Fantasy Maps: Imagined Worlds

Yesterday, the children and I hopped on the train into downtown St. Louis so we could visit the big Central Library.

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While I’ve been meaning to take the tour there for quite some time, I really wanted to see the maps exhibit they currently have on display. We started in the Great Hall (which I learned used to be called the “Delivery Room”), where they have covered the floor with a whimsically illustrated map of St. Louis. While most of the pictures are easy to identify, there is also a legend on the wall, giving the history behind every location. We were able to find almost all of our favorite St. Louis places…except for Seamus McDaniel’s and the Missouri Botanical Garden!

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There were also a few maps from literature in the Great Hall, including Bunny’s favorite from the Harry Potter series:

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The exhibit continued in the third floor Carnegie Room, where they have different fictional maps from many great books on display. We all enjoyed locating some of our favorites, including Hogwarts, Middle Earth, and even the map from my favorite childhood book, The Phantom Tollbooth.

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This exhibit will be on display through October 15, so if you’ve been looking for an excuse to visit the Central Library, you still have plenty of time!

The Top Five–Children’s Books

I’ve shared my top five books list before…I thought I should also share my five favorite children’s books (there is one books common to both lists!):

  • The Phantom Tollbooth–This is my absolute favorite children’s book, and one I enjoy as an adult, as well. I can’t tell you how many times I have wished I could visit Dictionopolis for myself!
  • Ramona the Pest–I’ve read this book so many times, I can no longer tell what I’m remembering from my own kindergarten experience, and what is just in the book. I think it is the definitive book on being in kindergarten!
  • Henry Reed’s Journey–I read all of the Henry Reed books as a child, and enjoyed each one. This is the one that I really looked forward to reading to my children, however, because I love the Reed/Glass adventure across America.
  • The Monster at the End of this Book–I remember this book from my childhood, and then again as a teen and young adult when I would babysit. Now I read it to my children. I still laugh every time!
  • In Grandma’s Attic–Really, I could just list the entire Grandma’s Attic series, but if I have to pick one, it’s the first in the series, and the first one I read. I still remember where I purchased it, and where I was when I read the first chapter.

I read many, many books as a child, and even more as read-clouds over the years to my children, so it was hard to narrow it down, but these are my absolute favorites!

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

Reformation Wrap-Up

Today marks the end of our month-long study of the Reformation. Here’s a review of all the things we learned and the fun we had!

We read lots of books, some out loud, and others as book basket selections. One of our favorites every year is the Luther biography by Paul Maier.

We made eight lapbooks, one as an overview of the people and events of the Reformation, and the other seven focusing on different Reformers.

We also learned about seven rulers (plus Pope Leo X), and completed a notebooking sheet for each.

Of course, everyone’s favorite part of our studies were the crafts. We designed our own coat-of-arms:

Made stained “glass” windows:

Illuminated letters and practiced being scribes:

Made a banner to hang in our school room:

And, of course, made Luther’s Seal:

We also listened to a lot of music, some by Luther, some by Bach, and some by other Lutheran hymn writers.

We were supposed to go on two field trips this month. The first one was a visit to the Saxon Lutheran Memorial Fall Festival in Frohna, MO, I had to cancel that on account of fog, which was disappointing because it’s one of our favorite events every year. Our other field trip, that actually worked out, was going to the Seminary in St. Louis to hear Ryan sing “Ein Feste Burg” with the American Kantorei as part of the Bach at the Sem series. That same day, we also got to attend a fun Reformation Celebration at our church.

We even enjoyed a German meal at home on Reformation Day! Jägerschnitzel with buttered noodles and sauerkraut for dinner (with Leinie’s Oktoberfest beer for those of drinking age!), and homemade apple strudel for dessert…delicious!

This was a fun way to spend the month of October, and I’m glad I finally came up with an in-depth unit for us to learn all about the Reformation!

2012-2013 Curriculum

I’m trying something new this year…I put our curriculum together myself! I needed to find something for Turkey and Bunny’s fourth grade year, and Ladybug’s kindergarten year. I wanted some things they could do together, and some grade-appropriate things, and I also wanted to continue the survey of American History that we began last year. I don’t think I’ll be doing this assembly every year…I just couldn’t find what I was looking for this time around, so I decided to try it myself. Never say never, though…if it goes well, maybe I’ll look into doing it again in the future!

Religion

Math

Language Arts

For Turkey and Bunny:

For Ladybug:

Latin (Only Turkey and Bunny will have formal Latin studies, but Ladybug is welcome to listen along and absorb vocabulary!)

History/Geography–We’re studying the Civil War to the present day. I tried to make sure every decade from then to now was covered either in a history book or a read-aloud.

Science

Electives

Read-Alouds–I’m not sure we’ll get to all of these, but whatever we don’t read out loud will be turned into book basket selections.

Bonus Read-Alouds (a few special titles I specifically wanted to share with Ladybug in her Kindergarten year, in addition to our regular read-alouds.)

Hopefully I didn’t leave any books (or whole subjects!) out. I won’t even try to list all of the book basket titles we’ll be using, but some of the series will include You Wouldn’t Want to…, If You…, Childhood of Famous AmericansWho Was…?, and multiple American Girl series (those focusing on historical, albeit fictional, characters Addy, Samantha, Rebecca, Kit, Molly, and Julie). This list also doesn’t include the books we’ll be using for our Thanksgiving and Christmas units…and those lists are plenty extensive themselves!