I’ve been trying to figure out how to write this post for a while. We get so many questions, I feel bad just kind of shrugging my shoulders as my go to response. So! Let’s start this off!Read More
It crazy how positive reading experiences can transport you back into a moment in time. One of my earliest vivid memories of reading was before I entered into 1st grade and began reading on my own. My Mom read to my three younger siblings and I a ton, and one of our favorite books was Piggy Pie by Margi Palatini. My Mom was an amazing read aloud reader. She did the voices for each character and could flow easily through long sentences and made long chapters feel short. It was the beginning of my love for reading.
Flash forward to today. I have my own child I read out loud to (yes we have our own copy of Piggy Pie), whose own bookcase sags under the weight of her amassed book collection. Each book a production of reading it checked out from the library and previously enjoyed, matched based off of previously enjoyed books, or random picks based off the cover or snippets from inside. But each one, reflecting Ana's own personality and enjoyment.
I had been following the homeschool Instagram scene and one Mom in particular who seemed to have her shit together and had an enjoyable style and was down to earth. It almost seemed too good to be true I had thought to myself as I watched her Instagram story and then something caught my attention like a brick going through my window.
She was talking about her kids reading material and as she showed what her kids were reading (classics, obviously), she said something along the lines of...
"We've thrown out all the junk reading, like the Captain Underpants stuff..."
HOLD THE EFF UP LADY.
First of all, Captain Underpants is hilarious, but seriously? You're going to perpetuate the ludicrous idea of 'Good Reading' vs. 'Bad Reading'? Maybe instead of junk reading, there are just junk Instagram accounts...
Sometimes parents have this lunatic notion that there is 'good reading' aka books with no images and prose that make a grassy field vivid and beautiful, but also two pages long, and 'bad reading' which is basically any new, middle grade reading material that has any sort of imagery beyond the front cover. Graphic novels tend to be an easy target for 'bad reading.'
Amy Mascott made a great case for Graphic Novels over on Scholastics Website to help you understand a bit about why the 'good reading' vs. 'bad reading' philosophy is total bogus, but I couldn't believe such a popular homeschooling Mom was putting this out into the world. Didn't she know better?
I immediately hoped that parents with struggling readers didn't see this Instagram story. I hoped that they didn't see this and feel guilt about the content their child was reading and push their children who might be struggling to make a positive association with reading, away from the path they were on. Then I unfollowed that madwoman faster than someone would block a boob bot spam account.
There was a patron at the library I worked at who struggled with reading, but would call every other day to see if the graphic novel he had requested from another library in Michigan had come in yet. When it did, the library was his first stop after school. It wasn't long before that one was returned and a new one had been requested. When I asked my boss about graphic novels, as they were somewhat new to me, she told me
"They get kids who normally wouldn't pick up books to read and bring kids who wouldn't consider a library a place they would want to go, as a destination they now go to a lot."
I can't tell you the amount of friends I have who have never checked out a book for personal reading or even touched a book since high school ended, but I can tell you that there are vast differences in their language and comprehension of written text than the friends and family I have that built a positive relationship with reading.
Because I'm extra weird, I've even noticed a difference in my husbands language patterns and shifts in vocabulary since I had worked at the library and he checked out more Cormac McCarthy. He was way more willing and comfortable with reading aloud to Ana than he had previously been and flowed through pages with better ease.
Was it because he was reading Homer's Iliad or The Odyssey? No. It was simply because he was reading. Period.
So please parents, don't allow a lunatics notion of 'good' and 'bad' books to infiltrate your child's world of reading that that old bat did.
Just read to them and encourage them to read whatever genre fills their head with words.
One day, in the great, vast world of Instagram, I stumbled across a post of this gorgeous letter that had been sent to some lady's kid (I follow a shit ton of Mom's on Insta). So I clicked the photo and the tag for Letters From Afar popped up. I was hooked. For $6 a month, they mail you or your child, a letter from a different place in the world every month. As you can see, they look old and the letters are visually stunning, so the first one that came, Ana was enamored. Lucky for us, our first letter was from India! So we requested some books from our local library about India, I pulled up Pinterest and found some art projects to expand the learning, and we happen to have an Indian market in our city, Spice of India, so we made a stop there too!
Even if you don't have kids, the Letters From Afar Instagram is so worthy of a follow. Their feed is stunning.
We're always looking for new ways to learn, and coming from the public school system, I remember learning about geography by drawing a slip with a country name on it, finding 10 facts, slapping them on a poster board and presenting them. Once. In 6th grade. It was up to our peers to teach us about different countries and while some people, like my brother, were excellent at finding great facts and going above and beyond, a lot of the kids did the bare minimum and it was boring as feck. You know, the "This is the flag....uh....this is where it us....they like this food....that's all I could find," spiel.
Needless to say, this is a great, organic learning opportunity that you can customize a whole unit on and it's something Ana looks forward to every month. We're currently trying to buy the back dated letters to store for future unit's too, which is a nice feature they offer, so we'll let you know when we hear back.
We did a couple projects to go along with our learning. We tried THIS Taj Mahal project, but for the life of me, I couldn't find bleeding tissue paper (I didn't order the one she used, THIS ONE, but the reviews say it bleeds well). I ordered THESE squares from Amazon a while ago that ABSOLUTELY DO NOT BLEED despite their claim, but we ended up using our laminator and lust layering the squares with a black construction paper cut out that I traced and cut to make a silhouette.
The India Mini Book came from one of my favorite sites, Teachers Pay Teachers. You can find the book HERE, and Creative Classroom Core has so many mini books available, it's CRAZY. I printed mine at home, stapled and we read a page and colored the picture on it, making it a quick, but fun learning opportunity.
When we went to our Indian market, we found henna in a tube, so we picked up a tube of it, pulled up a design image on Google, and gave it a shot on Ana's feet. Oh, and Ana did a design on Chris' hand. Notes from our experience:
It's freaking hard and henna artists are INCREDIBLY talented.
It will darken after you pick it off. We let Ana's paste dry for an hour on her feet and when we picked it off before she went to bed, it was very light. When she woke up the next morning, it was at least two shades darker and so was Chris' hand.
I LOVED the smell. It smells a little bit like heaven. After we vacuumed up the dried paste flakes, every time I turn the vacuum on, it smells like henna. I'm not complaining.
We have an appointment set up with Happy Henna too where we'll get an informational lesson and a design done too.
I've put together a list of the books we used for our learning, HERE on Amazon and I included notes on the ones that we liked a lot or ones that stood out. We checked almost all of them out through our local library and even used our Michigan eLibrary for a few, so don't feel like you have to buy them.
One of our favorites though was The Story of Little Babaji, which I've also reviewed on Mrs. Motleys Bookshelf. Ana could not stop laughing when we read it and it was a great book to break up the informational text we used.
We used video's as well. We pulled up a short video of an Indian wedding on YouTube and on our Netflix, we watched:
India's Lost Worlds
India: Natures Wonderland
Tiger: Spy in the Jungle
This was an awesome study unit for us and we can't wait for our next letter from Isabelle and Letters From Afar (hint: the next place was a hit for Darwin and they have their own tortoise...)
We don't have a lot of flowering plants in our yard, so Chris and I stopped by Menards and grabbed a few plants from a list of butterfly approved plants and Ana and I planted them and took the opportunity to build the fairy garden she's been wanting to do for a while. We figured by the time we release our beautiful little Painted Ladies, they'll have had a chance to get settled and grow in a bit.
Our little learning corner has been decked out in butterfly decor and we've been using a ton of great things to help us learn about the butterfly life cycle. Since non-fiction can get repetitive for Ana, we've been using a familiar story to her, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, as a fun supplement. Our Butterfly Observation journal has been a fun way to keep track of how long it takes the butterflies to make transitions too! One of the greatest things is learning along side Ana. Like, I had no idea caterpillars could poop so much. Or that it's called "frass" which was a great source of entertainment to us.
We've labeled parts of a butterfly, which got picked up quickly since it echoes our ant anatomy a bit and our library has been a great source of butterfly books, both fiction and non. Ana is also a huuuge fanatic of YouTube videos so we watched this video about Monarchs and this video about the life cycle!
And while there are so many beautiful butterflies, we wanted to know which ones we could find around us, so I made this watercolor poster of common Michigan butterflies! Lucky for you, I scanned it in so you can do a Dollar Download HERE ($1!) and print it at home if you want a copy!