Homeschool Discoveries

Sharing a few things I've discovered along the way…

D is for Differences March 14, 2012

Filed under: Creativity — kirstenjoyhill @ 4:38 pm

There’s no doubt that each kid is a unique individual.  I’m sure that this will be true even among my three boys, but I see this difference so strikingly between my daughter (Miss M — she will be eight in May) and my oldest son (Mr E, turning five later this month).

Miss M had a “brainstorming” sort of assignment in her Spectrum Writing workbook last week.  First she needed to make a list of topics she is interested in and knows something about.  Then she picked one of those topics and listed everything she knows about that topic, as well as a list of questions she would like to know the the answers to related to that topic (yes, that’s a grammatically awkward sentence, I know).

Mr. E heard Miss M and I working on this (Miss M talked me into being her scribe so we could get her ideas on paper more quickly).  He wanted to do the same thing.

Check out Miss M’s list of things she knows something about/is interested in:

  • Horses
  • Tea Parties
  • Art
  • Book and Reading
  • Stories about Pets
  • Sea Horses (her “expert day” topic at co-op last year!)
  • Cooking
  • Bunnies
  • Tennis
  • Dancing

Now check out Mr. E’s list:

  • Fighting
  • “The Avengers” Super Heroes
  • Star Wars
  • The Heart of the Shield (a secret weapon from a series of stories about knights)
  • Tree man, an action figure (hmmm…I think he made this one up!)
  • Clone Troopers and Storm Troopers (yep, more Star Wars)
  • Guns

These lists could hardly be more different, huh?

I think I got even more insight into my two oldest kids in the next step of the process.  Miss M picked “bunnies” for her next step and we wrote out a nice list of facts she knows about bunnies, as well as some good questions.  Mr E. didn’t actually want to do exactly what Miss M was doing for his assignment.  He wanted to give me a list of questions and topics — things he is wondering about or wants to know about.  It’s a great list!

  • “The time of history” (he clarified that this is “stuff from a long time ago”)
  • “Roman people in Italy” (Fascinating…not sure if this was a random guess on his part or he remembers us reading about the Roman Empire months ago and where it was located)
  • People that knights fought in the time of knights
  • What were the weapons of people that knights fought?
  • How are crayons made?
  • How are crowns with jewels made?
  • Why do we have bones in our bodies?
  • Why do we have joints in our body? (I pointed out that we’ve been talking about bones and joints in science, but he said his “why” questions had not been answered yet)

He also told me he wants to build a robot, made a real model airplane (not one made out of paper), a model airplane “launcher”, and his own Star Wars movie.

Fun stuff, and fun questions! So, I thought I would ask Miss M a question that might lead her to make a list like Mr. E gave me.  Her response was that she wanted to learn more about horses (that’s her “expert day” topic for our co-op this year), and that she just wanted to read lots of books.

I pressed her a little bit, and she said yes, she did want to do more art projects, and learn history as we read through our history curriculum and learn how to play tennis through the park tennis program again this summer…but what she really wants to do with “extra” time is immerse herself in all kinds of stories.   She wants to read stories, write stories and “play” the stories.  I was the exact same way at her age!  I had insatiable curiosity about things like science and computers as I got older, but when I was a second grader…I was cleaning the library out of stories from my favorite authors and series too.

I just love the different ways that God has created my kids and the differences in their interests…it makes our home an even more lively and exciting place!

I’m linking up with:


10 Things to Do With Kids’ Artwork March 13, 2012

Filed under: Getting Organized — kirstenjoyhill @ 5:00 am
Tags: ,

I’m often amazed by how many items made of paper my kids produce every week.   Whether it is schoolwork, drawings, paintings, sticker collages or more elaborate art work, it can be a big chore to deal with all of it.  Here are few ways that we try and tame our “paper tiger” without just throwing all our kids’ hard work in the trash can.

1. Have a designated spot to put it (and sort through that spot regularly).  Here’s our current “done bin” as the kids call it…hmmm…I think it’s time for a clean out! 🙂 Unless something is obviously trash or someone wants to display it right away, most paper items in our house go here first.   Maybe it’s procrastination, but I like not making each and every clean up time a battle over what to save or toss.

2. Display it.  This could be a Top Ten list of its own, and more.  A search for “display kids art” on Pinterest  results in many, many creative ideas. We currently have a bulletin board in the school room.  The kids can pin any of their work to the board, but they either need to take something down of their own or get permission from a sibling to take something down before a new item can be added.   For quite a while I had a special display area in the dining room that I stocked with pictures. I took an old poster frame, added black posterboard to the back, then put 4 of my favorite pieces of artwork in the frame.  I hope to get this back up soon, as it was a great decoration for the dining room.

3. Make an artwork binder.  Maybe this is where  I am being a little bit lazy, but I have been letting Mr E in particular save almost any flat 8.5 x 11 piece of paper that he wants to save in a binder.  Here’s how this got started.  He and Mr. K love stickers.  They love to just sit and put stickers on paper.  That’s art to them, I guess.  It just killed me to be spending money on stickers and then throwing them away so fast once they were put on paper.  Enter the artwork binder! I punch holes in the paper, and many, many sheets of paper fit in each binder.  And, you know what? The boys actually sit and look at these two (so far) binders and enjoy looking at sticker pages and various drawings.  They tell each other stories based on what they see.  The items in these binders may not be “keep forever” sort of things, but it seems to be something they enjoy greatly for now!

4. Scan it.  What about the “good stuff”?  Well, if it is flat and standard size, I often scan it.  This gives us a lot of versatility of what to do with it in the future!

5. Photograph it.  Items that are too big to scan, like this “Happy Halloween” banner, or 3-Dimensional items can be saved for posterity in this way.

6. Save a few items for the “permanent collection”.  I ask Mr. E and Miss M to choose 5-10 pieces of 2-D art to save each year (or I may pick a few favorites myself).  I may or may not have scanned the items first, but after a few favorite items are no longer being displayed, I pack up these items in a large plastic bag.  I’m not sure if we’ll ever do anything with these, but they don’t take up a lot of space, and I think my kids may at some point fondly look back on these items. Or maybe I’ll just be fondly looking back at them when they are grown.  🙂

7. Make a photo book from scanned or photographed art.  I got this idea from Pinterest and I have followed through on actually doing it yet…but wouldn’t this be a fun thing to have on our bookshelf?

8. Use photos or scanned files to make calendars or other gifts. This has become an annual tradition for us.  Grandparents love to get a new calendar every year decorated with kids’ artwork!  Photo sites like VistaPrint, Shutterfly and Snapfish have dozens of “photo gift” options and often run really great sales.  Why not make a mug, keychain or notecards decorated with your kids’ best artwork to give as gifts?

9. Re-purpose it.  Once you’ve scanned the artwork you want to scan, and you’ve saved the cream of the crop to store for the future, turn some of the originals into something else?  Large pieces of art could become wrapping paper.  Smaller items could become part of a greeting card.  Or if you want to really get crafty, check out this idea for re-purposing your toddler’s scribbles!

10. Give it away.  Grandmas seem to love having their grandkids’ art to decorate the fridge.  You could go one step beyond just giving it to Grandma by thinking of other distant relatives who might like getting a drawing in the mail, or even giving pictures to older friends and neighbors who might find that a child’s art would really brighten their day.

Do you have any other great ideas for dealing with kids’ art? I would love to hear them!

I’m linking up with Top Ten Tuesday @ Many Little Blessings!

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings


“It’s Okay Mom!” March 12, 2012

Filed under: Weekly Highlights — kirstenjoyhill @ 9:05 am

Miss M was taking a break from school work on Friday to make her birthday list. She’s planning ahead — her birthday isn’t until late May.  Her brothers decided it was time to make a K sandwich on E and M.  🙂  Just as I was about to shoo the boys away and tell them to leave their sister alone, Miss M tells me, “It’s okay, Mom.  Let them stay there for a minute.”

Eventually it turned into them all giggling on the floor together.   For as many chaotic moments as we have had lately and the number of times that Miss M is running away screaming as the boys forget (again) that they may not point even pretend-finger-guns at their sister if she doesn’t want to play “shoot em up games”, I love to see the kids loving one another and having fun together.

And I even turned the birthday-list-making into an opportunity for spelling improvement once she had filled up a whole page of ideas, many of which needed some “assistance” in the spelling department. 🙂

I’m linking up with:

Moments to Remember and You Don’t See That in Public School!


Get Ready for Pi Day! March 11, 2012

Filed under: Holidays — kirstenjoyhill @ 4:04 pm
Tags: , ,

I know there are lots, and lots of random holidays out there.  But Pi Day might be one of my most favorite!

Pi day is March 14th.  (Get it? 3-14?).  The past few years we have celebrated Pi day just by eating pie.  I serve something pie-like for dinner (like taco pie, shepherd’s pie, or a spinach pie…pizza would work too!), and, of course, a sweet pie for dessert.

This year we’re going to incorporate it into our homeschool day.

While we have done some nifty geometry lessons with RightStart math level C, we haven’t done anything with circles yet.  So one of the first things we’ll do is talk about measurement terms for circles (radius, diameter and circumference). Then we’ll try a “finding pi” activity. I thought this lesson plan did a nice job of explaining how it might be done.  Even though the grade level listed is significantly higher than that of my kids, I think at least Miss M will be able to “get it.” had another interesting “finding pi” activity, but I think we might save that one for another year.

I have requested a few Pi-themed books from the library.  I don’t know if I made my requests in time, but I am especially hoping that “Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi” arrives on the reserve shelf by Wednesday.

Since my kids love crafts, we might need to make some circular or pi-themed crafts.  I like the suggestions at Helping Little Hands, which includes some paper plate crafts and a pi-themed patterning worksheet!

I think we’ll also talk just a bit about the history of Pi.  Check out this page from the organization that founded pi day for a quick read on the history of Pi.

Until I saw this pin on Pinterest, I had never thought about incorporating Pirates (or would it be pi-rates?) into Pi Day, but I know that’s something Mr. E and Mr. K would love! Maybe we’ll read some pirate-themed books or do some pirate themed crafts or printables. (Photo Source: via Kirsten on Pinterest)

A fun Pi Day would definitely not be complete without some pie, of course (and perhaps some other circular foods?).  We’ll have Taco pie for dinner with Blueberry-Cherry Pie for dessert.  Maybe pancakes for breakfast and pizza for lunch? And don’t forget pi-neapple for snack.  🙂

If your are looking for even more amazing Pi Day ideas, check out my Pi Day board on Pinterest!

Are you going to celebrate Pi Day this year? Do you have any other fun Pi Day ideas?


Collage Friday: When Life Gives You Broken Eggs… March 9, 2012

Filed under: Weekly Highlights — kirstenjoyhill @ 10:36 pm
Tags: , ,

Have you read the story or seen the episode of Thomas and Friends where Thomas drives too fast and breaks the farmer’s eggs? At the end of the story Sir Topham Hatt tells Thomas that all is well because he will eat scrambled eggs for breakfast (or was it omelets?).  I wonder if Sir Hatt got lots of dirt and straw in his breakfast.  I know that the floor in front of my fridge is not nearly clean enough to make breakfast from. 

Yes, Mr. K was feeling quite mischievous this past week.  The eggs on the floor were a bit of a “fail” on my part.  It happened in the evening and I thought both boys were upstairs with Tony.  I was relaxing on the couch, just me Facebook and baby J.  Eventually I became aware of a strange noise coming from the back of the kitchen (where our fridge and freezer “live”).  With dread, I made my way there and found Mr  K and the dozen or so broken eggs (a carton not in the picture was already completely empty).  He smiles and says to me. “I say YES to eggs!”

You may notice in the picture that several of the eggs are perfectly broken, as if they were ready for the frying pan — so he was clearly very purposeful about what he was doing.  And, believe it or not, this was only one of several mischievous acts on the part of Mr K this week.  I’m still trying to decide if he is bored, testing the boundaries or going through some other new developmental phase.  But keeping up with Mr K definitely took more time than usual this week.

We did manage to have some fun and learning this week amidst the extra chaos:

1. Miss M had a really great collage idea that she executed almost entirely on her own.  She found a picture of a doll in an old Christmas toy catalog we had in our stack of magazines.  She then sought out similarly sized pictures furniture, food and even a dog.  Then she asked me if I could “use google to find her a blank room”.  Smart idea on her part! I found an appropriate looking picture of an empty room and she made her work of art!


2.  The boys did water colors while Miss M did her collage.  Mr. E says that his work is entitled “Millennium Falcon and Storm Troopers.”  🙂 This boy always has Star Wars on the brain these days.


3. Mr E and Mr K with a new-to-us dinosaur game passed along to us by our neighbors.  It’s kind of like “Operation” for dinosaur bones…and it even relates to what we’ve been talking about in science, since we have been discussing human and animal skeletons!


4.  Miss M decided that Mr K needed some “tot school” this week.  So, to be honest, I haven’t been doing a lot in terms of working on numbers, letters and so on with Mr K.  He isn’t chomping at the bit to learn this stuff most of the time, he only just turned three, and I have other priorities for him like getting to the potty on his own more frequently and not causing chaos everywhere he goes!  But he seemed to enjoy doing a letter coloring page and “letter hunt” with Miss M while she read him an appropriately themed story that she picked out.  Hmmm…maybe we are on to something here!


5,  Oh, column addition…both teacher and student wished we never knew you.  We only made it through about two and a half RightStart math lessons this week.  We’ve made the big shift in gears away from geometry.   Miss M struggled with not making small mistakes in the column addition problems, which led to answers I could see were so close, but not totally correct.  It was discouraging for her to have to retrace her steps to find her mistakes and she couldn’t always find them.  Attitudes may have been deteriorating on both of our parts by the end of the week.  I am glad to see that after the lesson that is currently half-finished we switch gears again to subtraction for a bit.  Maybe that will go better for us!


6.  Miss M working on her math while baby J keeps her company (I had been sitting in between them, and when I got up I thought they looked so cute together!).


7. Family science night around the iPad, while daddy shows the kids pictures of animal skeletons to discuss similarities and differences between various vertebrates.


8. Snack and a history lesson.  We don’t read over a meal or snack very often…because, to be honest, I am usually too hungry to read.  But I wanted to read a long lesson from MOH III on Leonardo DaVinci today, and some cinnamon/sugar biscuits seemed like a nice diversion.


9. A complicated afternoon play-date situation didn’t quite work out as we had planned it, but the end result was great — we ended up with five kids around the table building with toothpicks and marshmallows (and only a reasonable number of marshmallows were eaten, I think!) provided by a friend who hadn’t originally planned on staying to play at our house.


I’m hoping for a relaxing, not too chaotic weekend and looking ahead to a busy week next week that includes a water-main shutoff on Monday, Pi day on Wednesday, a woodwinds class for Miss M on Thursday and maybe some St. Patrick’s Day activities thrown in for good measure. Oh, and we were invited to go roller skating too.  We’ll see if we’re ready for all of that!

I’m linking up with Collage Friday @ Homegrown Learners and the Weekly Wrap-Up @ Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers!

PhotobucketWeird Unsocialized Homeschoolers


Book Discoveries this Week: Ballerino Nate and other picture books March 8, 2012

Filed under: Books — kirstenjoyhill @ 9:34 pm
Tags: ,

A few weeks ago at a friend’s house, Mr E was a ballerino.  Luckily for his future teenage self, I won’t post the pictures here as he might not appreciate them!  Mr. E and his friend decided that since Mr E is a boy, he must be a “ballerino” instead of a “ballerina” when he danced in his friend’s tutu.  I thought this was a very clever word choice on the part of these 4-year-olds.

Then, much to my surprise, I ran across Ballerino Nate by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley while reading this post I found via Pinterest.  Of course, I had to request it right away from our library!

Ballerino Nate is a very sweet story about a boy who wants to dance.  But can he, a boy, learn ballet? And will he have to wear a pink outfit in order to do it?  Nate’s older brother tries to convince him at every turn that dancing is for girls.  Even all the other kids in his first ballet class are girls.  But, as you might guess by the title, Nate’s parents help him to see that these stereotypes about ballet aren’t so true after all.

While I don’t think Mr. E is really all that interested in being a ballet dancer (I think he dressed up in ballet garb mostly to be a good friend), I do think most kids need reminders every now and then that activities, interests and careers need not be limited by gender. Mr. E thought it was a “nice story”, and it was certainly a change of pace from most of the books he selects for himself.

Here’s a few quick takes on some other picture books we’ve enjoyed recently:

Mary Had a Little Lamp by Jack Lechner features illustrations by Bob Staake, who also wrote and illustrated Donut Chef (a book we enjoyed a few weeks ago).  The style is so similar that Mr. K kept asking me if the Donut Chef was in this book too! Imagine what might happen if Mary brought a lamp everywhere instead of a Lamb, and you get the concept of this book.  Simple but funny, and we read it many times over the past two weeks.

I really enjoyed the illustrations in Tugga-Tugga Tugboat by Kevin Lewis, with Illustrations by Daniel Kirk.  This sparked a really great discussion with the boys about tugboats.  Are they real? Can a little boat really pull a big ship? Why do they do that?  We watched a few videos on youtube about tugboats after reading this book!

Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman is a short, silly little story that had us laughing as chickens solve problems big and small on the farm.  There are lots of fun little details to see if you take the time to look at what all the chickens are doing.

Finally, this week I actually remembered to read a book to Baby J.  He is on my lap or eating while I read for many, many books every day.  But he is getting to be a bigger baby now…my little guy is not just a newborn bump on a log any more.  🙂  I got out one of my favorite Usborne board books to enjoy with him: “That’s Not My Puppy“.  I totally love the “That’s not my…” series.  They all have the same predictable format, but they are super cute and each page has a fun texture.  Baby J enjoyed his first just-for-him story time experience too.  He was entertained with grabbing at all the textures in the book for quite a long time!


I’m linking up with Read Aloud Thursday @ Hope is the Word!


C is for Cursive March 7, 2012

Filed under: Curriculum — kirstenjoyhill @ 8:07 am
Tags: ,

Miss M asked to start learning cursive last year as a first grader.  Considering that for most of the previous two years she complained about having to write almost anything, this really took me by surprise.  I am one of those adults who never writes in “pure” cursive — I hated cursive penmanship practice in grade school, and my current handwriting is my own blend of printing and cursive (though I think it leans more to the “printing” side of things). I was perfectly willing to let Miss M wait until at least third grade to learn cursive, if not later.

Not wanting to miss this moment of her interest, however, I bought her “A Reason for Handwriting” book C a little over a year ago.  She spent last spring dabbling in learning her cursive letters.  The first section of the book is dedicated to first practicing each individual letter, adding in a few simple words once enough letters are learned.  After a break for the summer, I reviewed with Miss M the letters she had learned the previous spring, and she finished learning the rest of the alphabet.

Then the real fun begins.  🙂 The second section of the book contains 32 weeks of lessons, each featuring a Bible verse. Days 1 through 3 of each week’s lesson contain individual practice words from the verse.  Day 4 is tracing the verse, while Day 5 is writing the verse out on a piece of handwriting paper with a decorative border (the border paper is provided in the back of the workbook). I assign Miss M cursive practice every day, and occasionally I have her “double up” somewhere in days 1 through 3 or skip the tracing day if we don’t have five full/regular school days in a particular week.

While Miss M still usually chooses to print in the rest of her school work, I can really see her cursive improving.  It will be better than mine pretty soon!

I’m linking up with:



Top Ten/Tech Tuesday: We love free Audiobooks! March 6, 2012

Filed under: Books,Technology — kirstenjoyhill @ 1:21 pm
Tags: , , ,

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

(I’m linking up with TWO linky parties today…if you just want my “top ten list” of free audiobooks we’ve enjoyed, just look to the bottom of the post!)

Audiobooks are a great way to pass the time or multitask. While our audiobook listening has diminished somewhat ever since Miss M learned to read on her own, we are still sure to stock up our Mp3 player with books before a long trip.  Miss M still also occasionally likes to listen to audiobooks while folding her laundry or just to relax. When Miss M was in Kindergarten and 1st grade, her attention span was much longer than her ability to read on her own, so she listened to several long audiobooks those two years!

The boys haven’t been big fans of audiobook listening so far, but I would like to try again to find some books they might enjoy (it’s been a while since we tried listening to one all together).  They are each getting a bit older and Mr. E in particular is getting to that same point of having a bit longer attention span to perhaps enjoy a longer audiobook.

While many audiobooks are available for purchase on sites like amazon, the price for an audiobook is often higher than the price for a regular book! Of course libraries have offered books on cassette tape or CD for years, but we (as I am sure is true of many families these days) have no convenient devices for playing cassette tapes, and even CD listening is more of a challenge than it used to be — most of our CD listening devices have broken and we haven’t replaced them!

Luckily we’ve found two great ways to get MP3 format audiobooks for free — our library and websites offering public domain audiobooks.

Most the audiobooks we’ve listened to have come from, a site dedicated to organizing volunteers to make recordings of books in the public domain.  The recordings are then available as free downloads.  Librivox is a great site, but can be challenging to browse if you don’t have something specific in mind.  I just realized recently that lists most (or maybe all?) of Librivox’s audiobooks as well as a few others in a much easier-to-browse format. also gives links to ebooks in various formats, just in case you decide you would rather read it yourself instead of listening. Ipad/Iphone apps are available to help interface with these free audibooks as well, but to be honest I haven’t tried any of them yet, since we don’t find the iPad to be our preferred device for audiobook listening.

Our library system also offers free audiobook downloads.  I’m guessing that this service is offered by many libraries!  Most of the audiobooks are available to be “checked out” for a limited period of time, after which they are electronically “returned”, and no longer available on your device.  Because of this system (sometimes called “DRM” or digital rights management), these library audiobooks won’t work on all devices — but they do work on computers and many MP3 players, smartphones, and the iPad/iPhone are supported.

Not sure where to start? Here are 10 free audiobook titles we’ve enjoyed (in no particular order):

  1. Wonderful Wizard of Oz
  2. Marvelous Land of Oz
  3. Raggedy Ann Stories
  4. Raggedy Andy Stories
  5. Our Island Story
  6. The Bobbsey Twins
  7. Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore
  8. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
  9. The Secret Garden
  10. Five Little Peppers and How they Grew

Happy Listening!


Collage Friday: Leaping, Cutting and Pasting March 2, 2012

Filed under: Holidays,Weekly Highlights — kirstenjoyhill @ 11:20 am

1. We celebrated Leap Day with a “fun school” day.  Despite my previous aspirations, we did not do a 100 days celebration as well.  Between the amount of time I was able to find to prepare, and remembering how busy our fun school Valentines day was, I decided we would shelve the 100 days celebration for this year and plan for it next year (since we will, of course, have to wait another four years to celebrate Leap Day!).  In the picture, the kids are playing leaping lilly pad games inspired by this post at Toddler Approved.

2. Also inspired by Toddler Approved, we read Frog and Toad stories on Leap Day — including the story about cookies and willpower.  Then of course we had to make some cookies.  Peanut Butter kiss cookies are a favorite here…and who says they are only a Christmas cookie? Not us!  It was fun to talk about willpower and if there is any difference between willpower and self-control.  (The kids said “no” initially, but I tried to make the case that willpower is something of our own effort, while self-control is a fruit of the Spirit).

3.  Miss M helped daddy to make our second-ever batch of homemade rootbeer! I jumped the gun on opening the first 2 liter of homemade rootbeer, and it was not very fizzy.  We’ll open batch number two tonight!

4.  While getting out some science and geography worksheets for Miss M (she really likes these, and she is probably learning at least a little bit from them), I remembered I had a Kumon cutting and pasting book for the boys we hadn’t gotten out at all this school year.

5. and 6.  With completion of lesson 81 on Tessellations, Miss M has made it through the big section of geometry/drawing lessons in the middle of RightStart C.  We had a review day yesterday and a games day today.  Miss M was not pleased to hear that we are back to “regular” lessons after this involving mostly adding, subtracting and multiplying.  She really likes the drawing and geometry!

7. Mr. E wrote a star wars story inspired by a book we read together.  I printed it out on a few sheets of paper, and he enjoyed cutting out and pasting on pictures to illustrate it from the Star Wars preschool pack at homeschool creations and from printables found on the Star Wars website.  We even bound it together with my new ProClick binding machine.  He told me, “this is a real book now!”

8. Miss M has her own cutting and pasting project — she is working on the Horse lapbook from Hands of a Child.  She has chosen horses as the subject for her “Expert Day” project for our homeschool co-op.  More on expert day in coming weeks!

9. Aren’t Baby J and Mr. E cute in their almost-matching shirts? One was a hand-me-down and one was from the thrift store — they have the same picture but different words! It’s not the best picture of the two of them, but every picture I tried to take where the boys were looking at me, Baby J’s hands were blocking his shirt! Baby J turned 4 months old this week and is now 15lbs and 12 oz!

Have a wonderful weekend!

I’m linking up with:

Collage Friday @ Homegrown Learners and the Weekly Wrap-Up @ Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers!


Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers


Book Discoveries this Week – Hitty: Her First Hundred Years March 1, 2012

Filed under: Books — kirstenjoyhill @ 8:39 am

Decades before Buzz and Woody came to life on the big screen, a doll named Hitty had many years of world-traveling adventures before finally residing in an antique store, where she is at leisure to write her memoirs.  I was inspired to add Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field to our read-aloud list after reading Amy’s review at the Newberry Project blog.  “Hitty” won the Newberry medal in 1930.

Hitty is a small doll who was crafted from mountain ash wood in the woods of Maine in the early 19th century.  Her first is owner is the daughter of a whaling ship captain.  Phoebe Preble accompanies her father on a whaling voyage, sending Hitty off to far away lands with her.   Hitty sees her first owner through many ordeals on this journey.  But, as things so often go for well-loved toys that go everywhere with her owners, she is eventually lost.  A fine doll made of mountain-ash wood fares well even through the most difficult of circumstances, however, and Hitty soon finds herself with other owners.  Thus Hitty journeys through the 19th and early 20th century owned by various little girls of differing social positions, as well as being “employed” as a fashion model, a portrait model and even as a prop in the act of a snake charmer!

Miss M and I really loved Hitty…a lot!  This is the kind of book that even after reading a long-ish chapter, we would often look at each other and one of us would say “just one more chapter?”  I really enjoyed the passing of time in this book.  The world and many things in it change, but Hitty fundamentally does not.  She makes her observations of the changes in the world from a sort of “outsiders” perspective as one who sees it but does not really participate.  Something about this grand sweep of time really appealed to me.   It kept me turning the pages to see how the fate would move Hitty on from owner to owner, wondering what situation she would find herself in next.

Hitty does have a flaw, which I hope you can forgive her for.  She is a product of her time, and this book is a product of its time.  So, it is very “non-pc” at various points.  While it didn’t bother me too much to hear Hitty describe natives on a remote pacific island as idol-worshipping savages, this might bother some readers.  I was a little more bothered by Hitty’s description of African Americans in the south in the post-civil wars years of the late 19th century.  While it is probably not too far from accurate as to how black girls of that time might have been thought of or portrayed, I did edit some as I was reading since I was not really prepared to discuss with Miss M right then and there why their skin color was such a big deal.   Racial prejudice is a heavy subject for bedtime.

Despite this small “flaw”, I think Hitty is a book that stands the test of time.  It’s a very enjoyable read-aloud, and it might just make it to the top of the list of my favorite read-alouds for this year.

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