Friday, April 29, 2011

Cooking in the Kitchen

It almost seems to be a creed among home schoolers that cooking in the kitchen, at a young age, is essential. That it's a great way to learn math. It's a basic!

Well, it certainly is a useful life skill, but for whatever reason, we've been a bit negligent in this area. And now, at the age of 8, my son has little interest in this endeavour. And while we do have time on our side-- I mean, he is only 8-- I still have doubts creeping in. lol. Perhaps it's a stage, but that doesn't mean I don't take certain measures! I can not stand the idea of my son being 18 and not able to cook an egg...or something vegetarian... or vegan...whatever  ;-)
Besides, it would be lovely to have help in the kitchen and sharing the cooking duties when he's a bit older. It's all about being equal members of the household.

But we're Natural Learners and I don't force him to learn specific things. So what to do?

First, I continuously borrow children's cookbooks out from the library and leave them on his library bookshelf. I suggest he check them for something he'd like to make. Although he'd often flip through things, nothing came of it.

Second, I have to restructure my thinking. We're fairly healthy eaters over here and seldom eat junk food. Ah, this means we've done very little baking. Duh! There's my problem. How hard is it to entice a young chef into the kitchen to bake? Well.... it can be, but I won't go there.

The latest round of cookbooks included new finds in the areas of my son's current interests: Star Wars and Garfield. The Star Wars Cook Book: Wookiee Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes by Robin Davis. The Star Wars Cook Book II: Darth Malt and Other Galactic Recipes by Frankeny. I'm in the Mood for Food: In the Kitchen with Garfield

The Garfield one was thoroughly flipped through and all comics read, but no interesting recipes caught the attention of my boy.

The two Star Wars Cook Books were a hit though as several desserts and drinks have been highlighted and put on the agenda. Now, I must say *I* am not impressed with the recipes, but it's a cute set of books that my son enjoys.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Book: Palazzo Inverso

The above video takes you through the first half of this MC Escher-esque book, it's a teaser. But not enough of a teaser if you ask me; the book itself is much more exciting to look at and read. I love the way the text wraps the pages and sends you back to the beginning.

Palazzo Inverso is by DB Johnson.
Amazon's summary: "Mauk's master is drawing up plans for a grand palazzo, and Mauk is NOT allowed to help. Mauk only sharpens the master's pencils--he doesn't actually use them.
...Or does he? One morning, Mauk's master is horrified to discover that his plans have run amok, and the construction of the grand palazzo has, too! Is Mauk really to blame? Or is that just the master's point of view?

This is a cute book to read on it's own, but would make a great addition to a study about MC Escher or drawing.

Although I recommend getting the book itself, you can read it online here. Problem is, you just don't get the whole tactile experience of reading the text, getting to the end, and flipping the book upside down and reading the wrapped text back to the beginning. It's much more fun to explore the actual book!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Barefoot Book of Classic Poems and Poem Music

The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems, compiled and illustrated by Jackie Morris, is a very lovely collection. The 74 poems are beautifully illustrated adding to the experience.

After reading "The Highwayman" out loud to my son (we've read this poem before), he promptly demanded we listen to Loreena McKennitt's version-- on her The Book of Secrets Cd. And I do mean demand... he was impatient and wouldn't let me read another poem just yet. [she also does "The Lady of Shallot" on her CD, The Visit.]

This reminded me just how important it is to listen to poetry, not just read it. And there are several poetry CDs out there, especially for children. Some are done to music and some are just read poems. I hope to blog a few in the near future as we have them on hold at the library.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Professor Noggin Card Games!

Here are a few of our decks

The Professor Noggin card games are wonderful. With so many topics covered and more added all the time, they are a fun and stimulating way to learn about history, science, geography, nature, and even hockey. Age level? They say 7 and up, but my son started off with them around the age of 4 and 5-- as you'll see there are more than one way to use them ;-)

How do they work? Basically they are a Q&A card game. One side of the cards has a picture and the other side has 2 sets of questions, one easy set of three questions and one set of hard questions. The included dice is rolled to determine which question (1, 2, or 3) will be asked and the card is won by a correct answer; an incorrect answer sends the card to the bottom of the card pile. The goal is to collect as many cards as possible. Before the game commences, players decide who answers the easy questions (maybe the kids) and who answers the hard questions (maybe the adults). 

My son was never into playing them that way though. He preferred to read them on his own and create time lines or use them in story creation. Sometimes he would quiz me or ask me to quiz him, but we've never actually sat down and played them competitively or ever used the dice. So, these cards can be fun for all kinds of imaginative play!

The Professor Noggin series began with "Life in the Ocean" which was quickly followed by "Insects and Spiders" and "Wildlife of North America." Now there are 37 titles with "Hockey" and "Baseball" being the most recent. For a list of their titles click here. If there is a topic you'd love that they don't have, you can always suggest a title (on their website)!

This is a made in Canada product and definitely has a strong North American focus, but has several international titles. And while it does have a few Canadian focused titles ("Geography of Canada" and "History of Canada") it seems like there are even more American titles (from civil war to presidents, plus geography and history). And, if it matters to you, these card games have won several awards.

Click here to check out "Wonders of the World" card game: it's complete list of topics, their game instructions, and a sample card with questions and answers.

This post has been linked up with...
Favorite Resource This Week

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Book: The Picture History of Great Explorers

The Picture History of Great Explorers by Gillian Clements is a very fun and colourful way to explore history's famous explorers and get a nice over view with time lines. This was a library find that my son was very enthusiastic about for a while. Now he gives it 3.5 out of 5 (=Good).


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Beethoven's Wig

Music CDs: Beethoven's Wig

Sometimes I can be quite the purist, however, I've come to find value in being more open minded. Lol, go figure!

For example, in the past I would completely ignore the modern day versions of classic stories as if they were tainted and toxic. Now? While I'm still not fond of them, I can see where certain archaic language can be reinvented for a young inquisitive mind who doesn't want to wait to read a difficult story. Because really, is it the story or the language or both that matters? To whom? Compromising can be good.

I'm bringing this up because the Anita Renfroe video reminded me of some favourite Cds we haven't listened to in ages.

The purist in me thinks classical music should be raw and real and unadorned; it should be presented as is and without gimmick. My son has always enjoyed classical music and, so, it was with much trepidation I found and presented Beethoven's Wig to him.

Beethoven's Wig: Sing Along Symphonies are a fun and award winning series of CDs in which silly and catchy lyrics have suddenly sprung up in famous classical music pieces. This is both good and bad! They are fun and silly, but very catchy and I've found it hard to listen to the unadorned pieces without hearing those lyrics in my mind (but this does fade eventually). [follow the link to sample the music]

{Is there a time limit when adding a YouTube Video to blog posts? There was supposed to be the video here, but it has vanished. I'm done. I added it as a separate post instead. I wish I understood the process of adding videos better}

There are four CDs now (and an illustrated book), but we've only heard the first two. Both of them had a series of well known classical pieces beset with lyrics. Once done, the second half of the CD had the same pieces, but this time without the lyrics, just the lovely instrumentals.

[An edit: I forgot to mention that the third CD is designed to introduce individual instruments!]

Whether the intent is to introduce someone to classical music or to kick it up a notch and show how nothing is sacred, lol, Beethoven's Wig CDs are definitely fun. I love mixed media art, so why not with music, eh?!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Anita Renfroe | William Tell Momisms

Just for fun ;-)


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Avatar, The Last Air Bender

It took us a while, but we've completed this series from the DVD versions. Avatar The Last Air Bender is a TV series compiled into three "books:" Water, Earth, and Fire with each 'book' having a season's worth of episodes.

I must say I enjoyed this as much or more than my son, lol. I found the story compelling and some of the character development well done. I'm not saying this is a masterpiece by any means. I found the third 'book' to be the weakest of the series and throughout the series, much of it was predictable. Still, it was very fun to watch. I do love martial art movies and this one had a few different ones to show off. I also enjoyed the humour woven into the shows (beyond the punny or slap stick parts).

This is an *American* series and not Japanese animation and implements different Asian concepts.

An overly simplified summary from IMDB, "In a war-torn world of elemental magic, a young boy reawakens to undertake a dangerous mystic quest to fulfill his destiny as the Avatar." Follow the IMDB link for more info and some video clips.

Avatar wiki, a place to learn even more about the series and it's characters.


Monday, April 18, 2011

BBC Nature Documentary: The Life of Birds

If you're patient enough and persevere to the end of the above clip (just under 3 minutes), you hear this amazing lyre bird imitating all kinds of birds... AND the sounds of cameras, car alarms, and chainsaws!

 David Attenborough's The Life of Birds is a wonderful series that we love to re-watch every now and again. With 9.3 stars out of 10 on Internet Movie Database, apparently we aren't the only ones enjoying this series.

Here's a link to the pbs website with more info, examples, and classroom resources.

This post was linked up with...
Science Sunday

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Product Review: Oh, The Wondrous Places You'll Go--Travel Cards

Spontaneous buying. Ya, not often a brilliant idea. However, once in a while those whims turn out to be fantastic.

And so our household came to have these Dr. Seuss 51 and a half travel cards to "tickle your travel bug." Each card "features stunning photography, unbelievable facts, surprising history, and brain-twisting trivia about a different amazing destination. From famous landmarks to hidden gems, a world of adventure awaits!" The back of the cards show the place location on a globe and then from a more local perspective.

My son loves these cards and pulls them out often. He enjoys reading the cards, answering the questions, and imaging going to these places. I think this may be the beginning of his very own... 51 and 1/2 places to go before he's... not interested in travelling  ;-)

I think these cards are great and spark interest in learning about new places. Did you know that "before Mesa Verde was made a national park in 1906, campers burned all the cliff dwellings' roof timbers for firewood?"  Sad but true.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Book: Roberto The Insect Architect

I seem to be posting tons of books lately. We do love books! But I'd be rather remiss if I failed to post about this humble picture book. Why? Because my husband is an architect :)
Again, this picture book will appeal to many age levels and would even be a fun gift for the professional or not-so-professional architect in your life!

Roberto: The Insect Architect is a fun and creative book by Nina Laden who illustrated the book with collage pictures. From the book flaps:

"Ever since he was a wee mite (termite that is), Roberto wanted to be an architect. He longed to follow in the footsteps of such architectural greats as Hank Floyd Mite and Fleas van der Rohe.
 Discouraged by comments from family and friends that he is biting off more than he can chew, he decides to follow his dream to the big, buzzing city, where he meets some not-so-creepy crawlers who spark in him the courage to build a community for them all."

It's a clever, witty read full of inspiration. It's very punny too. The references to real people, given new name twists (Robin Leech/ Barbara Waterbugs), makes it a fun book for anyone! Typically her books are ages 4-12, and up  ;-)

But before I move on, I want to emphasize that Nina Laden is an author/illustrator you may wish to explore further. This is not the only book of hers that's inventive and full of wit! How about trying Romeow and Drooliet or When Pigasso Met Mootise? The latter book may be featured when I finally get around to summing up our mini Picasso "study."

This post has been linked up with.... Book Sharing Monday


Friday, April 15, 2011

Books: A Seed Is Sleepy, plus... An Egg is Quiet!

I've really been enjoying picture books lately, especially beautifully illustrated ones. I think I read them to my son just so that I can read them, lol. I'm so selfish!

The fact is, my son won't read them on his own and I don't blame him; at eight years old, they are not usually captivating enough for personal reading when he'd rather read Lego or Star Wars encyclopedic volumes or chapter books. And while this is where I would normally sigh, I've found that he's happy to enjoy these beautiful books as long as we sit and read them together! Yay for me ;-)  At least for the time being. Then I'll just have to read them for me  ;-)

At this time of year we have a bit of a book tradition: we take several spring, egg, and seed related books off our shelves or out from the library. Not an earth shattering idea, I know. It blows in with the spring air and everyone has the same idea!

However, there are a few books that we specifically read every year. Two of them are the topics of this, um getting long winded, post.

First, A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston and beautifully illustrated by Sylvia Long. Subtly packed with information the elegant pictures delight readers of all ages. The narrative begins "A seed is sleepy" and progresses with imaginative adjectives to "a seed is awake." It's just a very creative introduction or re-introduction to seeds and plants with a wonderful array of examples. I love the endpapers! At the beginning of the book, they are a double page layout of various seeds; at the end of the book, they are a double page layout of the plants they grow into. This book is very lovely and everyone should read it at least once!

The second book is what led us to the first book. An Egg Is Quiet by Dianna Hutts Aston and, of course, also beautifully illustrated by Sylvia Long. This gorgeous book prompted me to find more by this author/illustrator duo. So far it's just these two books, but Dianna Aston's website promises a third book (hopefully illstrated by Sylvia Long): A Butterfly is Patient (spring 2012).

Ok, back to An Egg Is Quiet!

Progressing from a quiet to noisy egg, this book travels the life cycle of an egg. Did you know eggs were colourful, shapely, clever, differently sized, artistic, and textured? Well, probably you did. But that's not the point! This elegant book is such an amazing introduction to eggs of all varieties with a splash of information to round out the experience. This includes a visual time line of three egg's developments: a chicken's, a salmon's, and a grasshopper's. And there are wonderful end papers here too! The first set is a collection of wonderful eggs (to scale I think) and the last set is a collection of the corresponding birds! It's fun to flip back and forth matching up the two. 

We are lucky here in Edmonton. Our Royal Alberta Museum has a wonderful display of stuffed birds found in Alberta. In fact we made a special foray into this section to check out those birds AND to check out the wonderful egg collection! I love the way the museum has designed the layout so that we can check out the local-Alberta found eggs as well as see samples of eggs from all around the world. They even have a section where they compare sizes beginning with a hummingbird egg and work up to an ostrich egg.

But if you are not so lucky as to either live here or have something similar, I have a link to the RAM's online egg exhibit for you!

Eggs: A Virtual Exhibition
From their welcome page... "Welcome to Eggs - A Virtual Exhibition, the closest you may ever get to seeing wild bird eggs without disturbing birds at the nest. This virtual exhibit showcases eggs of the world with a special emphasis on the eggs of Alberta. The Royal Alberta Museum hosts one of the most extensive egg collections in North America. We have an on-line field guide with over 300 egg images as well as information on egg biology and a touch of egg trivia. So put on your virtual helmet and we'll visit some nests!"

A lot of information is provided and some of it in a rather bland presentation. I'd start with the "Bird Families Menu" and click on the bird of interest. But have fun and look around  ;-)

This post has been linked up with...

Science Sunday

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