Monday, March 21, 2011

Aesop's Fables


You may (or may not) remember having heard in the past stories such as "The Turtle and the Rabbit," a fable about a rabbit who was confident he would win a race with the turtle and lost because he lazed about partway through while the turtle pressed forward.  Well, now Brill Kids provides a set of books that allow you to bring this story down to the level of a new reader.


Aesop's Fables, volume 1 from Brill kids includes a set of five short storybooks containing rewritings of The Lion and the Mouse, The Turtle and the Rabbit, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, The Fox and the Grapes, and The Fox and the Crow.  These are written in rhyming lines, with one line per page.  So The Boy Who Cried Wolf begins with

A young shepherd decides to play a bad trick

and then on the next page has

"Help!  A wolf is here!  Come quick, come quick!"

I really like these retellings, because they help Thing 1 to get into a more rhythmic type of reading.  Another thing I really like about them, which will come in handy as Thing 2 (and then Voom) learns to read is a flap that is the in back of the book that is used to cover the pictures on the pages on the right side, leaving JUST the words in view.  It's a shame to cover up the beautiful illustrations, buuuuuuuuut when your child is learning to read, pictures are not always the best tool for helping.



My boys really like these books (in fact, three of them have disappeared to the bookshelf upstairs even after I said they were supposed to stay down here).  Thing 1 enjoys reading them, and has read them not only to his brother but also to my parents and sister on a video call (first time he's ever done that), and Thing 2 loves to look at the pictures.  When Thing 1 is reading them, the covering flap is put all the way in the back of the book since he doesn't need it, so it's not something that is a nuisance for the stronger readers who just happen to enjoy the books.

One thing to keep in mind is that these are NOT the simple readers that are used toward the beginning of phonics curricula.  The age group is listed as 3 months and up, but I would not expect a child who has had no reading experience to be able to read these.  I think these would work great for a child who is learning to read, and would like something that is not only a challenge, but also ore interesting than some of the "learning to read" books I have seen.

At the moment, you can purchase a set of these books for $37.50 (if you look, there's $50 crossed off over to the side).  As much as I like these and the boys enjoy them, due to the cost, we likely will not be getting the second set :(  BUT, if this is something that looks like it would be a great fit for your home, and it is within your budget, I would definitely recommend getting them.

Not sure based on just my opinion?  Go take a look at what my fellow Crew mates think of these books!

Disclaimer: These books were provided free to me by Brill Kids for the purpose of this honest review.  I received no compensation for my review.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


So my order from Rainbow Resource has arrived, and now I can share pretty much all of what we have planned for first grade for Thing 1, as well as a couple items I got for Thing 2 (and Voom... you'll see what I mean when I get to that picture Winking smile  )

You will notice that one subject is missing from these pictures: Math.  I am waiting for Math-U-See's cart system to be updated so that I can order the next level, even though we are not finished with Alpha yet.

Also not pictured are the ream of first grade writing paper and the globe.


First up we have art.  We are doing ARTistic Pursuits, K-3 book 1 this year.  This is the book itself and all of the supplies needed.  This is one of Thing 1’s favorite subjects in general so I wanted to make sure I didn’t mess it up Winking smile


Here we have history.  We are doing Story of the World 1, the Ancients this year.  Those are the books in the lower right of the picture.  The rest is all reference guides.


Here is our science stuff.  This year we’re studying life science using Great Science Adventures.  GSA has different activities and such in each of the four books across the bottom, and the books on the top are various reference materials.


Language Arts.  This subject has haunted me for months trying to figure out what to do.  here we have Spelling Workout (levels A through C, just in case he flies through A and/or B), First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, level 1, Writing with Ease (both The Complete Writer and level 1’s workbook) and 4 different Literature Pockets books.  Thing 1’s reading ability is above these, but I think that these will at least be fun for him to do.  He’ll do additional reading on his own.


Mind Benders!  I got four different levels just because I wanted to.  We’re going to start with the first one and do these every once in a while as a sort of change of pace, fun activity.


Typing Instructor for Kids.  Thing 1 enjoys being on the computer and typing, sooooooo we’re going to work on typing correctly before he develops all of the horrible habits his mother has picked up.  Winking smile


These are predominantly for Thing 2.  Thing 1 is not a fan of music, although he IS a fan of noise so he will likely play with them as well, but this way hopefully Thing 2 won’t be doing things like drawing on the walls or climbing bookshelves.  I’m hoping for noisy distraction.  whether or not it WORKS, we’ll find out.  (Thing 1 seems to work better with something going on in the background)


This is Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready.  It’s a book with weekly activities to do with your child from birth until age 5.  This is obviously the one that will work for Voom as well.  I plan on going over some of the skills in here with Thing 1 as well since I am a slacker and there are some things he doesn’t know (oops) that he probably should.


All of this LOOKS like a lot of work, but with the number of things that are reference for science and history, it’s really not as much as it seems.  And because I have them NOW, that’s less stuff to buy in the future, which makes Link very happy Smile

Monday, March 7, 2011

Looking Back, Kindergarten

I figured since I'm up at 5:30 in the morning for no real reason, and within the next couple days the rest of Thing 1's stuff for first grade will arrive, that I would take a little bit to reflect back on Thing 1's kindergarten year.

Really, there's not too terribly much to reflect on academically, since we unschooled this year for the most part.  Since Thing 1 could already read, and finished Math-U-See Primer very quickly, I didn't feel the need to really PUSH, if you know what I mean.  Kindergarten should be FUN, afterall.

In Reading, Thing 1 has continued to grow, just through reading anything he can get his hands on.  Including the dictionary.  His fluency is really good, I'm not entirely sure about his comprehension (although he can recite a lot of things back to me a couple days later, so his retention at least is excellent) and he LOVES it.  Trying to figure something out for first grade has been a bit of a nightmare on my part, to be honest, because most of what I can find for first graders involves phonics instruction still, and Thing 1 doesn't need that.  Since I've had some of the books for first grade for other subjects in the house since the beginning of January (I'll take a picture of all of it together once the rest arrives), I've had to keep them out of reach so he doesn't get ahead of me again ;)

In Math, our other "main" subject this year, he has been slowly making his way through Math-U-See Alpha.  Not because he doesn't understand it, but because we've been a bit lazy about it.  We took a long break for the holidays, and he went back and filled in the missing pages (we skip pages if he gets the concept) and is caught back up to where we had been before.  Now it's just a matter of continuing along.  This is the only subject I have not purchased the next part for because I have not been getting along with Math-U-See's website.  They are going through some changes in their cart system or something and so I'm just going to (try to) be patient and wait for it all to be squared away.  We're not in danger of needing it before it's ready at this point, so I can wait.  For now.

In other subjects, we haven't really focused on much of anything, besides some memorization of US state locations.  He knows a good number of them, and really, it was something I decided we would do just so we'd have something to do when he wanted to "learn something".  Other than that, his reading of random things has taught him a LOT of random facts that he just spits out at even more random times.

And don't think that everything is all sunshine and roses around here.  He may be doing very well academically, but I will be the first to admit that we deal with some major behavioral and social issues.  Thing 1 is a LOT like me, so focusing on a particular task (I've gotten up and wandered a few times during this post, for example, as well as opened other tabs in my browser to just read random stuff) is difficult, as well as handling most social situations.  While Link isn't exactly a social creature himself, many times I have noticed that Thing 1 will take his lead on when it is and is not appropriate to talk to people.  This means that when we're trying to get a question answered at someplace like The Home Depot the poor sales associate has to deal with a 6 year old interrupting every minute or so (with additional details that he remembers from Link and I discussing it), but at least he's trying to help ;)  I'm not going to go into details about behavior, just know that it's not all rainbows and puppies around here ;)

And there you have it, my basic assessment of how Thing 1 has done for his kindergarten year.  Hopefully once we get started on first grade (after Voom is here) I'll actually be able to do weekly updates since we're going to be buckling down a bit more and a full year assessment just won't work as well.