19 April, 2011

A Living Bookshelf

A living book is a book that opens your mind, inspires you to read more, or to learn more about a person, event, or time in history. A living book will ask to be read again, or quoted from as you read through it. A living book will be re-enacted by your children in the backyard or the living room theatre. A living book will sprout ideas for a new project or writing lesson.

Many of you are aware of the great booklists - especially Ambleside Online's booklists. These lists have been the backbone of our read-aloud books over the years.

But we have also come across many books that are not on those lists. I would like to share a little bit about some of the books sitting on my bookshelf in the picture.

Nestled between the big Matthew Henry commentary on the book of Matthew, and one of the girls' Bibles, is a red & black book called "People in History" written by R.J. Unstead. This is what he writes in his introduction:

Every age has its heroes who stir the imagination and shape the lives of ordinary people. For a child in particular, tales of heroism and adventure, of high courage and achievement, are an important and essential part of his development, as well as his first introduction to history.

Unstead then goes on to "tell the stories" of many historical characters, from Boadicea, to William the Conqueror, to Florence Nightingale. The stories are accompanied by black and white, and some colour illustrations. Unstead has written many other books on different time periods, and they are always a delight to read.

Another book on the shelf - infact a set of books, are those by Arthur Mee. They are the red and green books, three of which are without dustjackets, toward the right hand end of the bottom shelf. One of them is called "The Wonderful Journey". This is Arthur Mee's introduction:

Here we will let imagination do its work; we will roam among the great sights of the world. This is no guide-book. It is a picture of things that a busy man has seen when he has found the courage and the time to say Good-bye to Little Treasure island, and to run over the hills and far away. It is a look-back to happy days and far-off things...

...from this hilltop [in Kent] with all its thrilling wonder, we may pass in not many hours to stand among the ruins of Time and her ancient empires. We can be in Egypt or in Rome. We can walk among the ruins of Pompeii, and look upon the monuments the Romans left behind. Within a week we can stand in the heart of a mountain and gaze on the face of Pharoah lying where his people left him long ago. We can see the shadows of their mighty walls creep across the sands of Egypt. Let us imagine we are there again. Let us go together on this journey through Time and some of her wonders.

"A Wonderful Journey" is another book that tells the stories of historical characters, but also makes you feel as though you have been to all the places and seen the characters!
Arthur Mee also wrote a children's newspaper, about all manner of different subjects. They were eventually published as "The Children's Encyclopaedia", which we have a copy of. The girls spend hours pouring over these books!

I always look out for these two authors, because I know they will not disappoint!

15 April, 2011

Autumn Haiku

I have often started my girls off with nature diaries, but they have never really taken off. Not that we dont' "do" nature study, but I've been a bit fussy about trying to find the "ideal" notebooks for the girls to use.

One of the other problems was the reluctance of one of my girls to draw, but after several drawing workshops with Graham Braddock, and some basic art lessons, she has gained a lot of confidence.

In our little co-op yesterday, we gave the girls their new notebooks and sent them outside to draw whatever they liked. Then with the help of our collection of NZ nature identification books we helped them identify their pictures so that they could label them in their books. In addition, inspired by "Poem in your Pocket Day", I had the girls write simple Haiku poems to go with something they had drawn. I found a helpful webpage here. Instead of announcing to the girls that I wanted them to write a poem, I asked them to write down a few little notes about the things they drew. Then we picked out several of the descriptive words and formed them into Haiku poems, which they wrote into their nature notebooks. Here are some of the results:

Purple Hebe growing
On the big green bush
Sunset Boulevard

The Red Robin leaf
On our hedge around the front
Growing very well.

Three heart-shaped leaves
Growing along the stone path
Oxalis flowers.

Red velvet petunias
Spilling over the sides of
A terracotta pot.

Very fluffy seeds
Dandelion on the lawn
blow the seeds away.

14 April, 2011

A New Zealand Poem for your Pocket!

In the US of A, it is Poetry Month right now. And today, is Poem in your Pocket Day. Click on the link to find out more, but int he meantime, here is the little poem that inspires "Poem in your Pocket Day."

by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers

Keep a poem in your pocket
And a picture in your head
And you'll never feel lonely
At night when you're in bed.

The little poem poem will sing to you
The little picture bring to you
A dozen dreams to dance to you
At night when you're in bed


Keep a picture in your pocket
And a poem in your head
And you'll never feel lonely
At night when you're in bed

Here's a couple of little poems from a newly discovered(by me) New Zealand writer, Susan Dassler:

History Lessons

Of Great King Alfred this I learnt,
How carelessly some cakes he burnt,
Then William One arrived at Dover,
He brought us all ancestors over.
Charles the First, so I have read,
Became so vain he lost his head.
Elizabeth had golden tresses
And sported quite a thousand dresses.
Raleigh, traveller of note,
Spread in the mud his velvet coat.
Henry of the ample waist
In wives had quite a varied taste.
Bruce of Scotland saw a spider
(Had he been drinking ale or cider?)
Victoria was "Not amused"
To smile she steadfastly refused.
Of historical facts these are all I remember
Except we burn Guy Fawkes on the fifth of November.*

And here's another with a New Zealand flavour, that I just must share:

Love in a Shanty

Ere they were wed, he boldly said, he'd very little money.
Love in a cot would be their lot, with roses, cream and honey.
She didn't know the cottage would be just a lean-to shanty.
She didn't know the rations would at times be rather scanty.
She didn't know the cottage would hav eneither bath nor tub.
She didn't know the roses would be just manuka scrub.
She didn't know the cottage had a rough and splintry floor
She didn't know the chickens would be roosting round the door.
She didn't know the fences were all tumbledown and broken.
She didn't know the mortgagee had half the cheques bespoken.
She didn't know the bees would yield her nothing but a sting.
Of cows and mudand morgages she didn't know a thing,
But if she had known all these thing, 'twould just have been the same.
She didn't pine for comfort, nor for riches, nor for fame.
They're just a simple, loving pair, they're neither rich nor clever.
And though the shanty's crumbling fast, their love's as strong as ever.

~ from "From a Pioneer's Pen..." by Susan Dassler.

Susan Dassler married her love, Oscar, in 1806. The moved to a block of land deep in the bush of the King Country at Te Raumoa. The little book put together by her daughter, Grace Shaw contains many of her poems and anecdotes about life growing up in the bush hut, and subsequent years with her eight children, 44 grandchildren, and 99 great-grandchildren! At the time of publication, in 1988, Susan was still going strong at 95 years old. I am trying to find out more, but information is hard to come by.


For more "Poem in your Pocket Day" fun, see Barb's post here and Nadene's post here.

* This poem reminds me of one my daughter, Emily, wrote here.

Book Voucher Competition!

Stephanie is giving away a $20 Book Depository voucher over at The Broadroom. All you need to do to enter is to leave a comment saying which book (other than the Bible or Shakespeare) you would like to take to a desert island.

Stephanie has a great website with plenty of helpful articles on Charlotte Mason's philosophy. Check it out here: The Broadroom.
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