The Curious Kid’s Science Book by Asia Citro

Cover of The Curious Kid's Science Book by Asia Citro

 

 

 

 

The Curious Kid’s Science Book: 100+ Creative Hands-On Activities for Ages 4-8 by Asia Citro, M.Ed

When I was working as a librarian, I got a ton of science project questions. We had a lot of good resources, but some of the best books had ugly illustrations, and some of the pretty books had boring or overly-prescriptive projects. The Curious Kid’s Science Book is the book I always wanted to give out. It hits a sweet spot with photographs that will make you wonder, “Ooh, what are they doing there?”

The experiments are divided into eight chapters:

  • Plants and Seeds
  • Water and Ice
  • Mold, Bacteria, and Fungus
  • Engineering
  • Food and Candy
  • Baking Soda and Vinegar
  • Environmental Science
  • Living Things

Within each chapter, there are experiments, challenges, and “explore” projects.

Experiments are the most like what you’ll find in most science project books, with a question and list of materials. But, I love how much the book encourages the child to design the experiment, rather than just following a list of instructions. In the experiment to determine the best depth for growing seeds, it gives a list of things to consider: “How many seeds will you use? What kind? What depths are you going to use? How long will you run the experiment? How often will you measure growth?” and so on. (p. 35) So many science project books would tell you all those things to make sure you get the right answer. This book really encourages scientific thought.

Challenges give a goal and ask the child to figure out how to get there. One of these challenges is to keep ice from melting. There is no list of required materials, instead it asks the scientists to find materials around their house to try — “plastic wrap, towels, paper towels, tape, rubber bands, and anything else you can think of!” (p. 68)

Explore projects are the most open ended and include things like dissecting plants and flowers, fitting as many drops of water as you can on a penny, and making Epsom salt crystals.

Throughout the book, there are pictures of real kids with their experiments, inset boxes with real-life applications, and extension ideas. On the egg drop experiment, the “real life application” box asks the child to look at the what is protecting the contents of a mailed package. “Do you see any similarities between this and what you tried? Does it give you more ideas?” (p. 113) On the same egg drop experiment, an extension suggestion is to try using a smaller container for the egg. “Is it easier or harder to keep the shell from cracking?” (p. 113)

While the book gives the kids a lot of freedom to investigate, the book is also designed with parents in mind. Experiments that require no preparation ahead of time are clearly marked — and there are many! The materials are easily found and inexpensive. Most projects have a number of options for materials or ask the child to find things around the house to use.

My family has enjoyed several of the projects from this book and I’m looking forward to doing more! The subtitle of the book is “100+ Creative Hands-on Activities for ages 4-8,” though I’m sure older kids would have a great time, too! Have fun!

 

Disclosure: DFW Homeschool Resource will receive a small commission from any Amazon purchases made through the links in this post. This helps our site to run. Thanks!

Source: Purchased for my home library

Laura Jewell is a mom to three young readers in Richardson. She was a children’s librarian at a public library before deciding to stay home with her girls.

Fly Guy Presents…

cover of Fly Guy Presents: The White House

Fly Guy Presents… series written and illustrated by Tedd Arnold

(This review contains affiliate links.)

You may know Fly Guy as the star of a slapstick-y early reader series about a boy and his pet fly. My literal-minded oldest daughter has never connected with them, but we stumbled across the non-fiction Fly Guy Presents series and it has been a huge success! The same buddy pair provides a funny framework for all kinds of high-interest topics: dinosaurs, bats, space, castles, and so on. We borrowed Fly Guy Presents: Sharks and Fly Guy Presents: The White House from our local library.

Each book sets up the scene — in Sharks, Fly Guy and Buzz are visiting the aquarium — and then combines photographs, illustrations, and text to give a good overview of the subject. Fly Guy and Buzz provide punny commentary, fun tidbits, and keep the narrative moving. In the two we’ve read, the series is able to pack a lot of information into an easy-to-read format, and keep the interest high. My middle daughter’s favorite part of The White House is the page about ghosts in the White House. Apparently President Taft’s staff believed they saw the ghost of Abigail Adams hanging laundry!

We will definitely check out more in this fun series. I can’t wait to hear what Fly Guy thinks of snakes!

 

Disclosure: DFW Homeschool Resource will receive a small commission from any Amazon purchases made through the links in this post. This helps our site to run. Thanks!

Source: Borrowed from my public library.

Laura Jewell is a mom to three young readers in Richardson. She was a children’s librarian at a public library before deciding to stay home with her girls.

Sarah Morton’s Day and other books about pilgrim life

Cover of Sarah Morton's Day by Kate Waters

Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl by Kate Waters, photographs by Russ Kendall

(This review contains affiliate links.)

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, my husband and I took a “last vacation before baby” trip to Boston. While we were browsing things to do there, I came across a listing for Plimoth Plantation. I told my husband that we HAD to go there, because of a book I had when I was a kid.

The book was Sarah Morton’s Day by Kate Waters. In it, photographs show a day in the life of a girl living in Plimoth Colony in 1627. She tends chickens, helps her mother cook over an open fire, and mucks the garden. I was fascinated by all the layers of clothes she wore — three petticoats! — and her pilgrim vernacular. It gave me a glimpse into how hard life was without modern conveniences, far from any other villages. It also helped me think of the pilgrims as real people with real faces, not just a vague concept. Sarah Morton was just like me … except that I’ve never polished a brass kettle or drawn water from the spring. It brought Plimoth Colony to life so clearly that I still wanted to visit twenty years later!

 

A nine-year old girl and her mother cooking over an open fire

While Sarah Morton was a real girl, the photographs of her, obviously, are not. The pictures are of an actor at Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts. There are three other books about real kids living in (or near) Plimoth Plantation that are also still in print and well worth a study.

Tapenum’s Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times

(part of the Plimoth Plantation museum is the Wampanoag village near the pilgrim settlement, a wonderful glimpse into the two different cultures in the same setting.)

Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy

On the Mayflower: Voyage of the Ship’s Apprentice and a Passenger Girl

All recommended for ages 5-10.

 

Disclosure: DFW Homeschool Resource will receive a small commission from any Amazon purchases made through the links in this post. This helps our site to run. Thanks!

Source: Purchased by my mom many years ago. 🙂

Laura Jewell is a mom to three young readers in Richardson. She was a children’s librarian at a public library before deciding to stay home with her girls.

Read! Read! Read!

cover of Read! Read! Read!

Read! Read! Read!

Poems by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke

 

 

 

 

 

(This review contains affiliate links.)

I’m always on the lookout for new books of poetry to read with my kids. One day we’ll be ready for Serious Poetry, but for now, short books with lively poems and colorful pictures are our mainstay. It lets us build an appreciation for poetry in a completely low-stress way. When I stumbled across Read! Read! Read! by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke at my library, I knew we had a winner.

Read! Read! Read! celebrates the joy of reading and all the ways that we read in a day. The first poem is about learning to read independently:

And one day

I took off.

I was swooping

alone

over words

once confusing

but now

all my own.

(from Pretending, p. 6)

 

And from there, it’s about reading everything in sight, from the cereal box to maps and beyond.

Today is my birthday.

I open Grandpa’s envelope

slowly

so I don’t rip his crazy doodles.

I don’t look for money.

I look for words.

(from Birthday Card, p. 26)

Some poems are about specific reading experiences, some are about the nature of being a reader.

You’ll wander through a forest.

You’ll open up a door

whispering under your breath –

I’ve been here once before.

Because you have.

You’ve read the words.

You’ve seen the pictures too.

Every single thing you read

becomes a part of you.

(from Forever, p. 24)

 

Read! Read! Read! is in picture book format, with a full-color illustration accompanying each poem. Look for favorite storybook characters in some of the pictures, plus clever additions like alphabet soup letters giving the reader even more to read! Recommended for ages 4-9.

 

Disclosure: DFW Homeschool Resource will receive a small commission from any Amazon purchases made through the links in this post. This helps our site to run. Thanks!

Source: My public library.

Laura Jewell is a mom to three young readers in Richardson. She was a children’s librarian at a public library before deciding to stay home with her girls.

Review – Sequence Letters Game for Kids

Sequence Letters Game Reivew

Sequence Game DFW Homeschool Resource On a rainy day, I brought out our Sequence Letters game. If you’re familiar with the adult version, it’s got a similar goal. Instead of stretching the board, you’re just trying to connect four. The game can be played with up to 6 people, but that makes 3 teams of 2. In our case, we played 1 team of 2 and 2 teams of 1 each. The game box says ages 4-7. My 6 and 10 year old played on their own teams. I played along with the four year old. (This post contains affiliate links)

How to play:

Each player earns a square by matching a letter card in their hand to a picture. The pictures are also color coded with the squares to help the very young to narrow down the choices. My big two know their letters and sounds and it was pretty easy to match up. However, it did cause them to have to think, “What starts with the letter L?” Players are able to block each other which amused my big two and made the youngest mad. The letter X allows a player to remove a chip already placed on the board. Letter Z card allows them to place a chip on any square they want.

For my 4 year old non- reader and non-phonics child, I would show her the card and tell her the letter. The big two then would tell her what picture to look for. The game is definitely for children in between my 4 and 6 year old in letter and phonics abilities.Sequence Game DFW Homeschool Resource

The game took longer than I thought it would. Mostly because there was a lot of discussion on where they were going to put a chip to block someone. The youngest got mad if someone “took” her favorite pictures. I would not recommend playing the game with a bunch of 4 year olds! It probably is easiest with a mixed age group. If the ages and abilities are varied then there are different ways to learn from the game. If you want to buy your own, head over to buy it HERE!

(I was not asked to review this game. I did so because we enjoy playing it! Affiliate links are present but they’re at no cost to you! They help keep the lights on around here from the small commission we get)

October 20, 2017

Cover art of Pashima by Nidhi Chanani

Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani

(This review contains affiliate links.)

Priyanka has never been very interested in her Indian heritage. But, when life gets too hard – teasing at school, a cousin in the NICU, and feeling misunderstood by her mom – she turns to the faith she’s never really believed in. In desperation, she prays to the goddess Shakti, hoping for some help – any help. The next day, she finds a beautifully embroidered pashmina (shawl). When she puts it on, she dreams that she visits India, guided by an elephant and a peacock who show her the beauty and wonder of the country.

Her visions inspire her to find out more about her mother’s life before she came to the US, and she begs to visit India. Her mother absolutely refuses. But why? What secrets lie in her past, and why is she so adamant about not returning to her home country, even for a visit?

In her debut graphic novel, Nidhi Chanani weaves a story of a teenager reckoning with her identity, both as an Indian-American and in a universal coming-of-age.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and it would serve as a great jumping-off place for learning more about India. Pri and her mom discuss saris and salwars, which led me to YouTube videos of how to tie a sari. There is a ton of food in the book, and it will leave you wanting to visit an Indian restaurant stat.  All in all, this book that I picked up for a quick read turned out to be full of heart and inspiration.

Recommended for ages 10-14.

Disclosure: DFW Homeschool Resource will receive a small commission from any Amazon purchases made through the links in this post. This helps our site to run. Thanks!

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.

Laura Jewell is a mom to three young readers in Richardson. She was a children’s librarian at a public library before deciding to stay home with her girls.

Perot Museum: A New Review

We recently visited the Perot Museum for the first time in about two years. When the museum first opened, we had a membership. I let the membership expire after two years. My children at that point were 8,4, and 2. It was more chaos than fun as soon as my youngest started having opinions!

Since then, my kids have repeatedly begged to go back. It’s rather expensive without a membership, especially if you think you’ll be back again within a year. I saw the museum post about needing families for a user study, so I quickly signed up! Being apart of the study would get us into the museum for free. My children were over the moon excited when we found out we could participate in the survey.

The only catch was that we were going to be follow around by an anthropologist! I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but for a free visit, I was game.

Perot Museum DFW Homeschool Resource
Musical stair case.

The Visit

We met the anthropologist, Rose, in the museum parking lot. She was charged with observing us from the moment we stepped onto the museum grounds until we left again. During the visit she timed how long we were at different exhibits and asked us questions about how we felt when we stopped for lunch.

I was pleasantly surprised by my children this visit. Previously I had dragged out at least one whining child who had clearly overstayed their welcome. Being now that my children had grown a few years, they ALL were able to really interact with the museum. We didn’t even have to go to the children’s museum as a compromise.

Perot Museum DFW Homeschool Resource
Getting ready to race a T-Rex.

We started at the bottom because despite racing a T-Rex 5,000 times in the past, we had to do it again. The options for racing hadn’t changed since the last time we were there, but that didn’t bother my children. We then decided to go up to the top level and work our way back down.

Perot Museum DFW Homeschool Resource
Flying like an eagle.

The bird floor, which had never really held their attention before, was a big hit. They also got more of a kick out of the robotics floor. Unfortunately, we landed there at the end of our visit. We had to be somewhere by 4pm that day so we didn’t get as much time as they wanted.

Perot Museum DFW Homeschool Resource
Favorite part for the 4 year old.
Restrospect

This time I had to drag three sad kids away from the museum. They really want to go back again soon, and I’m ready to oblige! It was fun to have someone follow us around. I got to voice my opinion (and opinions I’ve heard from other homeschoolers) on the museum. Things like…it’s SO crowded ALL day. It was so hard when we were members to navigate the museum when there were hundreds of school children around. I suggested one or two days a month where they could promise no field trips. They had that in the past, but it was a weekly thing. I think that was too much because it didn’t last too long.

Will we go back? Yes. Although I need to figure out when we can avoid school field trips. Maybe during STAAR testing (or whatever they’re calling it now). I was pleasantly surprised how two years of maturing made the museum fun. Personally, if you have children of varying ages, I would wait until they’re all old enough to actually pause and look at things. My four year old has really good concentrations and the museum was finally able to hold her interest. She even enjoyed the gem hall because the rocks were pretty.

(I was not asked to write this blog post. We did receive a gift card from the museum for participating in the survey. I didn’t know I was going to get that at the end. It was a nice surprise. The review here is my own and no one influenced what I wrote here!)

First Chapter Books to Read Aloud

(These reviews contain affiliate links)

When my oldest was about 3, I couldn’t wait to start reading chapter books with her. I was a librarian by training, a homeschooler at heart, and a reader since… always. I had dreams of us reading a chapter a night from our book and was eager to get started. But, it felt very hard to find books that were suitable for someone so young. So many “early chapter books” dealt with school or friendship troubles or other things that were far outside of her experiences. Through some digging, research, and talking with other librarians, we found some great books that have gone on to be family favorites. And, as an extra bonus, having them in our home library means that they’re ready for her when she’s reading chapter books on her own!

Here’s what we found; I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments!

cover art for Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same

 

Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same by Grace Lin

A series of four very, very beginning chapter books (my library keeps them with the early readers). Ling and Ting are twins, but they are not exactly the same. In bite-sized stories, they have sweet daily-life adventures: playing, cooking, and observing the seasons. This series was perfect for my realistic fiction-loving, literal-minded eldest.

 

 

 

 

cover art of Mercy Watson to the Rescue

Mercy Watson (series) by Kate DiCamillo

This funny six-book series about a pet pig and her owners is so much fun to read aloud! Mr. and Mrs. Watson are convinced that Mercy is a porcine wonder. In one book, she inadvertently alerts the fire department to an emergency at the Watsons’ and saves the day. However, she does it by smushing her nose against a neighbor’s window looking for sugar cookies. The startled neighbor calls the fire department, which arrives in time to save the Watsons. This series features a lot of funny secondary characters that have inspired their own spin-off series for slightly older readers, Tales from Deckawoo Drive. And, I can’t talk about this series without mentioning the fantastic art by Chris VanDusen. The characters’ exaggerated features and expressions dial up the humor and make it as much fun to “read” the pictures as the words.

 

 

Cover art for Dinosaurs Before Dark

Magic Tree House (series) by Mary Pope Osborne

This series is hardly a secret, but I was surprised how much my three- and four-year-olds have loved it! The audiobooks are our family go-to for car trips. Jack and Annie discover a tree house in the woods near their home that can take them through time and space. Early in the series, they visit the dinosaurs, ninjas, and the moon. I think the series really shines in the later installments, which are a bit longer, when they visit specific historic events and figures – the 1889 Paris World’s Fair, Louis Armstrong, and many (many) others.

 

 

 

cover art of Two Times the Fun

 

Two Times the Fun

Twins Jimmy and Janet have four old-fashioned adventures in this lesser-known Beverly Cleary book. These simple stories are heart-warming and wholesome, inspired by Cleary’s own twins.

 

 

 

 

Cover art for My Father's Dragon

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

This is one that showed up on nearly every list of “chapter books for preschoolers” I found, yet I never read it until my second daughter was ready for longer books. A boy sets off on an adventure to a mysterious, remote island. He must outsmart a series of animals before he reaches the mistreated baby dragon he is trying to rescue. It is fun adventure for kids who like a tiny bit of excitement. Originally published in 1948, it has an old-fashioned feel, from a time when there might have been undiscovered islands with unknown treasures.

 

 

 

cover art of Maybelle in the Soup

Maybelle in the Soup

Maybelle is a cockroach who lives under the refrigerator in a posh apartment. She and her friend Henry, a flea, get in over their heads as they seek a more exciting life (and diet) than crumbs dropped on the floor. Funny illustrations bring Maybelle with her big, floppy hairbow to life. In other installments, she spends a night in a hotel – with room service! – and visits an equally appetizing school cafeteria.

 

 

 

 

cover art of Mrs. Noodlekugel

 

Mrs. Noodlekugel

This quirky, slightly surreal series is laugh-out-loud funny and has added a few phrases to our family’s inside-joke vocabulary. Mrs. Noodlekugel is a funny old lady who lives with four blind cats in a Narnia-ish cottage hidden inside a big city. Nick and Maxine are put in her care and spend their time learning the ways of her unique visitors, including Drooly the Bear and a talking cat named Oldface. It’s reminiscent of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and I only wish there were more books in the series.

 

 

cover art of Diva and Flea

The Story of Diva and Flea

The longest of this batch, but arguably my family’s favorite. Diva is a little white dog who lives in an apartment building in Paris. Flea is a cat who doesn’t live anywhere in particular, but knows the city inside and out. They meet and each help push the other out of their comfort zone. Gorgeous illustrations by Tony DiTerlizzi and first-rate writing by Mo Willems, this makes a delightful readaloud.

 

 

 

 

Disclosure: DFW Homeschool Resource will receive a small commission from any Amazon purchases made through the links in this post. This helps our site to run. Thanks!

Source: I was not asked to review these books. I purchased some for my home library and borrowed some from my public library.

Laura Jewell is a mom to three young readers in Richardson. She was a children’s librarian at a public library before deciding to stay home with her girls.

October 6, 2017

Cover image of The Unhurried Homeschooler

 

The Unhurried Homeschooler by Durenda Wilson

(This post contains affiliate links.)

If you’re just getting started homeschooling or need a little boost, consider The Unhurried Homeschooler by Durenda Wilson. In just 78 pages, this veteran mom distills why we’re really homeschooling and how to do it with less stress.

As a mom of eight, Durenda has figured out what works for her. Her family takes a slow-and-steady approach that is completely unfussy… and it has worked for each of their children. She emphasizes that homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint. If you find that many of the methods out there are overwhelming, she’s here to help… before you burn out or damage your relationship with your kids.

In short, lovely chapters, she teaches how to trust your instincts, how to keep going through difficult times, and how to relax into a pace that will serve your family well. She celebrates the freedom that homeschooling gives: something different for every family, according to their family culture and interests.

The Wilsons homeschool in part for religious reasons and the book reflects that, but it is not overwhelming. For Christian readers, she encourages you to trust God to take what you can bring and turn it into an abundance. For non-Christian readers, there is more than enough encouragement to keep going, through good times and hard times.

The Kindle version of The Unhurried Homeschooler is only $2.99 and only a few dollars more for the paperback. Not a bad price for some peace of mind.

 

 

Disclosure: DFW Homeschool Resource will receive a small commission from any Amazon purchases made through the links in this post. This helps our site to run. Thanks!

Source: Purchased for my own library.

Laura Jewell is a mom to three young readers in Richardson. She was a children’s librarian at a public library before deciding to stay home with her girls.

 

 

 

 

 

Marble Paper – Craft Time Activity

We did a new craft this week: making marble paper. My middle one was looking over my shoulder while I scrolled through a craft group I am yesterday. Someone posted a video on making marble scarves. If you’ve never seen the process, you must check out this video on the art. So cool! Her eyes lit up and begged to run to the store for the supplies. (This post contains affiliate links)

 

Because I like crafting so much as well, I had to oblige. I didn’t have any silk, but I did have some sketch paper, acrylic paint, and a pan! We ran out to the store quickly and grabbed some liquid starch and alum. We were pretty impressed with the results. The first papers we did turned out better than subsequent ones. The starch got muddled pretty quickly, I think we put way too much paint in the pan. I also think we should have diluted the paint a lot more so that it didn’t sink to the bottom. As we did more paper, the globs of paint under the surface mixed with the paint on top.

Another thing we learned is that if you’ve dragged the design vertically, pick up the paper in the same direction so that the excess runs down with your design. Also, when you rinse off the starch, some of the muddled paint will disappear leaving your design behind. One more thing, don’t keep the water focused on one part of your paper. The water will wash the paint off, so gentle water while continuously moving the paper is best.

Here is what you need to make marble paper:

Liquid Starch (in the laundry section)

Alum (found with the spices)

Acrylic paints 

Pan or drawer about 9X13

Paper with texture…don’t use copy paper

Popsicle sticks, wide toothed comb, nail, hair pic, etc.

  1. The starch and alum need to be mixed together in your pan with a ration of 2 cups starch to 1 tsp alum. You may need to double it to make it at least 1″ deep in your pan.
  2. Dilute your acrylic paints in cups. You don’t want them as thin as water, but straight out of the bottle will cause the colors to sink.
  3. Drip your paints onto the starch pan however you like. Big drips, small drips. marble paper DFW Homeschool Resource
  4. Take one of your tools like the popscilcle stick and drag it through the paint making it swirl together. Don’t mix too much because you don’t want the colors to blend together. marble paper DFW Homeschool Resource
  5. Carefully lay your paper on the surface of the starch.
  6. Carefully pick up the paper from two corners.
  7. Rinse in gentle water from the tap.
  8. Lay down to dry. It’ll take about 2 hours for it to dry.
  9. Admire your work! marble paper DFW Homeschool Resource

This craft is even great for little ones. They can help drip the paint and swirl it. You’ll need to help by laying the paper down and picking it up.

(This post contains affiliate links. I was not asked to review these products or promote them in anyway. These are the items that we used to make our marble paper. This is at no cost to you and helps us keep the lights on around here!)