The Phantom Tollbooth

Recently we started a parent/child book club based on the format in Deconstructing Penguins mentioned in the previous post. Towards the end of Deconstructing Penguins, the Lawrence’s give a list of a few great books to start your book club with. The first one on the list was The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster.

This lively humorous children’s book was published in 1961.  Now considering I was born in the late 60′s I was amazed that I had never before seen this book, let alone heard of it – so let me start out by saying that this is an amazing piece of children’s literature full of clever puns and idioms that make this children’s book a very entertaining allegory full of witty appeal. Although it can be read at a fourth grade reading level:

  Critics have acknowledged that the book is advanced for most children, who would not understand all the wordplay or the framing metaphor of how to achieve wisdom. Writers like the reviewer in The New York Times have focused on the children and adults able to appreciate it; for them, it has “something wonderful for anybody old enough to relish the allegorical wisdom of Alice in Wonderland and the pointed whimsy of The Wizard of Oz”. It is now often acknowledged as a classic of children’s literature. - Wikipedia

That being said, all the more reason to explore this book as a family, or even better in a parent/child book club. We had a lot of fun digging deeper together in this book and I have to say, most kids in the group understood most of the underlying wit with just a few probing questions. The little “Ah-ha!” moments of understanding were going off constantly in the circle of kids (and adults too!). Even if you don’t dig deeper with this book, I found that most kids had it read in just a couple of days – and some (including my own) choosing to read it again.

If the title of this book is new to you, consider adding it to your children’s book list. The Phantom Tollbooth is a highly engaging, lively, funny, witty, and thought-provoking read.

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Filed under Books, Language Arts, Learning, Reading

How to Deconstruct a Penguin

penguinsI recently came across this book Deconstructing  Penguins by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. It’s basically explaining how you can establish a book club for kids and their parents. The Goldstone’s conducted their own parent/child book club for years with such great success, that they decided to put the detais in a book for the rest of us.

Up until recently, I haven’t been a big fan of the novel study curricula available to homeschoolers. These are typically geared towards elementary school kids and are loaded with somewhat predictable questions seeking just as many predictable answers. In short form, if the child has read said book with minimal interest, then it is most likely they will find these types of questions on the fringe of boring. For these reasons I discarded many of these types of novel studies.

Enter Deconstructing Penguins. This book was like a breath of fresh air. It made literary analysis; dare I say…exciting to kids! Not only are kids and their parents encouraged to read the book together, the book created opportunities to get together with other families who have read a particular children’s novel, and dig a little deeper with regards to what the story was really about. I found it almost effortless to introduce the kids to things like protagonist, antagonist, setting, climax, and plot. I also discovered that such an approach to digging deeper into literature really lent itself well to a group setting. The kids fed off each other, brainstormed together, shared different points of view, and…..wait for it…..LEARNED together.

I find as homeschoolers, there are vast amounts of quality time spent in independent learning. Occasionally, I find independent learning can sometimes lack opportunities for our kids to hear others’ points of view. I personally see this as not only beneficial, but also necessary. So, where time allows, I would like to do more of it, and Deconstructing Penguins has provided our homeschool with just such an opportunity.

I highly recommend this book and found it worthy of the valuable real estate in my resource library. Give it a read, and give it a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised – and my kids can’t wait to do the next book! (oh, and btw – the parents had fun too!)

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Filed under Books, Curriculum, Language Arts, Learning

Hello Again World!

Well, it appears I have taken a rather prolonged siesta from my blogging. Wow, five months since I’ve written anything here. A lot has happened in between. We have sold the house you see in the below post, and have decided to build the house I had mentioned in a previous post. So I have been rather waylaid to say the least.

I am still homeschooling, and my kiddos have now entered the 5th and 7th grades. It has been a little tougher to set my teeth into another year of homeschooling this year, but more on that later. What I find amazing is my reader levels haven’t dropped off. So in honor of all you folks who drop by now and then to see what this homeschooling stuff is all about, I will endeavor to keep new material on the ins and outs of our homeschool journey on this blog.

It’s been pouring buckets on our island here, so the weather has provided us with lots of time to really dig into our subjects. I’ll make sure I fill you in on what some of those subjects are in future posts. For now, I’ll leave you with a photo of what usually happens around these parts when the sky parts and brings forth its rain….a rainbow!

266a

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Friday’s Photo

bird feet

American Coot on Ice

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Homeschool Perk #3

Homeschool Perk #3: Family Bonding

top tenI have been writing on a continuing theme over at Heart of the Matter Online for the last few months, with the emphasis being on the many perks of homeschooling. Head on over to Heart of the Matter to read all about it here. While your there, feel free to read through the previous homeschool perks, listed at the bottom of my article on their site. See you there!

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Filed under Encouragement, Life, Parenting

Quotes on Sunday

To repeat what others have said, requires education, to challenge it,
requires brains.  – Mary Pettibone Poole

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Bookworm Bliss

House & HomeschoolA place for everything and everything in it’s place. That’s a very satisfying sentence, don’t you think? For some this comes easier than others.

Managing a household on a single income can be rather challenging these days, at best. Throw in trying to make your house a home, designing  or decorating it accordingly, and establishing organizational flow can be rather difficult on a shoestring budget. Garage sale and thrift store finds work well for the budget or collector enthusiast, who don’t mind refinishing or re-upholstering. There is an art however, to making this work and still be able to maintain style throughout your home. I did this for a long time and happily called it eclectic. Ecclectic did it’s time, until I tired of having to acquire additional finds for extra storage space that my eclectic pieces simply would no longer accommodate.

My husband and I have been renovating our exisiting 1950′s home for the last eight years, and any additional money generally went towards another room that needed fixing up. Finally, the renovations were near complete, and I found myself carefully scrutinizing the present purpose of my once satisfying finds. I was on the hunt for maximum storage and clean lines. Living in a small space made me look at vertical storage. I hunted. I found. I rejoiced. IKEA! (applause)

Being a homeschool family, we naturally had an insane amount of books. When you homeschool, by the way, books become treasures. We like to have our treasures visible and readily available. The mismatched eclectic bookcases went out, the IKEA Billy bookcases went in (more applause). The book cases in the below pics were purchased at IKEA, all for under $500 including taxes. You can mix and match this system for your own room dimensions, adding or subtracting pieces accordingly. You can pick your own finish, and add or subtract as many doors (with their own variety of designs) as you like. You can even do a happy dance.

Below are our books in all their book lover’s bliss. So, where do your books live?

Billy Bookcases 2

Billy Bookcases

Billy Bookcases 1

Billy Bookcases

 

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