Sunday, June 26, 2011

The books in my basket.....

I thought I'd show you what books I keep in my little basket of tricks....

It is my aim to read from these books sometime during the day.....sometimes we fit them into our school plan as a way to break up activities.....or sometimes we just snuggle together to read them.  And if I'm perfectly honest....sometimes we don't get to them at all.

These are our Bible Time books.  We have a whole lot of different children's Bibles which we usually read from cover to cover-when one is finished we begin the next one.  We used to only read from a children's Bible but this year I've wanted to introduce Bible study-so I chose these as we already had them on our book shelf.  The Prayers and Devotions book co-ordinate together to follow stories in the Bible and they have discussions, stories, songs, rhymes etc. which relate to the story or lesson being taught-very simple stuff, but it's been a nice gentle introduction for us to doing Bible study together.  We read the Bible story first and then on the following days we read from the Prayers book followed by the Devotions book the following day.

When it comes to choosing literature I want to expose our children to, my basket includes: A poetry book or fables/short story book for Jenna and a Nursery Rhyme book for Michael.  I believe in letting them listen to a variety of styles of literature.  Poems expose them to wonderful descriptive words and interesting vocabulary which often challenges their understanding and in turn extends their vocabulary.  Nursery rhymes are wonderful for teaching rhyming words incidentally and building auditory memory skills.  {I'm not 100% sure, but I think the repetitive reading of our nursery rhyme collections is what gave Jenna the confidence to attempt reading on her own.  I used to find her "reading" these books on her bed in the morning before I discovered she could read.}
Fables and short stories usually have good moral lessons to teach.  As they are short, I've used them as an introduction to narrating skills for Jenna.  It's so sweet to hear her repeat what I have read in the exact same expressive tones I've used.... or it can be a great tool for working on her concentration skills-sometimes she can be a little distracted by the world around her!

For second language learning, I believe in the total immersion theory: learn a language by interacting with someone who speaks it fluently in natural day to day activities.  But as we don't have a Xhosa or Afrikaans speaking friend to play with at the moment we're using literature as the next best resource.  Because they've shown an interest in Afrikaans I chose it as our second language to begin with.  I would love for my children to learn to speak Xhosa too but the few times they've been exposed to it they've shown no interest, so I'll wait a while for that one.  We use either a picture dictionary to discuss the vocabulary in the picture (it's all about hearing the language at this stage), a rhyme book or a short picture book with repetitive vocabulary.

As a gentle exposure to letters and the sounds they make we use picture dictionaries, alphabet books or a Letterland book we're borrowing from a friend.  Michael loves the Letterland characters.  I never used them for Jenna, but he's a different learner to her!  

For Maths I like to read books which teach maths concepts through stories. Unfortunately I haven't found many at our library so at the moment I'm using books which I have on our bookshelf-they're not teaching concepts through a story but they've managed to keep the children's attention for now.  We also take out a lot of counting books or early maths concepts books from our library.

At the beginning of the year I decided that I would like Jenna to read aloud to me on a more consistent basis.  Before, I would just hear her read if she incidentally read something to me.  Not really knowing what she was capable of reading I decided to start her off with a series which I knew used sight words rather than phonics (because she is a sight word reader).  I wanted her to feel confident and capable of reading what I gave her so I started with the introduction books and we've moved on from there.  When she was in the habit of reading to us at story time I started introducing books from a Phonics reading scheme too.  Other readers we've used are from the Dorling Kindersley Reader range-they are usually information books covering a topic which interests her.  All of these books we have sourced at our library.  Below are some examples of some of the books we've used. 

Just a side note on these Readers: Read at Home is a sight word reader series-Jenna loved reading this series and Michael loved listening to her read them!  Spilt Milk is from the Reading Corner Series-not my favourite, definitely wouldn't have been Charlotte Mason's choice, but it served it's purpose: giving her a broad reading experience rather than pushing on in levels too quickly.  I feel it's important for her to feel confident to read and to have a reading experience which she enjoys.  I didn't take a photo of the Phonics readers we used-but if you're ever looking for one they have a monkey on the spine ;-) Of course there are many other readers at the library which we could use, these are just a few we've used so far.

When it comes to factual learning (history, geography and science) I've chosen to follow our children's interests at the moment.  So as Jenna expressed a desire for becoming an astronaut one day ;-) we've been reading all sorts about Space.  Although I agree with Charlotte Mason's use of Living Books to explore a topic, I have found that sourcing Living Books which read as a story is not very easy in this age group.  So we have begged and borrowed books (but not stolen) from friends who have books on space.  I find home schoolers generally have a love of books and choose great books to expose their children to new information. I also have a few books on our book shelf which I'm learning to look through before heading off to the library!

Books from friends and our book shelf-Jenna loved the Magic School Bus series (also probably not a classic Charlotte Mason choice, but I figure if it grabs their interest, use it!)  

These two books are from our library. I found them after borrowing The Planets in Our Solar System from a friend using Love to Learn.  They are probably the closest to a living book one can find on this topic in our library.  They also have experiment ideas in them which help make the information become more understandable for kinesthetic and visual learners.

And lastly we end the day at bed time with read-a-louds.  (These are also books we beg, borrow, but don't steal or have bought second hand)  This year I started reading chapter books at bed time for Jenna.  Just a chapter or two every night.  Pictured above are a few of the books we've read.  Others are: My Father's Dragon, The Box Car Children and Fantastic Mr. Fox.  Jenna has loved these.  It has been interesting to see how Michael reacts to the stories too as it takes a lot for a wiggly little four year old to lie still to listen to and understand some of the stories we've read.  He amazes me sometimes with the details he remembers!
Of course this doesn't mean we have forgotten about picture books...... I think those will be in our library basket and our on book shelves for a long time still.  But that is something they share with Daddy after supper, as he needs some cuddle time too!