Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NaNoWriMo Winner 2010, sort of

Yeah!  I did it!  I reached the 50,000 word count goal for NaNoWriMo!  I'm so excited.

To be perfectly honest, I questioned myself as to whether I could claim to be a NaNoWriMo winner or not.  The goal for NaNoWriMo is to write a novel that is at least 50,000 words in 30 days.  What I wrote is actually more of a journal than a novel, but I talked myself into counting it as a win because I know of many journals that have eventually been turned into books - Helen Keller's diary, Anne Frank's diary, etc.  I have no intentions of turning my NaNo journaling in to a book but, hey, you never know.  :)

Opps, I just read the FAQs on the NaNoWriMo site and after reading the What genres are okay? question I've concluded that maybe I'm not really an official winner by NaNo standards after all.  The writing is supposed to be a work of fiction.  However, the good people of NaNo have created a forum for what they call NaNo rebels such as myself.

Seriously, my goal in participating in NaNo this year was to develop the habit of regular writing, and I intend to continue with that habit.  I do think that some of the material that I have included in my journal could eventually be taken out and expanded on and could be inspiration for other writing. I consider myself a winner because I reached the 50,00o word count goal and I know that next time around I will be ready to actually tackle writing something that will make me an honest to goodness official NaNoWriMo winner.  

A fellow NaNoer often posted wordles of her writing thoughout the month and when I reached the word count goal last night I decided to celebrate by creating a wordle.  Here it is:
Wordle: NaNoWriMo2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bible in 90 Days Challenge Starting January 3rd

The time is fast approaching:
Could there be any better goal for the New Year than to spend more time in God's Word?  As a friend pointed out to me today, the winter is a great time to take up a challenge.  Having completed the challenge this summer, I have volunteered to be a mentor this time around and encourage others through the challenge.  I seriously didn't think it was possible when I started the challenge but I did it, and I know you can too.  I'd love to be able to encourage you through it.  Please consider joining us.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Schoolhouse Expo Session with Dr. Jay Wile

Over at the Schoolhouse Expo blog Lori has challenged us to Listen Along with Lori Lynn and listen to a Schoolhouse Expo October 2010 recording a week and post a review about it on our own blogs. I'm already behind the schedule she proposed and I'll probably be behind the whole way through but I'm going to try to get do what I can.  Here's my thoughts on Dr. Jay Wile's session titled "Homeschool Graduates: What Are They Doing Now?".

I actually forgot about this session when it was presented and didn't join until it was about half over.  Boy, was I glad that recordings of the sessions after the fact were included in the price of a ticket. I took in what I could then knowing that I would be able to take it all in again later.

What stood out to me in the part of the session that I did get to take in the first time was how Dr. Wile emphasized trusting God's guidance and how the graduates were following God's leading and were willing to let their plans go if need be.

About a week ago I listened to the whole session in it's entirety and took note of some other things.

Dr. Wile started the session by telling a bit about himself and how he became interested in homeschooling.  I think it's a pretty cool story.  Dr. Wile was a professor and he had some homeschool graduates taking some of his courses and he discovered that the homeschool graduates were some of his best students.  It impressed him so much that he decided that when he had children he was going to homeschool them.

Near the end of his session Dr. Wile revealed that he did just what he had decided, he homeschooled his own child, but he was very transparent about the fact that it wasn't always a bed of roses. His daughter didn't want to be homeschooled so he stressed the advantages to her - like sleeping in, creating own schedule, etc. They went through some rough times, as all homeschooling families do, but they do not regret their decision and he considers his daughter to be one of the successful homeschool gradutes.

Most homeschool families know Dr. Wile as the guy that wrote the Apolgia Science curriculum.  Dr. Wile made it clear, however, that he no longer works with Apologia.  I didn't realize that and I went searching for the story behind it and discovered this article titled Apologia Changes Hands.

On Dr. Wile's website you can actually find the handout for the What are They Doing Now? session he did in the Expo, as well as handouts for other talks he's done at other times in other places.

I found it interesting that Dr. Wile started his session with a lot of statistics.  You can find all these statistics in the session handout I personally found some of these statistics very interesting.

Dr. Will then went on to share the stories of nine homeschool graduates he followed up on to see what they were doing now.  It was very interesting and encouraging to hear their different stories.  Once again these stories are included in the handout for the session.

After the session was over people had a chance to ask Dr. Wile some questions and one statement that he made in response to a question stood out to me.  He advised that it's a good idea to get out of the packaged curriculum.  He said it's nice and easy to use but it's better to tailor the curriculum to your own child.  I happen to agree with him.

If you missed Dr. Wile's talk and would like to hear it, it is available for purchase $4.95 in the Old Schoolhouse store.  Just scroll down until you find Dr. Wile's session.  Also, if you entirely missed the conference but wish that you hadn't, you can purchase the recordings for the entire Expo, over 20 hours, for 19.99 from the Old Schoolhouse Store.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Last Week's Library Loot and Reviews

Let Me Hold You Longer by Karen Kingsbury, illustrated by Mary Collier
I bawled my way through this one!  Seriously, I could hardly read I was crying that much.  It tells the story of a Mom that starts of thinking about all the firsts with her little one but ends up thinking about all the lasts that will quickly pass without her realizing it.

The King of the Birds written and illustrated by Helen Ward
I love this book!  It is a great resource for science and a study of birds.  The illustrations are wonderful!  They picture hundreds of different kinds of birds and there are numbered charts at the back of the book to help you identify each one.  The great thing is that it's not just an information book, it's also a story.  The birds have a competition to see who is the King of the Birds.  We will definitely go back to this one again - probably many times over the years.

The Wind  Blew by Pat Hutchins
We've read a few Pat Hutchins books before.  We really like the Titch books.  This is not a Titch book but it's still pretty good.  It's a story about the havoc that the wind caused one day before blowing out to sea.

The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster, pictures by Chris Raschka
A little girl shares about her special relationship with her grandparents and how much she likes the window of their house where they get to say hello and goodbye.  We thought it was kind of cute.  One quote I like from it - "You can be happy and sad at the same time, you know.  It just happens that way sometimes."

Are You Ready for Bed? by Jane Johnson, illustrated by Gaby Hansen
A mother bunny is thrilled to finally have all her babies in bed so that she can have some time to herself, but the time doesn't last long.  Cute story.  I could relate to how Mommy bunny felt.  :)

Green Cat by Dayal Kaur Khalsa
A cute story about a brother and sister that complaining about how small their room is until a green cat helps them fill it with too much stuff and when all the stuff is taken out again they realize how big the room really is.  It reminded me another story we read recently about a little old lady that thought her house was too small; I can't remember the title of it.  The rhyming and rhythm of the story make it a fun read.

Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
A girl is all excited about being invited to a friends birthday party, until her mother insists that she take her little sister with her.  A few years later her sister is in the same predicament.  We thought the book was okay.

Anansi and the Magic Stick by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Janet Stevens
A story about a lazy spider that steals a magic stick from a Hyena but ends up causing trouble by forgetting the magic words.  Anna enjoyed the story and has been repeating the "magic words" once in a while.  I thought it was rather silly but okay.  There is a bit of word repetition on some pages that provide opportunity to draw attention to the words and encourage some shared reading.

Purplicious by Vitoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann, illustrated by Victoria Kann
We had this book out before.  It tells the story of a little girl that loves pink but is told by her friends that pink is a colour for babies.  Anna likes the story.

Stormy's Hat : Just Right for a Railroad Man by Eric A. Kimmel, pictures by Andrea U'Ren
A great resource for social studies.  It tells the story of how in 1903 a train engineer and his wife came up with the design for a hat for railroad workers.  It is not, however, a boring information book.  It is actually a very fun story with great pictures.

Nora's Ark by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock, illustrataed by Emilay Arnold McCully
This is a good resource for social studies as it is based on a real historic event - the Vermont Flood of 1927.  It's not, however, a boring information book.  It tells the story of a man that builds a house for his wife but the house ends up serving as a kind of ark during the flood.  We enjoyed it.

A Coyote Columbus Story by Thomas King, pictures by William Kent Monkman
I didn't like this book at all.  Seriously, not at all.  While I understand the point the author was making I think that the concept is more for adults or older teens than for children.  It actually might be a good addition to a social studies class in the highschool.  It could be used to start a discussion on how point of view influences the stories of history.

Anthony and  the Girls by Ole Konnecke
A cute book with just a few words on most pages, so a great book for someone that is just learning to read.  It tells the story of a little boy that tries, without luck, to impress some girls.

What Do You Want? by Lars Klinting
We had this one out before, early this year I think.  It's a cute little book that provides kids a chance to guess what comes next on each page.  Anna can actually read the book herself.  There are just a few words on each page and enough repetition and pictures clues to make it easy.  One of our favorites.

Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor by Emily Arnold McCully
A great resource for social studies or a unit on inventors or important women in history.  This book tells the story of Margaret E. Knight and how right from childhood she was inventing things.  She was the inventor of many things, including a machine that made paper groceries bags with flat bottoms.  It was a little above Anna at the moment but I could see coming back to it again in a study such as those mentioned above.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Schoolhouse Expos

Back in October I took part in the October 2010 Schoolhouse Expo.  The Schoolhouse Expo is basically an online homeschool conference.

Apparently this was the second Schoolhouse Expo, the first one was held in May 2010 - .  A third is planned for May 16-20, 2011.   I missed the first one, but, if at all possible, I don't plan on missing anymore.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Expo I took part in.  It was very encouraging to hear speakers from the homeschool community share their expertise. It was nice to be able to do that in the comfort of my home without worrying about what I was wearing or how my hair looked.  The organizers did a wonderful job of making sure that everything ran as it should have.  I was very impressed with how patient they were at explaining the basics to those that had never experienced an online conference before.

One of the great things about the Expo is that included in the prize of a ticket is recordings of the sessions after the fact.  This means that if you're too busy to take in a session at the time it is happening you don't miss it entirely.  You can listen to it at your leisure when you're ready.

Also, if you entirely missed the conference but wish that you hadn't, you can purchase the Expo recordings from The Old Schoolhouse store. MP3 files are available 19.99 for the entire expo, over 20 hours, or individual sessions for $4.95.

Over at the Schoolhouse Expo blog Lori has challenged us to Listen Along with Lori Lynn.  We are to listen to a recording a week and post a review about it on our own blogs.  I have been meaning to review the sessions and post more about them so I was thrilled to hear about the challenge.  I'm a little behind already, but hopefully I will catch up.  So be watching over the next few weeks for my thoughts on the sessions of the October Expo.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Last Week's Library Loot

So much for my plan to post the list and then a review post a few days later.  I'm posting it all in one this time.

Fancy Nancy Ooh La La! It's Beauty Day by Jane O'Conner, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser
Kind of a cute book but not really one for us because we're not much into the whole spa beauty stuff.  A little girl sets up  a spa day for her mom to help her get ready for an evening out.  Includes recipes and tips for beauty treatments.

Lyle Walks the Dogs: A Counting Book by Bernard Waber, illustrated by Paulis Waber
I believe this is the first Lyle the Crocodile book for us.  The story follows Lyle the Crocodile through his first 10 days of his new job of walking dogs.  It is a good book to use for Math.  It integrates the numerals, number words, and ordinal words into the story. Anna enjoyed it.

Kipper by Mick Inkpen
We've read a couple of Kipper books before but not this one.  Kipper is tired of his basket and old blanket and goes exploring but soon finds out that nothing is better than his basket and old blanket.

This is a cute book with lift laps and surprises but unfortunately the library copy is in rough shape.  I think it's sad to have books in such rough shape in the library.  I'd love to read a copy in good shape.

Kipper's Monster by Mick Inkpen
Anna love this story. When Tiger shows Kipper his new flashlight and Kipper starts reading a book with it he and Tiger get the idea to sleep outside, but they don't stay out long.  Anna loved this story.

Wibbly Pig takes his time doing his bedtime routines before finally climbing into bed.  Cute story.

A cute Christmas themed story.  Harriet the hamster gets lost in the Christmas tree and has a great adventure and a pleasant surprise at the end.  Anna like it.

Uh-oh! by Rachel Isadora
A cute book were the pictures tell the story of a toddler and all the "Uh-oh" times of his days.  There are just one or two words per page.  Anna enjoyed it and recognized the phrase "uh-oh" when we came across it in another book later in the week.  I like to get a book or two with just a word or two per page because I think it helps Anna to recognize the words and gives her some confidence because she can "read" the book herself pretty easily.

If Dogs Ruled the World (Hello Reader Level 3) by Faith McNulty, illustrated by Julie Durrel
Dogs take the place of people and people take the place of dogs.  Kind of a cute story.  It got a bit old after a while to me but I think Anna enjoyed it.

Buzz Boy and Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold
Anna loves the Fly Guy books so had to get this one when she saw it at the library.  Fly Guy writes a comic strip where he and his pet fly are super heroes. Anna loved it.

I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson, pictures by Judith Byron Schachner
This is a cute parody of I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.  The old lady in the story eats more than her fill at the thanksgiving supper.  Anna enjoyed the book

That New Animal by Emily Jenkins, pictures by Pierre Pratt
Told from the point of view of two dogs that are not impressed when their humans have a baby.  Kind of cute.  A good reminder to not forgot the pets when a baby comes into the house.

Franklin Forgives by Sharon Jennings, illustrated by Celeste Gagnon
Anna loves Franklin and actually saw a TV episode like this story.  Franklin has a hard time forgiving his little sister for losing something very important to him.

The rest of these books are all Level 2 Kids Can Read Books:

Franklin and the Bubble Gum by Sharon Jennings
Franklin has some luck which turns out to be bad luck for someone else, but Franklin does his part to fix things and is rewarded for it.  A great story for discussing honesty and integrity.

Franklin's Library Book by Sharon Jennings
Franklin loses a library book and is very worried about it.

Franklin's Soapbox Derby by Sharon Jennings
Franklin and Bear try to make a prize winning Soapbox for the Derby.

Franklin the Detective by Sharon Jennings
Franklin looks for clues to help solve mysteries.  

Franklin and the Cookies by Sharon Jennings
Franklin and Bear have fun making and eating cookies.  Includes a recipe for chocolate chip cookies that we just had to try.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

My Thoughts on Last Week's Library Loot

Here are my thoughts on the books we had out last week:

My Visit with Periwinkle by Alison Inches, illustrated by David B. Levy (Ready-to-Read: Level 1)
- I'm not a big fan of Blue's Clues and I'm also not a fan of many Ready-to-Read books.  I should probably post a post about that sometime.  Anna likes Blue's Clues right now and she enjoyed the story.  Blue is expecting Periwinkle to visit and he makes a list of things he needs to do to prepare for the visit.  This would be a good book to use to introduce the idea of making lists to help you remember things you have to do.

Big Sarah's Little Boots by Paulette Bourgeois, illustrated by Brenda Clark (Canadian Author)
- we actually had this book out before and enjoyed it so we both enjoyed reading it again.  Part of the appeal to us is that Sarah is the name of one of my children.  In the story Sarah has outgrown her favorite rubber boots and is not too pleased about it.  I love the story, and I also love the illustrations.  A great book to share with a child that is having trouble with letting go of some things that he/she has outgrown.  

A Summertime Song by Irene Haas
- I love this book!  It's a very whimsical story about a little girl that gets an invitation from a frog to go to a birthday party and ends up with a very special surprise.  I love the ending!

Olivia and Her Ducklings adapted by Veera Hiranandani, illustrated by Shane L. Johnson (Ready-to-Read: Level 1)
- I like Olivia a little better than Blue's Clues but I'm still not a fan of these Ready-to-Read books.  In this story Olivia makes friends with a family of ducks and they end up following her home.

Where is Baby's Beach Ball? by Karen Katz (a Lift-the-Flap book)
Anna liked this board book.  It's a great book for toddlers but even almost 5 year olds like to lift flaps.  :)  The baby has lost his ball and you have to lift the flaps to help him look for it.  This actually ended up being one that we revisited a lot and Anna could almost read the whole book totally by herself by the time we brought it back.

- this is actually another lift the flap book, but it's not a board book.  Anna enjoyed this one too.  Spot searches the farm for the animals his dad wants to show him.  It would make a good addition to a unit about animals and could be used to review the names of animals and their babies.

What a Treasure! by Jane and Will Hillenbrand
- a cute story about a mole that is digging for treasures and finds all kinds of things that are treasures for other creatures before he finds a treasure for himself.  Could be used in a social studies lesson talking about how what is a treasure to one person may not be to another.  This is another book we revisited a lot.  It has many repeated phrases.  Whenever I spot that in a book I make a point of pointing out the repeated phrases while I'm reading them and after I while I just start the phrases and get Anna to finish them.  I love how she gets into saying the phrases with expression.  She was really doing well with reading the repeated phrase by the time we brought the book back.

The Stuffed Animals Get Ready for Bed by Alison Inches, illustrated by Bryan Langdo
- nice bedtime story book.  A little girl tries to settle her toys down for bedtime.  We liked the rhythmic, rhyming words as well as the story.

A Second Is a Hiccup: A Child's Book of Time by Hazel Hutchins, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton ( Canadian author and illustrator)
- love this book.  A great book to use in a discussion of time and comparing the length of time between seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years. Could be used for math and social studies.  A very nice book.

Boy in Motion: Rick Hansen's Story by Ainslie Manson, illustrated by Renne Benoit (Canadian author)
- I wondered if this one would be too old for Anna but it wasn't.  It tells the story of the life of Rick Hanson.  I enjoyed learning more about his childhood and what made him who he was.  Could be used for social studies to talk about famous people and also about the challenges people in wheel chairs face and how they are just as normal as anyone else.

- this was a funny story, a parody of Curious George. It tells the story of an ape that keeps selling to different people but the ape keeps escaping and the man keeps finding him and selling him again. Could be used in a literature lesson to discuss parodies and the likeness and similarities of the stories.  This is another book that we revisited.  There were a few repeated phrases in this one too that Anna really enjoyed reading on her own.

- a good bedtime story.  A boy climbs aboard the sleepy cadillac and drops into dream station on his way to pajama land before being deposited back in his bed to sleep.

- this is actually a collection of 5 books by Canadian authors.  I love introducing Anna to Canadian author and we had already read books by a couple of these authors.  The site I've linked the title too has a great description of the book and you can also read excerpts from it there.

Blue's Checkup by Sarah Albee, illustrated by Ian Chernichaw
- in this story Blue is nervous about having to go to the doctor for a check-up but he gets through it just fine.  A nice book to share with a child that might not be looking forward to a visit to the doctor's office.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

This Week's Library Loot and a new plan

I have been listing the books we get from the library for a bit now but doing nothing more than listing them.  I'm thinking about adding short, one or two sentence, reviews of some of the books after we have read them.  For a while now I've been debating whether I'd post separate reviews for books, and I may do that from time to time, but I think for now after we have read all the books in the list I'll post a second post listing the books and including add short reviews.  The reviews will basically just be either a description of the books or my thoughts on the books and how they could be used for different subjects.

That's the plan for now anyway, we'll see how it goes.

These are the books we got from the library this week.  We got the books Tuesday and we actually have all but one of them read already!  I'll probably post my review post tomorrow.

My Visit with Periwinkle by Alison Inches, illustrated by David B. Levy (Ready-to-Read: Level 1)
Big Sarah's Little Boots by Paulette Bourgeois, illustrated by Brenda Clark
A Summertime Song by Irene Haas
Olivia and Her Ducklings adapted by Veera Hiranandani, illustrated by Shane L. Johnson (Ready-to-Read: Level 1)
Where is Baby's Beach Ball? by Karen Katz (a Lift-the-Flap book)
Spot Goes to the Farm by Eric Hill
What a Treasure! by Jane and Will Hillenbrand
The Stuffed Animals Get Ready for Bed by Alison Inches, illustrated by Bryan Langdo
A Second Is a Hiccup: A Child's Book of Time by Hazel Hutchins, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
Boy in Motion: Ricck Hansen's Story by Ainslie Manson, illustrated by Renne Benoit
Furious George Goes Bananas by Michael Rex
Sleepy Cadillac: A Bedtime Drive by Thacher Hurd
Read Me a Story: Canadian Favourites (5 different authors)
Blue's Checkup by Sarah Albee, illustrated by Ian Chernichaw

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

I have a post in this edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling

Carnival of Homeschooling

The Carnival of Homeschooling #253 is up at Dewey's Treehouse.  

I am so impressed with this Carnival for continuing so long.  I had tried to do a Canadian homeschoolers blog carnival for a while but life became to hectic to continue it.  I was trying to do it all myself, which really wasn't a good idea.  I have been thinking I might try to revive it again in the near future, but make some changes to it so that I'm not doing it all myself.  Let me know if you'd be interested in that.

Anyway, check out the Carnival of Homeschooling edition #253