What We’re Reading–Black History Month

I have a confession to make…I’ve never really done anything for Black History Month, or even black history, in school. Sure, we’ve learned about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, and we’ve studied slavery and Civil Rights in relation to American History, but it was more of a blip than an in-depth study. After we learned about the Negro Leagues last year, and following local events here in St. Louis, I realized that I was doing my children and history a disservice. So I resolved that this February, we would add black studies to our history lessons every week. I looked for books from familiar series (If You Lived, Hero of the Faith, and Childhood of Famous Americans, for example), biographies and autobiographies, and award winners in the Newbery and Coretta Scott King categories. The reading list I came up with starts at the beginning of America as a country, and goes through the Civil Rights Movement. It includes books for early elementary through adult reading levels. Of course it doesn’t cover everything (we only have a month!), but I think it’s fairly comprehensive, and will give us a better understanding of black history in America


What We’re Reading–The Fourth of July

Every summer around Independence Day, I like to make sure that the children are learning about the time of the American Revolution (and the time from about the French and Indian War until about the time of the War of 1812, just to provide some context), even if we’re also doing something else in summer school. We’ve found quite a few books that we all enjoy that focus on that period of time, as well as American symbolism and history in general:

Of course, we have to add a few DVDs to our studies:

And a few CDs, as well:

While we don’t have lots of special activities and crafts in school for this holiday like we do for Thanksgiving or Christmas, it is one of my five favorite holidays of the year, so I like to make sure we’re at least doing a little something special! Stay tuned for details on our Fourth of July tea party!

What We’re Reading–Baseball

Our summer school this year is focusing on the history of baseball, particularly as it pertains to American history. We’ll be looking at things like WWII and the Civil Rights Movement, and the impact they had on our national pastime. I have to admit, the reading list is slightly biased towards the Cardinals, but what can I say…they are “America’s Team!” We’ll also be taking a few field trips…a Busch Stadium tour, a Cardinals game, and a visit to the new Cardinals hall of fame (I warned you that it’s going to be Cardinals biased!). This is one of the most exciting summer school units I’ve planned so far…I can’t wait to get started!

We’ll also be using a few non-book resources for our studies:

And a few movies, just for fun:

  • A League of Their Own
  • Field of Dreams
  • The Natural
  • The Sandlot
  • Bad News Bears

What We’re Reading–St. Patrick’s Day

It’s not a long list, but here are some of our favorite St. Patrick’s Day books:

My Favorite Bookshelf

This is my very favorite bookshelf in our house. It’s completely full, so I don’t know what will happen the next time I get a really good book, but for now, almost all of my favorite books are here. There are a few missing titles, due to their placement on other shelves in the house (like Gone with the Wind), but, in general, this is “comfort reading” at its finest!


Book Review–“Praise God with Banners”

I just realized that I’ve referred to this wonderful resource many times, but never actually reviewed it! Since this book has been so helpful to us, I thought others might like to know about it, as well.

Praise God with Banners

As the name suggests, this is part of the Praise God with… series that CPH publishes (other titles include another family favorite, Paper Plates, as well as Paper Cups, Paper Bags, Shapes, and Puppets). The books are meant for classroom or church use (but are also great for home use!), and are reproducible. All of the patterns are meant to be used on a 9×12 piece of felt or construction paper, to create a personal-sized banner, but are easily enlarged for full-sized banners suitable for classrooms.

The majority of the book is dedicated to banners for the church year, but there are a few ideas for Bible banners, as well. Each banner has a basic design, with suggestions for colors of paper or felt for each piece, and also has additional ideas for extra embellishments, from gemstones and sequins to glitter and yarn. There are also suggestions for phrases and Bible verses appropriate to each banner. The back of the book has a full alphabet and numbers that you can reproduce as templates for whatever words you choose to put on the banner…I used these for some of our banners, and printed off my own fonts for others. There is also a brief “Lesson Connection” for each banner.

This is one of the most useful books we have in our homeschool library. We were able to create a full church year’s worth of banners from the designs, and may make a few more specific ones in the future. Some of the banners we made are almost identical to the plans in the book, while others were created using the book as a jumping off point, and then coming up with our own additions. I used some of the phrase suggestions, and came up with some of my own using words from hymns and other Bible verses for some banners. I also combined and/or repurposed some of the suggestions to make exactly what we wanted for some portions of the church year.

I highly recommend this book to teachers and parents. I’d like to think that even if we weren’t homeschoolers, we’d still have made church year banners for our playroom, to make a solid connection between church and home.

What We’re Reading–British Children’s Literature

Our summer school theme this year is British Children’s Literature (OK, British and U.K. lit) and British history. I realize that my definition of literature and the true definition of literature may be different, but I want to make sure we have a good sampling of the well-known British authors. Here’s a list of books we’ll be reading, either as book basket selections, or read-alouds:

We’ll also be using one book for our British history survey: Our Island Story. We’re going to have a lot of reading to do this summer…I can’t wait!