• book lists,  geography,  picture books

    13 Children’s Books About South Africa

    Today I wanted to kick off a new book list series: books about particular countries.

    I asked Raeca which country I should start with and she said South Africa right away. South Africa is a country that is very special to us because it is Ephraim’s birth country. We were fortunate to be able to spend nearly six weeks there at the end of 2014 when we went to adopt him.

    13 Children's Books About South Africa

    Like so many other countries, South Africa is beautiful with a sad history. Children’s books have such a delicate but informative way that they share history and they are great for readers of all ages.

    Picture Books About South Africa

    13 CHILDREN’S BOOKS
    ABOUT SOUTH AFRICA

    This picture book is beautifully written and is a great way to introduce apartheid to children (or even to yourself if you don’t know anything about it).

    The Soccer Fence: A Story of Friendship, Hope, and Apartheid in South Africa

    As a boy, Hector loved playing soccer in his small Johannesburg township. He dreamed of playing on a real pitch with the boys from another part of the city, but apartheid made that impossible. Then, in 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from prison, and apartheid began to crumble. The march toward freedom in South Africa was a slow one, but when the beloved Bafana Bafana national soccer team won the African Cup of Nations, Hector realized that dreams once impossible could now come true. This poignant story of friendship artfully depicts a brief but critical moment in South Africa’s history and the unique role that sports can play in bringing people together.

    My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me

    Full color photographs. “Hello, Stranger-Friend” begins Maya Angelou’s story about Thandi, a South African Ndebele girl, her mischievous brother, her beloved chicken, and the astonishing mural art produced by the women of her tribe. With never-before-seen photographs of the very private Ndebele women and their paintings, this unique book shows the passing of traditions from parent to child and introduces young readers to a new culture through a new friend.

     

    Journey to Jo’burg: A South African Story

    Mma lives and works in Johannesburg, far from the village thirteen-year-old Naledi and her younger brother, Tiro, call home. When their baby sister suddenly becomes very sick, Naledi and Tiro know, deep down, that only one person can save her. Bravely, alone, they set off on a journey to find Mma and bring her back. It isn’t until they reach the city that they come to understand the dangers of their country, and the painful struggle for freedom and dignity that is taking place all around them.

    The Day Gogo Went to Vote

    Illustrated in rich pastels, this child’s-eye view of an important milestone in South African history allows young readers to experience every detail of this eventful day.

    This is another one of our favorites. There are so many different topics we chat about afterwards, including how we call the sport “soccer” but so much of the rest of the world calls it “football”.

    Goal!

    A lyrical, strikingly illustrated story celebrates the unifying power of soccer. In a dusty township in South Africa, Ajani and his friends have earned a brand-new, federation-size soccer ball. They kick. They dribble. They run. They score. These clever boys are football champions! But when a crew of bullies tries to steal their ball, will Ajani and his friends be able to beat them at their own game?

     

    Postcard from South Africa

    Hazel sends her grand daughter a postcard from South Africa, along the way the postcard has its own adventures.

    Desmond and the Very Mean Word

    When Desmond takes his new bicycle out for a ride through his neighborhood, his pride and joy turn to hurt and anger when a group of boys shout a very mean word at him. He first responds by shouting an insult, but soon discovers that fighting back with mean words doesn’t make him feel any better. With the help of kindly Father Trevor, Desmond comes to understand his conflicted feelings and see that all people deserve compassion, whether or not they say they are sorry.

    At the Crossroads

    The fathers of the village are coming home after months away working in the mines. The children wait all night to welcome them home.

     

    Bongani’s Day: From Dawn to Dusk in a South African City

    Bongani’s day begins just like it does for most children: he washes, brushes his teeth and has breakfast; later at school he learns all about the letter C and makes a clown face from a paper plate. But when Bongani gets home in the evening, he puts on his kwaito music videos and dances the kwasa kwasa to the lively sounds and rhythms of South Africa.

    Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

    Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, offers a glimpse into the mind of a great leader, admired across the globe for his dedication to the struggles against apartheid in South Africa. Now the youngest readers can discover the remarkable story of Mandela’s long walk from ordinary village boy, to his dynamic leadership of the African National Congress, to his many long years in prison-and, at last, his freedom and astonishing rise to become the leader of his country.

    Who Was Nelson Mandela?

    As a child he dreamt of changing South Africa; as a man he changed the world. Nelson Mandela spent his life battling apartheid and championing a peaceful revolution. He spent twenty-seven years in prison and emerged as the inspiring leader of the new South Africa. He became the country’s first black president and went on to live his dream of change.

    Living in . . . South Africa

    Dumela! My name is David, and I’m a kid just like you living in South Africa. South Africa is a country filled with stunning cities, amazing animals, and many different cultures—that’s why they call South Africa the rainbow nation! Have you ever wondered what South Africa is like? Come along with me to find out!

    South Africa For Kids: People, Places and Cultures

    Feed your mind with beautiful images of South Africa by reading this big book of information. Here, your child can explore the continent, meet the people, see the sights and then experience the culture too. Learning about the outside world is made much more enjoyable with the excellent combination of pictures and texts.

  • 6 Beautiful Books, Maps and Atlases for kids. A great way to introduce a love for geography in kids.
    book lists,  elementary,  geography,  middle grades

    6 Beautiful Maps, Books and Atlases to Get Kids Interested in Geography

    I love geography and learning about the world and I have a strong desire to pass this interest down to my children.

    I want to go everywhere, see everything and experience it all. While this may not exactly be possible right now I am trying my best to teach them about different countries and cultures while we stay at home.

    One of the ways I love to do this is through beautiful books. In the last few years there have been some gorgeous maps and atlases for kids come onto the scene. And while they may be geared towards the kids I love them just as much, if not, even more, than the kids do.

    The Best Maps, Books and Atlases to Interest Kids in Geography

    6 BEAUTIFUL MAPS, BOOKS
    AND ATLASES FOR KIDS

    Maps

    This book of maps is a visual feast for readers of all ages, with lavishly drawn illustrations from the incomparable Mizielinskis. It features not only borders, cities, rivers, and peaks, but also places of historical and cultural interest, eminent personalities, iconic animals and plants, cultural events, and many more fascinating facts associated with every region of our planet.

    Atlas of Adventures

    Set your spirit of adventure free with this lavishly illustrated trip around the world. Whether you’re visiting the penguins of Antarctica, joining the Carnival in Brazil, or a canoe safari down the Zambezi River, this book brings together more than 100 activities and challenges to inspire armchair adventurers of any age. Find hundreds of things to spot and learn new facts about every destination. With epic adventures from the four corners of the globe and discoveries to be made on your own doorstep, this book will inspire you to set off on your own journey of discovery.

    City Atlas: Travel the World with 30 City Maps

    Take a tour of Toronto, look around Lisbon or hot-foot it to Helsinki with this global adventure in a book! 30 best-loved cities from around the world are brought to life with illustrations by Martin Haake, which show in fabulous detail key landmarks, famous people, iconic buildings and cultural icons for all the family to enjoy. A search-and-find game on every page helps young readers to explore every city and spot the hundreds of details that makes each place unique.

    This Is the World: A Global Treasury

    A compilation of abridged versions of M. Sasek’s most popular children’s travel books. From London to Hong Kong, Sydney to San Francisco, readers will delight in this charming journey through the world’s great cities. With deft strokes of his paintbrush and a witty voice to match, master illustrator and storyteller M. Sasek captured the essence of the world’s major capitals and brought them to life for an entire generation of young readers. Now, more than fifty years later, those same readers are passing these stories down to their children and their children’s children, and Sasek’s This is series has officially reached iconic status.

    The Lonely Planet Kids Amazing World Atlas: Bringing the World to Life

    Finally, Lonely Planet has made the Atlas kids have been waiting for! With 160 pages of illustrated maps, engaging infographics, mind-blowing photography and a large dose of humour, this is the atlas that shows kids what the world is really like. Touching on popular culture, sports and school life, this will bring the world to life for kids.

    Not For Parents: How to be a World Explorer

    How to be a World Explorer will teach you all you need to know about venturing through all the landscapes on Earth. How do you cope with extreme cold? How do you find water in the wild? How do you escape from quicksand? How do you navigate by the stars? How do you build an igloo? How do you fight a bear? It’s all here!

  • Picture Books Set in Paris
    book lists,  geography,  picture books

    Picture Books Set in Paris

    After highschool I lived in England for a few months as an au pair and my biggest regret was not being able to travel very much (I was a broke 18 year old after all). I lived on the south coast of England and was so close to France but never got to travel there so it remains on my someday I’ll visit list.

    Since we aren’t travelling there any time soon we may as well read and learn about it! France, and more specifically, Paris has been our first place we are learning about in geography this year.

    Most of our geography learning is coming through reading a variety of picture books but we will also supplement with some other non-fiction books.

    We’ve been reading picture books set in Paris for a few weeks and wanted to share some of our list.

    Picture Books Set in Paris

    PICTURE BOOKS SET IN PARIS

    This is Paris

    With the same wit and perception that distinguished his charming books on London, New York, and San Francisco, here this famous Czech painter presents his impressions of Paris in This Is Paris, first published in 1959 and now updated for the 21st century. We see its famous buildings, its beautiful gardens, the museums, the sidewalk cafes, and the people who live there — artists, the concierges, the flower girls, and even the thousands of cats. Take a tour along the banks of the Seine, or through the galleries of the Louvre, or to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

    A Lion in Paris

    A Lion in Paris is widely regarded as the most accomplished book by multi-award-winning children’s author/illustrator Beatrice Alemagna. It tells the story of a lion who, bored by his rural life in the savanna, seeks excitement and opportunity in the City of Light. Upon arriving in Paris, the lion is disappointed to find that despite his size, people barely pay attention to him, not even when he lets out a ferocious roar on the busy underground Métro. Revealing the sights and sounds of Paris from Montmartre to the Eiffel Tower, this beautifully illustrated book successfully conveys the experience of being a stranger in a new city and the process of understanding one’s own identity.

    An Armadillo in Paris

    A winsome armadillo from Brazil takes a trip to Paris in this delightful new picture book from Julie Kraulis. Arlo is an armadillo who is always up for adventure. His grandfather, Augustin, loved adventure too. When Arlo was born, Augustin wrote travel journals about his favorite places for Arlo to use when he was hold enough to go exploring on his own. When Arlo reads about Paris and the one the French call La Dame de Fer, or Iron Lady, he decides it’s time to strike out on his first adventure.

    La La Rose

    La La Rose is a pink rabbit. She and her little girl, Clementine, are absolutely inseparable. Until, one day in Luxembourg Gardens, the unthinkable happens: La La Rose gets left behind. Boys toss her in the trashcan, a jogger runs with her, a dog drags her from the fountain…La La Rose keeps getting farther and farther from her Clementine! Will she ever be safe in her arms again?

    Emma in Paris

    Emma in Paris tells the story of Emma’s first months in the City of Light, where she meets her cousin Amélie, joins with her in her circus act, and is befriended by a gentle cat named Edouard. Brave, curious, and determined, Emma is a wonderful heroine with whom to travel into the wide boulevards and secret corners of one of the world’s great cities.

    Pastry School in Paris

    The Zills family is off to Paris to see the sights and take a class at the International Pastry Academy! In class, Matt and Bibi have to measure liquids to make lollipops. It’s hard work, but knowing about different liquid measurements comes in handy when the Inspector General pays a visit while everyone else is out. The twins want to help. Will their knack for baking the best-ever brownies and their knowledge of capacity be enough to save the day?

    Madeline

    Poor Miss Clavel! In “an old house in Paris that was covered with vines,” Miss Clavel oversees the education of 12 little girls, the littlest of whom is the mischievous Madeline. Despite her size, she fearlessly pooh-poohs the tiger in the zoo and frightens Miss Clavel with her adventurous antics. When she awakens the entire house with her plaintive cries in the middle of the night, Doctor Cohn whisks the appendicitis-stricken Madeline off to the hospital where, some two hours later, she awakens to find a scar on her stomach! The scar (not to mention the flowers, toys, and candy given to Madeline by her father) proves quite interesting to the rest of Miss Clavel’s charges when they make a special trip to visit her. Ludwig Bemelmans’s lilting rhymes are music to children’s ears, and the quirky, oddly perfect drawings of the girls in “two straight lines” lend an enticing Parisian flavor to this perennial children’s favorite.

  • Our curriculum plans for homeschooling grade one and preschool.
    art,  curriculum,  geography,  history,  language arts,  math,  music,  preschool,  science,  spanish

    An Overview of Our Homemade Grade 1 & Preschool Curriculums

    Today is our official start to our first year homeschooling!

    I have been waiting for this day for about 3 years and I’m kind of nervous that it will all blow up in our faces, I don’t think it will but that fear is definitely there.

    When I started thinking about what I all wanted the kids to learn this year part of me got overwhelmed and just wanted to buy a full pre-made curriculum. BUT one of the reasons we are homeschooling is to have more flexibility in our days and our learning and I knew that wouldn’t be the best way for us.

    So, I decided to hack together a bit of a curriculum (have you watched the hackschooling Tedx talk, so good!). I definitely have a bit of an unschoolers heart but at the same time I want to be able to have a bit of an idea of what we have learned. Plus, at this point my daughter really want to know when we are “doing school” so we are taking a bit of a Charlotte Mason/Unschooling/not sure what else approach. Over all our curriculum is very literature (and notebooking) heavy, we love books here and it’s the perfect way for us to learn about subjects we are interested in.

    Below I’ve shared an overview of our curriculum and many of these subjects I have full posts on (or will soon) so you can follow those links as well.

    Our curriculum plans for homeschooling grade one and preschool.

    GRADE ONE CURRICULUM

    BIBLE

    We will be following the Ambleside Online weekly Bible reading schedule for Year 1. Later in the year we will also be reading some missionary biographies.

    LANGUAGE ARTS

    READING – Our language arts will mostly be a lot of reading, including me reading aloud, audio books and a lot of reading practice for Raeca (I plan on sharing my list of read alouds for this year soon and you can always find out which books we did read in our monthly books we read posts). I also plan on incorporating poetry through a weekly poetry tea time.

    WRITING – we will do some work in a Handwriting Without Tears workbook to work on technique and then we will be notebooking for most of our other subjects.

    MATH

    We have a grade 1 math workbook we will be going through because my daughter loves workbooks but we will also be incorporating a lot of math into real life. You can read our full math plan here.

    SCIENCE

    I am following the grade 1 science plan from The Well-Trained Mind. For grade 1 that means we will study animals, the human body and plants. Here’s our science overview!

    HISTORY

    For history, every 2-3 months we will learn about a different time periods in history; Ancient Times, Middle Ages, Early Modern Era and Modern Era. We will be reading a number of books in each time period, putting them on a timeline and doing a lot of notebooking. I am working on a full post for this that will be coming soon, for now you can check out our elementary ancient times book list.

    GEOGRAPHY

    Geography was something that I was never really taught in school, it was my personal interest in travel (and reading) that lead me to learn where countries are in the world. My enthusiasm has affected my children because I am always showing them where places are on the map, every time we read or hear about a place.

    We are keeping geography super simple this year by focusing on a different country or city each month and reading lots of books about them. We will also learn about landmarks, some of the different foods, special holidays and more. We have actually started to read/learn about Paris so that’s our first city for the year, I’ll have a list of Paris picture books up on Friday and I hope to have a full post to share about our Paris studies soon!

    ART

    I was tempted to make art very formal and complicated but decided to take it easy, it’s grade 1 after all. I plan on purchasing a good art book where we can talk about a few artists and pieces of artwork and maybe try to copy a few here and there. We also plan on utilizing Art Hub for Kids’ free YouTube videos. I will share a post with more details in a few weeks.

    MUSIC

    For music we are focusing on three things: theory study, composer study and piano. You can see the detailed music post here.



    SPANISH

    Spanish is something we will just be doing a little bit. I’ve been learning it a bit on my own (via Duolingo) and because of that Raeca has been picking up on a few things and wanting to learn more. Our full Spanish plan is here.

    PHYSICAL EDUCATION

    I don’t have a actual plan for physical education but we hope to put Raeca into gymnastics this fall, we have a family swim pass and plan on just generally spending time outdoors playing in nature and riding bikes.

    As for a schedule, my plan right now is to do Bible, language arts and math each day. Then Monday and Wednesday we will also add in science, Tuesday will be geography and Thursday will be history. Friday will be more of a fun day and we will work on music and art and then possibly learn through some computer games or videos. I still don’t have time slots for our Spanish or poetry tea time, I’m going to see after the first week or two where it fits in best.

    Our curriculum plans for homeschooling grade one and preschool.

    PRESCHOOL

    Ephraim is 3 years old and definitely different than Raeca was at 3. He doesn’t like to sit still for long, has little interest in coloring and even less interest in writing, so I don’t have huge expectations for the year but I do have a few goals.

    For most of the reading I do with Raeca he will be sitting with us and probably doing something with his hands like playing with Lego or Playdough. I also want a bit of a learning plan for him so that he can be busy doing something while Rae is working on her work because as a highly sensitive child she needs it to be fairly quiet when she is working.

    Originally my plan was to use one of the free curriculums I found online for preschool but they were all so much more intensive than I wanted. Since he doesn’t enjoy sitting for very long and doesn’t have the hand muscles to write yet, the last thing I want to do is try to do too much with him and turn him off. All I was looking for was something that would tell me one thing to do with him each day and I just couldn’t find something like that, so I did what I always do in that situation: DIY.

    I’ve started to create a nice simple three-year-old curriculum with one thing for us to do together each day. Since I’m making this up for myself I decided to share it for anyone else that wants to use it as well. So far I have the first month planned out but I’m hoping to sit down and plan out till Christmas soon.

    The curriculum (using that term very loosely) that I am creating will follow the goals that I have for Ephraim for this preschool year:

    • know uppercase and lowercase letters
    • count and recognize numbers to 20
    • correctly hold and use scissors
    • be able to correctly count objects
    • draw basic shapes
    • learn nursery rhymes (I’ve been slacking with him!)
    • recognize and print his name
    • begin learning letter sounds

    Check out the free preschool curriculum here! (I am actually kind of tempted to write out our grade 1 curriculum in this way as well, if that would be helpful for you let me know!)

    And that’s the gist of our plans for grade 1 & preschool!
    Here’s to the first day of the school year!

    Linking up with the Homeschool Nook