Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Science and Nature, for Crayons and Ponytails

So much to choose from here! I'm having a hard time picking and choosing books that will work for both Ponytails and Crayons this fall, and thinking, oh, we should really read this--oh, maybe this one. (Something like the man in Millions of Cats.)

Their main book will be Jeannie Fulbright's Exploring Creation With Botany. I've been wanting to try out one of these elementary-level texts since they came out, so when a copy of Botany came our way I decided to use it this year (and was pleased to find out that Coffeemama's children will be using the same book). Our family science bent tends towards physical rather than natural science, so learning some plant terminology will actually be something new (and, I hope, interesting).

We also have a basket of nature books and a shelf of how-things-work books, but I'm trying to pick out a couple of things for read-aloud times. I had been going to start with Rowena Farre's Seal Morning, but it's almost too close to the kind of book (Crystal Mountain) that we're doing for Travel, so I wanted something other than life-in-another-country, even if it does have a seal in it. We'll read it, just later on or next year. Right now I'm deciding between Grey Owl's Sajo and the Beaver People, and Clara Dillingham Pierson's Among the Forest People, online at The Baldwin Project. How could we not like a book that has this in its first chapter:
When Mr. Red Squirrel first came to the forest, he knew nothing of the way in which they do, and he afterward said that learning forest manners was even harder than running away from his old home. You see, Mr. Red Squirrel was born in the forest, but was carried away from there when he was only a baby. From that time until he was grown, he had never set claw upon a tree, and all he could see of the world he had seen by peeping through the bars of a cage. His cousins in the forest learned to frisk along the fence-tops and to jump from one swaying branch to another, but when this poor little fellow longed for a scamper he could only run around and around in a wire wheel that hummed as it turned, and this made him very dizzy.--Among the Forest People
Sigh. But I do have to decide pretty soon. I think we might go for Mr. Red Squirrel.


Queen of Carrots said...

How close in age are Crayons and Ponytails, and how much do you have them do together? The ducklings are only 15 months apart, and it seems like it will be quite impractical to separate their subjects much at first, but I don't want to discourage or overwhelm D2 (which happened to my 18-months-younger brother, I think, trying to start school when I did.)

Mama Squirrel said...

They are not close in age at all: Crayons is 5, and Ponytails is almost 9. There are a couple of factors to consider, though: Crayons is reading well (she read through the whole The Wizard of Oz by herself this summer, after I had read it to her) and is almost-but-not-quite ready for grade 1 math. When she went on her library "reading marathon" last month, she insisted on copying out most of the book titles herself (in large capitals) to take to the library. I really wasn't sure what I was going to do with her this year; she's already had short "kindergarten times" with me during the last school year, and it seems like it's time for something else.

On the other hand, Ponytails really enjoys having her own school time with me, and she does need to stretch towards upper-elementary work, so including Crayons all the way doesn't seem practical either.

This is what I settled on: two of the things we're using (Geography and Botany) are written for a variety of ages and include hands-on activities as well as reading, so I don't see any problem in doing them together. A few of the other things (Bible, music, picture study) we already do together anyway. We're going to have a read-aloud time in the afternoon, and it's up to Crayons how much she listens (she can play while we read too). She'll also have a 20-minute time with me about 4 days a week, where we work on math and anything else that she needs help with.

So when I say a book or something is for "Ponytails and Crayons," I'm being hopeful that they'll both get something out of it. I'm trying to choose some books that are a little "younger," and some that are more challenging.

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