Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Theme Weeks - Art Week

This is the first summer I have done a week dedicated only to Art, usually I incorporate art into whatever theme we are studying that week. I was inspired by two things:  my friend Holly's art blog hollysartcorner.blogspot.com and the fact there is a Picasso exhibit at the Kimball Art Museum near our home. I had a lot of fun with this week. It was not as organized as I like to be, but I found some wonderful art books and got a lot of ideas that I plan to work on for next year.

It was interesting to see what my kids came up with during their projects.  My oldest, a rule follower and not a great lover of art projects, gamely attempted everything I came up with, but was upset when some of his projects did not turn out exactly the way he hoped.  My daughter, who loves art and could do art projects all day long, had a great time the whole week.  My youngest, is a free spirit who doesn't like to spend too much time on any kind of project--which is reflected in his art works for the week.

Here are some of the art books we used:

Dickins, Rosie and Mari Griffith. The Usborne Introduction to Art. New York: Scholastic, 2003. -- A good very broad overview of art with internet links included

J's Japanese bridge
Venezia, Mike. The Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artist Series. Chicago: Children's Press, 1988. -- A series written in easy reader format with cartoon drawings interspersed with the text and photos of the original artworks.

S's circle study
Laurence Anholt. A series featuring various artists: Leonardo and the Flying Boy, Picasso and the Girl with the Ponytale, Degas and the Little Dancer, and Camille and the Sunflowers. -- A great series told in a picture book format using many of the artists original works. Each story uses an actual event in the artist life and brings it to life in an enganging way kids will enjoy.

Littlesugar, Amy. Marie in Fourth Position: The Story of Degas' "The Little Dancer." New York: Philomel Books, 1996.

Mayhew, James. Katie's Picture Show, Katie and the British Artists, Katie and the Spanish Princess, Katie Meets the Impressionists, New York: Scholastic.  --A picture book series featuring a young girl who visits various art museums.  In each book she jumps into different works of art and meets the people in them.  A bit contrived, but an easy fun way to intoduce kids to great works of art, artistic periods and artists.

Our still life pictures.
The Dot and Ish  by Peter Reynolds. --Two fun picture books showing how easy it is to produce art.  Wonderful wimsical illustrations and a great message for kids, especially those who think nothing they make is good enough.

Other Activities:

I especially loved J's still life showing
off his free spirit!

My kids loved art week so much we are planning another Art Week later this summer to spend more time on modern art.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dessert Series my Kids are Reading

My kids love to read what I call 'dessert' books as well as 'main course' books. In the summer I have to remember how important it is for them to read dessert books.  Yesterday at the library S, checked out a Stink book by Megan McDonald which he finished by the time we got home from the library.  Definitely a dessert book, but we all know how nice to read a book and not have to think at all!

I could do without the series books that churn out a new title each month, but I understand why kids love the predicability of these types of books.  This summer we are reading dessert books right along side our main course books and enjoying both!

Some dessert book series my kids are reading this summer:

The Rainbow Fairy Series by Daisy Meadows- a very popular early reader series for girls that never seems to end. Not great literature,  but my daughter loves them and has been reading about one a day.

The Perfectly Princess Series by Alyssa Crowne - An easy reader series for girls printed on purple paper! Another series my daughter loves.
Usborne Fairy Tale Series - A cute easy reader series retelling basic fairy tales with humor and lots of  kid friendly pictures.
Geronimo Stilton - a VERY popular series that seems to go on and on and on. Tells the story of a mouse who runs a newspaper and has crazy adventures with his nephew, sister and cousin.  Lots of bright fun illustrations and quirky use of fonts within the text.
The Time Warp Trio by Jon Sciezka - a great series about three boys who travel back in time.  A lot more fun than The Magic Tree House series.
Dragon Slayers Academy by Kate McMullen - An easy reader series that reminds me of How to Train Your Dragon.  A young boy leaves his family to go learn to fight dragons and become a hero.  Lots of quirky characters and cartoon like drawings highlight the story.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books we Shared by Alice Ozma


I just read about this book on the NPR website.  It tells the story of a father and daughter building and maintaing a relationship through reading together every night.  I can't wait to read it!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Theme Weeks: Space I --the Planets

J's solar system painting.

Each week of the summer I plan a weekly theme with books, crafts, cooking, and field trips.  The first week of this summer we are focusing on Space -- The Planets.  We decided there was so much to investigate in space we are spreading it over two weeks.  I love how excited my kids get about doing theme weeks, it allows me to slip in learning over the summer and they don't even mind!
C and S working on their solar system drawing.
For Planet Week each of my kids picked a planet to study.  S picked Neptune, C picked Mars and J picked Pluto, the dwarf planet.  The first thing we do at the beginning of a new theme week is head to the library and check out everything imaginable on our topic. Here are some of the things we picked up:

Solar System Books:
Kudlinski, Kathleen V. Boy, Were We Wrong about the Solar System! NY, NY: Dutton Children's Books, 2008.
Mattern, Joanne. The Pebble First Guide to the Solar System. Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2010.
Sexton, Colleen. The Solar System. Minneapolis, MN: Bellwether Media, 2010.
Trammel, Howard K. The Solar System: A True Book. New York: Children's Press, 2010.

S with paper mache Neptune.
Brimmer, Larry Dane. Neptune: A True Book. New York: Children's Press, 1999.
Landau, Elaine. Neptune: A True Book. New York: Children's Press, 2008.
Rau, Dana Meachen. Neptune: Our Solar System. Minneapolis, MN: Compass Point Books, 2003.
Simon, Seymour. Neptune. New York: Morrow Junior Books, 1991.


C working on Mars.
Brimmer, Larry Dane. Mars A True Book. New York: Children's Press, 1998.
Feinstein, Stephen. The Solar System: Mars. Berkeley Heights, NJ: MyReportLink.com Books, 2005.
Leedy, Loreen and Andrew Schuerger. Message From Mars. New York: Holiday House, 2006.
Rau, Dana Meachen. Mars: Our Solar System. Minneapolis, MN: Compass Point Books, 2002.

Rau, Dana Meachen. Pluto: Our Solar System. Minneapolis, MN: Compass Point Books, 2003.
Landau, Elaine. Pluto From Planet to Dwarf: A True Book. New York: Children's Press, 2008.
Scott, Elaine. When is a Planet Not a Planet? The Story of Pluto. New York: Clarion Books, 2007.
J working on Pluto.
Kortenkamp, Steve. Why Isn't Pluto a Planet? A Book About Planets.  Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2007.

Bill Nye the Science Guy: Outer Space
The Magic School Bus Blasts Off

World Book -- accessed through our local libraries webpage
National Geographic for Kids http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/

Here are some of the activities we did:
  • Create power points on each of the planets, presented at the end of the week
  • Make Moon Pies (Really have nothing to do with the moon, but were super fun to make! rhttp://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Southern-Moon-Pies/Detail.aspx)
  • Make Paper Mache planets
  • Take a trip to the planetarium at the Museum of Science and Nature
  • Learn poems and songs about the solar system to recite at the end of the week. (A website with fun songs and poems about the solar system: http://www.canteach.ca/elementary/songspoems34.html)
  • Painting and drawing space pictures
  • Watching space movies
Can't wait to try the Moon Pies!

S, C, and J with Pluto, Mars and Neptune,
complete with icy caps and Neptune's black storm.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ordinary Boy -- by William Boniface

We just finished reading the first book in the Ordinary Boy series -- The Hero Revealed.  Our eight year old and four year old boys loved it! Ordinary Boy, or O Boy, is the only "ordinary" boy in town full of superheros.  However, this is not as bad as it may seem. Each person in the town has some sort of superpower --some more beneficial than others.  For example, Melon Head's superpower is that he is shaped like a melon and spits watermelon seeds.  The Spore is able to produce mold at a moments notice.  O Boy's friends, Plasma Girl, Tadpole, Halogen Boy, and Stench, are on a quest to find a missing card in a series of superhero trading cards.  As they search for the card they find more than they expected and soon have a close encounter with Professor Brain Drain -- who is as scary as his name implies.

My kids loved the ridiculous superpowers that many of the superheros had, the humor, the action, the adventure, and the surprise ending.  A great read aloud that the whole family will enjoy! This is the first book in a series that we can not wait to continue.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Kevin Henkes

Kevin Henkes is one of my favorite authors.  His engrossing stories are filled with humor and sympathetic characters who experience realistic problems.  Henkes offers logical and subtle conclusions that kids will appreciate and understand.  Below are just a few of his wonderful books for preschoolers and gradeschoolers. Also, check out Kevin Henkes website: www.kevinhenkes.com

Lily and the Purple Plastic Purse -- Lucy is so excited to bring her purple plastic purse to school for show and tell that she can't sit still.  Her beloved teacher takes the purse away to be returned at the end of the day.  Lily becomes so angry she draws a mean picture of her teacher. After getting her purse back and reading a sympathetic note from her teacher she realizes she is no longer angry and has to figure out how to solve the problem.  Great lessons on dealing with anger and apologizing.

Owen -- the classic story of a child ready to give up his special blanket.....but not quite yet.  With the help of a neighbor the family works through this problem.

Bailey Goes Camping -- Bailey the youngest of three children is disappointed when his older siblings are allowed to go camping and he is not.  His parents save the day by having a "camping" trip right in his own home.  A great story for kids who are often feel left behind.

Wemberly Worried -- Wemberly worries about the first day of school, but soon meets a new friend and realizes maybe she doesn't have to worry quite so much. Great for kids about to start kindergarten.

Birds-- a bright colorful book cronicling a young girls observations about birds.

A Good Day -- Four animals start off having a bad day, which soon turns good.

Kitten's First Full Moon -- a kitten learns, the hard way, that the full moon is not a saucer of milk. Newberry Honor Award Winner

Do you have a favorite Kevin Henkes book?