Friday, October 19, 2012

Fairy Tales Unit Study

Fairy Tales

We've been doing a fun lit unit on fairy tales at home.  There are so many wonderful books out there that it's hard to narrow the list, but these are the ones that we've enjoyed most recently.  Also, I've easily found printable activities online that fit this unit nicely.  It can be adapted to many grade levels without much work - and it's a great multilevel unit if you're looking for a way to simplify.

This list is for elementary grades... stay tuned for my upcoming list of teen resources.

Collections (a great jumping off point)
The Random House Book of Fairy Tales (my favorite) by Ehrlich/Goode
Classic Fairy Tales by Scott Gustafson
The Kingfisher Book of Fairy Tales by Vivian French (hard to find, but I love the illustrations)

Activities and Study Guides
Literature Pockets: Folk and Fairy Tales (K-1)
Literature Pockets: Folk and Fairy Tales (2-3)
Fables, Myths and Fairy Tales Writing Lessons by IEW
Fairy Tales Comprehension Guide by Veritas Press
Imitation in Writing - Fairy Tales by Logos Press

Websites and Printables
Cinderella Stories (K-2)
Cinderella Stories from Around the World - extensive list!
Graphic Organizers - great for comparing stories, story maps, etc.
Fairy Tale Unit Guide
K-2 fairy tale lessons and printables
Unit for grades 3-5
Scholastic site - nice background information. Click on the Teacher's Guide icon.

We're doing a 6-week unit, and studying a different story every week.  We're reading multiple versions of the same story, and doing some compare/contrast activities using the printables I linked above.  One week is all about Fractured Fairy Tales (The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka is a fun collection), and one week is dedicated to reading the original story contrasted with one told from a different narrator's point of view (I highly recommend The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, also by Scieszka).  In the final week we'll use a blank story map to plan out our own version of a standard fairy tale, and spend the week drafting and polishing our story.

Here's a list of some of my favorite picture books in this category (not linked for purchase - they are readily available at most libraries):

The Rough-Face Girl by Rafe Martin & David Shannon
The Persian Cinderella by Shirley Climo & Robert Florczak
Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China retold by Ai-Ling Louie, illustrated by Ed Young
Cinderella by Barbara McClintock
Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young (Caldecott Medal winner)
Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky (Caldecott Medal winner)
Rapunzel by Alix Berenzy
Little Red Riding Hood by Jerry Pinkney
Honestly! Red Riding Hood Was Rotten!... by Trisha Speed Shaskin and Gerald Guerlais
Beauty and the Beast by Marianna Mayer and Mercer Mayer
Beauty and the Beast by Jan Brett

Series books for kids who love fairy tales:
The Sisters Grimm
Tales of the Frog Princess by E.D. Baker
Princess Academy books by Shannon Hale

Happy reading!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Curriculum Review: Foundations in Personal Finance

One of our summer goals was to complete the Foundations in Personal Finance homeschool curriculum by Dave Ramsey.  We finished the last chapter today and I can honestly say that we both learned so much!

At $89.95, it's an excellent deal, as it will no doubt save you thousands of dollars down the road if you actually apply the principles learned in the lessons.  It's also priced in the same range as many other DVD-based courses, and much cheaper than most online classes for high schoolers.  The kit comes with the DVD set (14+ hours of instruction) and a consumable workbook.  Dave's style is light and accessible, with a "good ol' boy" delivery, but the message is direct.  The aim of the course is to help the student make smart money decisions from the beginning by understanding the way money works.  He drills the anti-debt message throughout each lesson, but does so in an engaging way and makes the sometimes difficult concepts easy to understand.

I highly recommend this course as an elective for high schoolers (1/2 credit).  Buy an extra workbook so Mom can participate, too!

Book reviews: more on homeschooling high school

The last time I posted about homeschooling high school was a year ago - my older daughter was 13 and getting ready for 8th grade.  We were in the "exploratory phase"... trying to figure out if we could pull off high school at home.  Fast forward one year, and our high school journey is days away from officially beginning.  Not panicking.

Two books have rocked my world this spring.  First, I read, What Colleges Don't Tell You (And Other Parents Don't Want You To Know) by Elizabeth Wissner-Gross.  While the book is written for older high schoolers and their parents - those closer to the college acceptance maze - most of the advice is geared to those who got themselves in gear much earlier on.  I was so glad to be reading this book before high school even started.  Wissner-Gross's advice is amazing.  She's a professional "packager" of high school students, and shares her extensive experience with her readers.  It's practical, logical, and although lofty at times, completely do-able.  You must read this book if you are serious about getting your child into the college of their choice.

The second book, What High Schools Don't Tell You (And Other Parents Don't Want You To Know) was written in response to the first book.  The subtitle of the books is "Create a Long-Term Plan for Your 7th to 10th Grader for Getting into the Top Colleges" and, as promised, it gives the reader baby steps to follow in order to set your student up for a top-shelf admission package.  Don't be dismayed by the title; you don't have to have set your eyes on the Ivy League for this book to be meaningful.  Following the steps proposed by Wissner-Gross will make any student with good grades (not perfect - good) and decent test scores more appealing to selective schools.

While these books were not written specifically for homeschoolers (in fact, she doesn't even mention homeschooling anywhere within either book) they will be invaluable to you as a homeschooling parent.  We play the roles of teacher, coach, guidance counselor and parent (plus many others too diverse to name!) so we must be informed of the rigors of the college admission process.  It's our job.  What High Schools Don't Tell You will be $15 well spent.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The HSL is back, ya'll!

I'm revamping the blog... and switching the focus (and moving South... see "ya'll" reference above).

Are we still all about books?  YES.
Am I still dedicated to helping friends (both live and virtual) homeschool their people?  YES.

So, whatup?

As I lamented in an earlier post, I no longer work at a big-box book retailer in all my spare time (RIP, Borders).  Not having access to the pre-pub copies of new books and the latest releases makes it hard to talk about the up-and-coming books in children's and YA.  So, this blog is going to be all about lists.  Subject lists.  Really good, tried and true, sometimes new, always high-quality books that fit into your homeschool.  I'm really, really good at lists.  Trust me.

My goal is to publish a new book list once a week.  Some will be general, some will be subject specific, or cover a unique time period.  If you need reading advice for your homeschooler, contact me.  Reply here, shoot me an email, tweet me.  I'll get on it as quickly as I can.  This is my favorite part of being a librarian.

Happy reading!