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For a while now, I’ve been meaning to do a review of these wonderful Smithsonian’s Backyard books that I stumbled across at our library. Time is limited here in chance of books homeschool but another lovely blogger has written about them here so for now I’ll leave you with a link to her review. Enjoy!

Here’s last year’s post for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe coming up on Dec. 12.

This past Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent. In our home, that means it’s time to get out the manger scene. We put everything out, minus the baby Jesus (he’s added after Mass on Christmas Eve). At a local used book sale this year, I picked up book that I hoped would be a nice addition to our Advent and Christmas collection.

Joanna Cole has written a beautiful story explaining how St. Francis started the first creche. His was a live one and done in a time when Christmas wasn’t a big celebration as it is now.

By Christmas Eve, word had spread that something wonderful was going to happen on a wooded hill outside the town, and people came from all around. The light from their torches flickered through the trees as they climbed the hillside paths. Their excited voices echoed through the woods.
When they arrived at the spot Francis had chosen, a shout of joy went up from the crowd. Never had the poor farmers of Greccio imagined that they would look upon the holy scene they had heard about since childhood. There was the infant Jesus, lying in a manger, with Mary and Joseph watching over him, and a donkey and an ox standing near.

Michele Lemieux’s illustrations complete the story and some of the pages remind me of Celtic Illuminations. The story is definitely for ages 4 and up, as there are a couple paragraphs on each page. It would also be appropriate to read around St. Francis’ feast day in October.

Noah on the Brain

I have a 2 year old.  Which means I am often called upon to read books over and over and over and over and…you get the idea.  It means that we go through waves of obsessions with books then suddenly, they will be over and we’re on to something else.  For instance, today I found myself making up a new song, to the words of Marvin K. Mooney Will you Please Go Now? And the best part was that my 2 year old was no where around, he was in fact napping.  Which proves to you that I’ve been reading that book over and over and over…

So I’m not too fond of my 2 year old’s current book obsession.  However, there’s one book that he has consistently enjoyed since about 8 months, asking for it a few times a week.  It’s a board book and I haven’t reviewed a board book in a while, so I thought it was time.

No, No Noah! is a fun board book about a monkey who is very reluctant to join Noah and the other animals on the ark.  He is worried that there won’t be trees to swing from and that he has to leave behind his home.  He finally jumps aboard and finds that life is ok, and eventually God puts an end to the flood.

The story is written as a poem, filled with rhyming words and a good flow to the phrases.  While it’s a toddler book, I found myself often being thankful for the time to sit and read this to my son as it was a good reminder to me.  Noah says,

“Monkey, you must trust the Lord.”

And the message at the end…

When your day brings something new,
Think of Noah’s floating zoo.
Pray like Monkey swinging low,
God stays with you as you go!”

Author: Dandi Daley Mackall

My kids and I have been spending a week delving into the early years of the church and how Jesus’ message spread from the disciples out into the world.  We are in between our history books, so I thought it would be a good time to take a break to really focus on the early church.  For our read aloud this week, I chose a book by Mary Fabyan Windeatt. She is the author of countless children’s book and coloring books about saints, in the series called Stories of the Saints for Young People ages 10 to 100.  For this week, we are reading St. Paul the Apostle:  The Story of the Apostle to the Gentiles. These are chapter books that are definitely for older children or for a family read aloud.  Of the chapter books I’ve read to the kids, this one is likely one of the more difficult ones.  The vocabulary and sentence structure is definitely more advanced than most of the books we’ve read with the kids.  However, we are all enjoying it very much.  We stop to talk about things along the way of course and it helps that the subject matter is somewhat familiar to them and they already knew a bit about St. Paul from previous Bible readings.  The story begins with Paul’s (rather Saul at that time) conversion story and ends with his death.

As we are reading through this, we are making a map of each missionary journey, using this book as a guide.  It’s a Reader’s Digest book and serves as a good resource for me to read as I’m reading along with the kids.  There are a lot of pictures and photographs that illustrate places that Paul stopped at along the way.

If you need a coloring page of St. Paul, you can check out Charlotte’s list, just scroll down, they are listed alphabetically.  My kids always listen much better to stories when they have something to color or draw while listening!

On to Brazil

I hope to do more blog entries that are not about our country study, but for now it seems to be when I have the time we are in the midst of geography study and it’s fresh on my mind.  You can read my previous geography entries here for Argentina and here for the spine we are using.

So if you’re looking to get a little introduction to Brazil, here are some books you might want to check out.  Very likely that you’re library has them, so be sure to check there first.  I always have to put a plug for our great libraries.  They get so little funding but provide so much to the community!

One thing about Brazil is that it provides a good jumping off point if you want to learn about rain forests.  We kept it mostly focused on the country for now but I’m sure we’ll make our way back to a rain forest study sometime.

Keeping in mind that there are plenty of educational guides simply about Brazil aimed at older children, I was searching for books that would be for 3rd grade and under, as read-alouds.

Count Your Way Through Brazil written by Jim Haskins and Kathleen Benson is a fun book that gives an introduction to 10 significant characteristics of Brazil.  On each page, it introduces the Portuguese number and explains the topic.  Some of the explanations are rather lengthy, so for a few of them I just picked out the main points to highlight with my kids.  They had fun trying to pronounce the numbers in Portuguese (there’s a pronunciation guide for each one).  The book covers the beginnings of Brazil, products that come from Brazil, foods, national pastimes, music, animals, ethnic groups, and more.

The next one is a kind of an alphabet book, and reminded me of Jerry Pallotta’s alphabet booksB is for Brazil by Maria de Fatima Campos.  This book is similar to the one above, but instead of using numbers it uses letters to teach us 26 things about Brazil.  For instance, R is for rubber which is made from the liquid in the rubber tree and is an export of Brazil.  C is for Carnival, the huge celebration before the start of Lent.  The pictures throughout are actual photographs, which I appreciate for a book about a specific country.

Yet another alphabet type book, A to Z Brazil by Justine and Ron Fontes uses the alphabet to give us 26 categories of information.  F is for food, then the page has the description of a popular Brazilian food.  N is for Nation which includes a full page map showing where Brazil is located in South America, and a large picture of the Brazilian flag.  This book is a good intermediate country book when children are too young to glean much from a long country guide.  Again, the pictures are actual photographs, so it’s nice just to page through it with your child, even if you don’t read every page.

The next three books are literature suggestions that go with Brazil.  Not specifically giving facts about the country but good stories nonetheless.

First is a trickster tale from Brazil called The Dancing Turtle, by Pleasant DeSpain.  A turtle is captured by a native Brazilian family and the father puts him in a cage to be cooked in soup the next day.  His children are asked to watch over him.  Turtle tricks the kids into setting him free.  My 5 year old especially enjoyed this story and loved to imagine this turtle dancing his way out of danger.

The Sea Serpent’s Daughter tells a Brazilian legend about how day and night came to be created.  In this creation story the sea serpents daughter arrives on land, to a village and realizes that so much day-light is too much for her.  So the villagers head out to collect some darkness from the depths of the sea, and so it continues until there is finally a balance of daylight and darkness.

The last literature selection is more specficially about the Amazon Rain Forest.  The Great Kapok Tree tells about a man who begins to cut down a tree in the rainforest.  He ends up falling asleep at the base of the Kapok tree and begins to dream.  In his dream, animals and people of the rain forest visit him and tell him the importance of this tree to their lives.  When he awakes, will he continue to cut down the tree or will he be changed?  I’ll let you and your kids find out!

Finally, if you’re looking for a saint to study with Brazil, check out a previous post of mine, in the Holy Friends book you can find the story of St. Pauline of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus, Brazil’s first saint.

So there it is, Brazil by books!  Please leave a comment if you have other literature suggestions for Brazil.

The first stop in our trip around the world, is Argentina.  We are not doing an in depth study, as my children are still young.  My goal is just to give them an idea of how people live around the world, show them pictures of places in other countries and improve their geography skills.  So I put together a book list for our reading about Argentina this week.  I’m sure there are others, but for now this is what I could glean from the library at short notice!  There are also plenty of country guides for older children doing more in depth study, but the ones I am highlighting are for younger children.

The first book, I don’t have a picture of, but it is Countries of the World: Argentina by Nicole Frank.  This one is more text-bookish, and I wouldn’t suggest reading it aloud to your children unless they are having a hard time sleeping!  But it’s a great starting place for pictures, just to page through and give kids some good images from the country.  It’s going to have a good overview of climate, geography, government, etc.

The next book, I have not yet read, but it will be on my 7 yo’s reading list.  It’s a chapter book, called Chucaro:  Wild Pony of the Pampa and is written by Francis Kalnay.  It’s also a Newbury Honor book.  The story is about a boy who is determined to own a pony from the pampa, grasslands in Argentina.

The next story, which we have read is Gauchada by C. Drew Lamm. It is about the Argentinian expression, “to make a gauchada” which means “to do something kind, something with love, without expecting anything in return.” This is a simple picture book with bold illustrations about a necklace that is carved by a cowboy, or gaucho and is given to many people along the way. The story also uses other words unique to Argentina that are sprinkled throughout the story, and if you don’t know what they mean there’s explanations at the beginning of the story.

So there are a few books to get your started with your Argentina study. If you would like to do a full study, Homeschool Creations has some lesson plans and printables to get you started.

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