?
• Interested in any activities at the public high school?
• Go through European literature and history
• In depth study on Catholicism all the way up to Martin Luther. The History of the protestant and catholic churches, how that affects America historically and politically. Discussion of our World View. Read ALL C.S. Lewis material.
• 50 book European literature/history challenge in chronological order of history itself…
To include:
Man of Blessing: A Life of St. Benedict – Carmen A. Butcher (H)
Autobiography of Henry VIII – Margaret George (FIC)
The Constant Princess – Philippa Gregory (FIC)
Mary Queen of Scots – Margaret George (FIC)
Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire – Amanda Foreman (H)
Horatio Hornblower series – C.S. Forster (FIC)
• Vacation in Europe, go backpacking this time
• Additional Reading to include:
Age 16
• Bauer’s List to be read on Monday’s and Wednesdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays are to cover all other material, Friday’s schoolwork will be determined on a weekly basis
• Bauer’s Part Four: Plays
• Pre-Cal/Trig
• Physics, read the Get A Grip on New Physics book.
• First aid and CPR certified
• Interested in any activities at the public high school?
• Continue sport and music lessons of choice
• Start taking college courses at the community college or AP Duel Credit at the High School or a mix of both: English, History, Macro-Economics and Government
• In depth study of sexuality, culture, nature vs. nurture and political stand points. Discussion of world view. Include in depth scientific research.
Jeffrey Euginedes’ Middlesex
Wesley Stace’s Misfortune
Ovid’s Metamorphosis
Recall Mrs. Dalloway and The Hours
• In depth study of art history and the relationship between sexuality, religion, and politics with art.
• Vacation to country of interest (tie into art)

Age 17
• Bauer’s List Part Five – Poetry
• Margaret George’s Helen of Troy to accompany the re-reading of The Illiad
• Calculus, Business Calculus
• Read A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Narr
• Biology II
• Anatomy
Complete Grey’s Anatomy
Find the Anatomy Color Books
• English II
• Micro-Economics through the college
• History II…. Any or all of these can be taken at the community college or mixed with AP Duel Credit classes at the High School, whichever they prefer.
• Continue with any sport and/or music lessons
• Continue with their language courses
• Really start making their own plans

By Age 18
I hope to send them out into the world with an associate’s degree and a rock solid understanding of all religions and faiths. From there, they can choose whatever they wish/ God has led them to: more education, whatever job opportunities, more travels, missions, work with their father (whether Jon is still a millwright or if we’re running our own businesses). The garage apartment would be built for them to live at home if they like for minimal rent fees (give them benefits without making them irresponsible).

Feedback desired and encouraged.

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