Monday, October 14, 2013

History Tidbit: Feudalism

It took almost two months for Till Year's Good End by W. Nikola-Lisa to become available at my local library. It was worth the wait. There are so many books about knights and castles. There's nothing wrong with those. At the moment I'd say we have a stack of books on those subjects at least a foot high. It's much harder to find books about the lower classes of society. This book is something entirely different from the average medieval picture book which is devoted to glittering armor and formidable defenses. It depicts the class whose labor and servitude made feudalism possible.

The text follows the lives of medieval peasants month by month through a full year. Each month is depicted on a two page spread which begins with four lines of verse that are followed by a paragraph in prose describing the chores and feudal obligations associated with that particular month. The majority of each spread is devoted to a full color illustration by Christopher Manson. His work melds strong definitive strokes with nuanced color. The scenes beautifully depict the various tasks and activities described by the text. You'll be able to point out objects and practices for which your child might not have a mental image. Both art and text are engaging and informative. You won't find extra blurbs or captions. Unlike many nonfiction picture books, text, art, and information are woven together and presented seamlessly. If you're studying the Middle Ages, this is one book you definitely don't want to miss.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Science Tidbit: Natural Cycles

Occasionally  a lot of the time I find awesome things after I put up a post, things that are just too good to hang onto for two or three years until we study the same subject again, which is why I'm going to start posting tidbits. Tidbits are great books, activities, or resources that I want to share with you but either they didn't make it into a post because I hadn't discovered them yet or I simply don't have time to compile an entire book list or unit on that particular subject.

Here's your first tidbit:

There are plenty of picture books about the water cycle, but if you've been looking for a picture book about the carbon/oxygen or nitrogen cycle, you know those are harder to come by. Look no further than Why Do Elephants Need the Sun?  by Robert E. Wells. Using an animal with terrific kid appeal, the African elephant, Wells explores not only the water cycle but the carbon/oxygen cycle as well. He doesn't explicitly address the nitrogen cycle but it would be easy to explain using the illustrations in the book.

Why Do Elephants Need the Sun? would be a great book to introduce during week eight of Classical Conversations cycle 2 when the parts of the sun are introduced because not only does Wells discuss the parts of the sun and how they work but also how the sun drives the water and carbon/oxygen cycles. Astronomy and ecology often remain very separate subjects for young children, all of those distant objects and lights out in space versus the bugs, leaves, and worms it is possible to touch, gather, and collect. Wells does a great job of showing how interconnected the two subjects really are. The text also touches on the planets (week 9) and states of matter (week 13) making it an all around great book to use with your classical kid for reinforcement and review.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Ancient Rome for Little People: a booklist

Created to accompany  the Story of the World Volume 2: The Middle Ages, Chapter 1
Here is an alternative reading list to the one found in the companion activity book to the Story of the World Volume 2: the Middle Ages by Susan Wise Bauer. SugarPlum is in Kindergarten so it's geared toward early elementary students.
  100 Things You Should Know About Ancient Rome by Fiona Macdonald

Engaging illustrations and easy to understand prose. Facts are organized by category. Moves along at a clip which keeps little people engaged but still remains highly informative.
  You Wouldn't Want to Be a Roman Soldier!: Barbarians You'd Rather Not Meet by John Malam

We haven’t read this particular book. I have used multiple titles from this series in SugarPlum’s pre-k and kindergarten curriculum. The humorous approach and cartoon drawings make some of the less pleasant aspects of history accessible to young readers.
  You Wouldn't Want to Be a Roman Gladiator! by John Malam

Told in the second person. Follows the gladiatorial career of a captured Gaul from his enslavement to his untimely and unfortunate end in the arena. Humor and cartoon illustrations enable kids to engage with a tough subject without being overwhelmed.
  Roman Town by Hazel Mary Martell

Cutaway and bird’s eye views illustrate the order, beauty, and everyday life of a Roman Town. Look at the map on pages 10 and 11, then allow your child to choose which part of town they want to explore first.
  Ancient Romans by Daisy Kerr

Short and concise. Lots of illustrations. This series is a favorite at our house.
  Ancient Rome by Peter Chrisp

Even if this book is a bit much to read in it’s entirety, you can still enjoy the fabulous see-through pages and photographs of ruins and artifacts. It does contain an illustration of people fleeing Pompei. So take a peek at it first before you share with very young children.
Most books are available through the Roanoke Valley Library system.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Sneak Peek: Classical Explorations Week 4

This week in Classical Explorations we will be learning about feudalism, Europe, the water cycle, and pronouns.

The Europe Geo Puzzle is fairly complex. We have a small enough group that the kids should be able to work together to complete it. We’ll review country names and bodies of water.
The Medieval Kingdom card game from Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational is a great way to help kids visualize feudalism and the layers of medieval society. If the game rules seem too complex we’ll modify them. 
  We were supposed to read I And You And Don't Forget Who: What Is a Pronoun? (Words Are Categorical) last week but we ran out of time. We’ll read it this week. There is an accompanying coloring page.
  All the Water in the World and Water Dance are two fun poetic picture books that describe the water cycle.
Water: Up, Down, and All Around describes the water cycle in prose with plenty of great illustrations. We’ll be doing an experiment to show how water evaporates, condenses, and falls as precipitation. .
The Coloring page of King John from Kings and Queens of England (Dover History Coloring Book) will probably be a take home project.
I’m planning some fun outdoor games related to our science and skip counting. We’ll also be adding some free play time so the kids can enjoy just getting to know each other and running around. I know a couple of kids are really looking forward to making a sword and helmet to go with their shield. Unfortunately, I accidentally returned the book with those projects to the library. So we’ll have to start those projects next week.