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!

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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!

Book Review–“Dressing the Queen”

I mentioned Dressing the Queen: The Jubilee Wardrobe by Angela Kelly a while back, and I’m finally getting around to reviewing it. In short, if you’re a fan of fashion, or Queen Elizabeth II, or history, you’ll love this book!

It’s filled with beautiful pictures of fabrics:

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And jewelry:

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And pictures that show the amazing detail that goes into every aspect of the Queen’s wardrobe:

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There are also sketches created by Angela Kelly:

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And some photos that can only be described as whimsical:

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One of my favorite parts of the book is a picture of the Queen in what can only be described as a “casual” pose…as casual as you can be when you’re Queen, anyway!

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Pictures aside, this book is full of information. You’ll learn what kind of fabrics are used, and during which season, and where the fabrics come from. Some of them are quite old! You’ll learn what the team of dressers actually does, and how they keep track of what the Queen has worn in the past.

There are also sections on hats and accessories, which are fascinating. And the care of the Queen’s wardrobe is also discussed, as is packing it up for a trip, big or small. No book about the Queen’s wardrobe would be complete with a section on her jewelry, and there is a nice representation of the different gemstones she favors in photographs. I was very interested to learn how the jewelry is presented to the Queen every day!

A big section of the book is naturally dedicated to the Diamond Jubilee wardrobe, as the subtitle suggests. Of course, the famous three outfits of the Jubilee weekend are shown, but so are less-known outfits, like the ones worn to the Royal Windsor Horse Show, the Sovereign’s Lunch, and the Royal Ascot. And the Queen’s “Bond Girl” dress from the Opening Ceremonies of the London Olympics is discussed in great detail!

Dressing the Queen is both beautiful and informative. It is practically unheard of for a member of the Queen’s staff to be given permission to write a book about his or her job, which makes this a very special, unique item, with a very unusual perspective. I highly recommend it!

Some Inspiration for St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day, one of my five favorite holidays, is almost here! If you’re looking for a little inspiration, here are some fun things we’ve done in the past, plus a few Irish-themed dessert recipes!

The Leprechaun Trap

Other books and activities

Irish Cream Cheesecake

Chocolate Irish Cream Cheesecake

Guinness Cake

And, a list of fun books to read around St. Patrick’s Day:

Shamrocks, Harps, and Shillelaghs

The Night Before St. Patrick’s Day

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland

St. Patrick’s Day

Leprechaun in Late Winter

St. Patrick’s Day Alphabet