Friday, October 26, 2007

I Just Ordered Math-U-See!

Mid-year switcheroo! I just placed an order for Math-U-See!

We are currently using RightStart (Lesson 60-something) and I love it to pieces. I think it is a fabulous curriculum, it's just not working that well for my son. He just doesn't like the abacus, he's having a really hard time learning to add and can not visualize the abacus and he actually hates using it. And he doesn't like the card games either! So, he's not having any fun and we are not getting anywhere.

Anyway, I ordered the sample dvd from Math-U-See and it arrived the other day. As I was watching it ds (7yo) came in and started watching it with me and wanted to know what it was. Why was that guy using big Legos for math? Is this going to be his new math? Can we get it? He got pretty hyped watching the dvd! So after viewing the dvd, the catalogue, the website, there doesn't seem to be a huge difference between Math-U-See and RightStart. They both seem to have the same philosophy and teach things the same way, just using different manipulatives. I'm thinking the blocks are going to be a better fit with ds than the abacus and I really like all the practice that comes with MUS. RS just doesn't have much in the way of practice except through the games and when your ds hates the games there's not much left. His favourite part of RS is doing the worksheets and they are few and far between.

Wish us luck!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Read Aloud #53 - Flossie & The Fox

Flossie & the Fox by Patricia C. McKissack
illustrated by Rachel Isadora

Pages: 32
Finished: Oct. 23, 2007
Reason for Reading: we are learning about foxes in our curriculum, WP AW, and added this book.
First Published: 1986
Genre: children's picture book, folk tale
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

"Flo-o-o-ossie!" The sound of Big Mama's voice floated past the cabins in Sophie's Quarters, round the smokehouse, beyond the chicken coop, all the way down to Flossie Finley."

Comments: An African-American deep South version of the traditional Red Riding Hood fairy tale. In this rendition Flossie is taking a basket of eggs to a neighbours house and is met by a Fox in the woods. Flossie refuses to believe he is a fox, since she's never seen one before, and the fox tries to prove himself to her. This is a picture book with a lot of text and what beautiful language in this wonderful tale. Told in a rural Black dialect the words are vivid. Both the text and the illustrations convey a sense of mischief that builds until the last hilarious page. The 7yo was laughing out loud and so proud of Flossie at the end of the tale. Highly Recommended.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Read Aloud #52: Bub, Snow, and the Burly Bear Scare

Bub, Snow, and the Burly Bear Scare by Carol and Bill Wallace
illustrated by John Steven Gurney

Pages: 118
Finished: Oct. 19, 2007
Reason for Reading: Picked this up at the library simply because it looked good
First Published: 2002
Genre: animal fantasy
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

Tiny specks of ice filled the air and bit into my hide.

Comments: I hadn't heard of this book nor had I ever read a book by the Wallaces before but the cover was cute and the Wallaces have written a lot of books so I thought it was worth trying. Bub and his mother travel to the valley for the winter and meet up with other creatures of the forest including a nearby people family and a grouchy bear. We really enjoyed this book and it won't be the last we read by the authors. This is actually a sequel to another book but read as a stand-alone nicely. This is a talking animal story but is not fantastical at all, the animals are very much regular animals and we learn a lot about the forest wildlife as the mother teaches young Bub. Many funny scenes and the characters were adorable. My favourite was a horse on the farm who wasn't originally from the valley but came from "The Valley", and talked like a Valley Girl. My son's favourite was the grumbling beaver who was still working on his lodge even though winter had already come. Recommended for 7-9 year olds.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Read Aloud #51: Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
illustrated by Hilary Knight

Pages: 119
Finished: Oct. 17, 2007
Reason for Reading: I read this to my older son when he was about the same age, and I was pretty sure ds7 would enjoy it too.
First Published: 1947
Genre: children, fantasy, humour
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

I expect I might as well begin by telling you all about Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle so that whenever I mention her name, which I do very often in this book you will not interrupt and ask, "Who is Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle? What does she look like? How big is she? How old is she? What color is her hair? Is her hair long? Does she wear high heels? Does she have any children? Is there a Mr. Piggle-Wiggle?"

Comments: This is a hilarious, rollicking-good-fun read aloud. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle lives in an upside-down house and knows everything there is to know about children. She also has the most wonderful cures for common childhood ailments such as won't-pick-up-toy-itis and won't-take-a-bath-itis. Told in an episodic format, each chapter is it's own little story. I believe some of the chapters have been published as picture books also. My 7yo enjoyed this very much. We both laughed out loud and both have the same favourite chapter which is the story of the little girl who wouldn't wash and ended up having radishes growing out of her forehead. I've read this book several times now but haven't read any of the sequels but I think I may have to change that. I also must mention that the Hilary Knight (best known for the Eloise books) illustrations are adorable.

Dad has just finished reading the 15th Magic Tree House book, Viking Ships at Sunrise, and they have decided that it's time to move on from this series.

We haven't finished any non-fiction since the last update.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

War of 1812 Re-enactment

We had a fabulous day today!

195 years ago on this very date, Oct. 13 1812, the Battle of Queenston Heights was fought. Today we went to the re-enactment. People from all over Canada and the US came today to re-enact the battle on the very same day on the very same soil. Here are a few pictures I took.

War of 1812 Re-Enactment

War of 1812 Re-Enactment

War of 1812 Re-Enactment

War of 1812 Re-Enactment

War of 1812 Re-Enactment

War of 1812 Re-Enactment

Friday, October 5, 2007

Read Aloud #49 - Ereth's Birthday

Ereth's Birthday by Avi
Fourth in the Tales from Dimwood Forest

Pages: 196
Finished: Oct. 5, 2007
Reason for Reading: scheduled reader for WP AW
First Published: 2000
Genre: children's animal fantasy
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

In Dimwood Forest, in the dark, smelly log where the old porcupine Erethizon Dorsatum lived, Ereth--as he preferred to call himself--woke slowly.

Comments: Ereth happens upon a mother fox caught in a trap who pleads with him to look after her kits. After she dies Ereth, much to his chagrin, accepts the task but unbeknownst to him he is being stalked by Marty the Fisher. This is top-notch animal fantasy, it doesn't get much better than this! The fourth in a series is just as incredible as the previous entries. This book can also be read independently from the series (or out of order) as it revolves around a different character than the others. The 7yo was captivated with this book, he couldn't wait each day for our reading and I was cajoled into reading 3 chapters a day instead of our usual two. We laughed, we cried, we highly recommend this book!

No other books have been finished since my last post. We did start The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman but after 7 (very short) chapters ds said he was NOT enjoying it so we decided to put it aside.

Check out the side bar to see what we are currently reading

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Read Aloud #48 - The House at Pooh Corner

The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
illustrated by Ernest Shepard
Sequel to Winnie-the-Pooh

Pages: 181
Finished: Oct. 2, 2007
Reason for Reading: We enjoyed Winnie-the-Pooh so much we had to read this sequel
First Published: 1928
Genre: children's classic, fantasy
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

One day when Pooh Bear had nothing else to do, he thought he would do something, so he went round to Piglet's house to see what Piglet was doing.

Comments: This sequel is just as endearing and beautiful as the first story of Winnie-the-Pooh. This is the book in which we meet Tigger and all the friends we are familiar with are now together. The 7yo enjoyed this tremendously and we experienced many laugh-out-loud moments. The language in the book is simply beautiful. This is a book which demands to be read aloud. Ever since we started reading the Pooh books we've found him becoming a part of our lives. My son likes to make up little songs and now he says he just feels a little 'hummy' like Pooh. The ending is so sweet and I found myself all teary-eyed as I read it. This is a book that will stay with us forever. A must read!

Dad has finished reading the 14th Magic Tree House book The Day of the Dragon King and they are both still going strong with this series.

In non-fiction we finished Animals and Their Young (one of our WP AW books). This is the reveiw I wrote for LibraryThing

A solid entry in the Animal Behaviour series. This one is not as visually appealing as the previous book in the series we read. The colours are very subdued, browns, tans, greys. Much more text per page than is necessary causing the 7yo to zone out occassionally. But otherwise a decent enough book to cover the topic. The 7yo particularly enjoyed the pages which described what his life would be like if he were certain baby animals.