phd mama

from diapers to deconstruction


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Wabi Sabi: A Japanese List

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My younger daughter says her favorite thing about our unit study of Japan was the rice, providing further confirmation that we’re in it for the food. We did go out for Japanese food during this study, practicing with chopsticks and sampling sushi. My older daughter says she loved learning about all the different festivals and holidays in Japan, and these books certainly cover those topics as well. They also fell in love with Totoro in their introduction to anime. As you can see, this list does what I strive to do with all of our place-based unit studies: get a sense of the culture through history, folklore, fairy tales, contemporary accounts, food, music, crafts, and geography. This list showed us loyal animals, origami, wise rulers, everyday families, and, yes, rice. It’s the next best thing to travel!

  1. All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts and More by Willamarie Moore and Kazumi Wilds
  2. Chibi: A True Story from Japan by Barbara Brenner, Julia Takaya, and June Otani
  3. Cooking the Japanese Way by Reiko Weston
  4. Color Crayola’s Japanese Flag and Map
  5. The Culture and Crafts of Japan by Miriam Coleman
  6. Dodsworth in Tokyo by Tim Egan
  7. Dragon of the Red Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  8. The Emperor’s Plum Tree by Michelle Nikly and Elizabeth Shub
  9. Erika-San by Allen Say
  10. Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog by Pamela Turner and Yan Nascimbene
  11. I Live in Tokyo by Mari Takabayashi
  12. Watch Families of Japan
  13. The Funny Little Woman by Arlene Mosel and Blair Lent
  14. Japan by C.I.A.’s World Factbook
  15. Japan: Tradition, Culture, and Daily Life by Michael Centore
  16. Japanse Celebrations: Cherry Blossoms, Lanterns and Stars! by Betty Reynolds
  17. Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories by Florence Sakade and Yoshisuke Kurosaki
  18. Little Kunoichi: The Ninja Girl by Sanae Ishida
  19. My First Book of Japanese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book by Michelle Haney Brown and Aya Padrón
  20. My Japan by Etsuko Watanabe
  21. Watch My Neighbor Totoro
  22. Night of the Ninjas by Mary Pope Osborne
  23. Ninjas and Samurai by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Bryce
  24. Make an Origami Crane
  25. Watch Ponyo
  26. The Real Princess Diaries by Grace Norwich
  27. Three Samurai Cats: A Story from Japan by Eric Kimmel and Mordicai Gerstein
  28. Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein and Ed Young
  29. The Way We Do It in Japan by Geneva Cobb IIjima and Paige Billin-Frye
  30. Tokyo Friends by Betty Reynolds


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Aloha, Hawaii!

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I started this list because of all the buzz about Moana; while I realize that film is not totally rooted in Hawaiian culture, I wanted my children to have a deeper understanding of the rich history of one of the Polynesian islands than a single film (however dominant in the marketplace) could provide. What follows is a list that delves into the historical, geological, and mythological stories of Hawaii. There are stories that focus on native peoples, colonialism, Pearl Harbor, and President Obama, as well as tales that tell of contemporary, everyday life on the islands. There are stories of the volcanoes and wildlife that make the islands unique. And there are, of course, stories from the mythological tradition (many about Maui that, my elder daughter noted, did not make it into the Disney movie). As always, I appreciate the interdisciplinary approach of this list and the way it illustrates a place with a rich history that is by no means confined to the past.

  1. A is for Aloha: A Hawai’i Alphabet by U’ilani Goldsberry and Tammy Yee
  2. The Adventures of Bella & Harry: Let’s Visit Maui! by Lisa Manzione and Kristine Lucco
  3. Aloha Is… by Tammy Paikai and Rosalie Prussing
  4. Children of Hawaii by Frank Staub
  5. Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan and Lillian Hsu-Flanders
  6. Goodnight Hawaiian Moon by Dr. Carolan and Joanna F. Carolan
  7. Grandma Calls Me Beautiful by Barbara Joosse and Barbara Lavallee
  8. Listen to Hawaiian Playground by Putumayo Kids Presents
  9. Hawai’i: The Aloha State by Jill Foran
  10. Hawaii: The Aloha State by Emily Oachs
  11. The Hawai’i Snowman by Christine Lê and Michel Lê
  12. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park by M.C. Hall
  13. How Māui Slowed the Sun by Suelyn Ching Tune and Robert Yoko Burningham
  14. Hula Lullaby by Erin Eitter Kono
  15. The Last Princess: The Story of Princess Ka’iulani of Hawai’i by Fay Stanley and Diane Stanley
  16. The Legend of the Kukui Nut by Robert Brandon Henderson and Mark McKenna
  17. Legends of Landforms: Native American Lore and the Geology of the Land by Carole G. Vogel
  18. Little Princess Ka’iulani in Her Garden in the Sea by Ellie Crowe and Mary Koski
  19. Māui and the Secret of Fire by Suelyn Ching Tune and Robert Yoko Burningham
  20. The Menehune of Naupaka Village: A Hawaiian Fairy Tale by Christopher Sur and Gary Kato
  21. The Musubi Man: Hawai’i’s Gingerbread Man by Sandi Takayama and Pat Hall
  22. Pearl Harbor by Stephen Krensky and Larry Day
  23. Pele and Poli’ahu: A Tale of Fire and Ice by Malia Collins and Kathleen Peterson
  24. Pele and the Rivers of Fire by Michael Nordenstrom
  25. Pig-Boy: A Trickster Tale from Hawai’i by Gerald McDermott
  26. A President from Hawai’i by Dr. Terry Carolan, Joanna Carolan, and Elizabeth Zunon
  27. Punia and the King of Sharks: A Hawaiian Folktale by Lee Wardlaw and Felipe Davalos
  28. South Pacific Mythology by Jim Ollhoff
  29. The Story of Hula by Carla Golembe
  30. The Surprising Things Maui Did by Jay Williams and Charles Mikolaycak
  31. Tales of Tutu Nene and Nele by Gale Bates and Carole Hinds McCarty
  32. Tsunami: The True Story of an April Fools’ Day Disaster by Gail Langer Karwoski and John MacDonald
  33. The Woman in the Moon: A Story from Hawai’i by Jama Kim Rattigan and Carla Golembe
  34. Young Princesses around the World: A Story Based on the Real Life of Princess Liliuokalani of Hawaii by Joan Holub and Nonna Aleshina
  35. Who Is Barack Obama? by Roberta Edwards and John O’Brien


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Earth, Moon, and Stars

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[Disclaimer: Based on my daughter’s artwork, above, an asteroid will obliterate the earth, rendering this list unnecessary.]

This list repeats a little of “Our Place in Space,” but it’s primarily an extension of that content because my kids are really into space. In addition to using some great, clear nights to use our telescope, we developed this list to enhance our understanding of space with stories about the earth, moon, and stars. Some of the texts are scientific non-fiction; others are myths and legends; others still are historical and biographical. I love the way these different kinds of stories intersect across disciplines and reveal so many different perspectives of the world, our place within it, and our role in the big picture of space.

 

Earth

Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm

Comets, Meteors, and Asteroids by Seymour Simon

Watch The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot about That: Space is the Place

Destination: Space by Seymour Simon

The Earth Is Painted Green: A Garden of Poems about Our Planet edited by Barbara Brenner and illustrated by S. D. Schindler

Earth: Our Planet in Space by Seymour Simon

Earth Tales from Around the World by Michael J. Caduto and Adelaide Murphy Tyrol

First Earth Encyclopedia by DK Publishing

Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm

Watch Nutmeg Media’s Living Sunlight

On Earth by G. Brian Karas

Our Solar System by Seymour Simon

Planet Earth/Inside Out by Gail Gibbons

Watch DK Eyewitness’s Planets

The Planets by Gail Gibbons

Saturn by Seymour Simon

What Makes Day and Night by Franklyn M. Branley and Arthur Dorros

You’re Aboard Spaceship Earth by Patricia Lauber and Holly Keller

What’s So Special about Planet Earth? by Robert E. Wells

 

Moon

Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon by Torben Kuhlmann

Hello, Harvest Moon by Ralph Fletcher and Kate Kiesler

I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis and Alison Jay

If You Decide to Go to the Moon by Faith McNulty and Steven Kellogg

The Man Made of Stars by M. H. Clark and Lisa Evans

The Moon by Seymour Simon

Moon by Steve Tomecek and Liisa Chauncy Guida

The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons

Moonday by Adam Rex

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and John

Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle

Phases of the Moon by Gillia M. Olson and Jo Miller

Thirteen Moons on Turtle’s Back: A Native American Year of Moons by Joseph Bruchac, Jonathan London, and Thomas Locker

What the Moon is Like by Franklyn M. Branley and True Kelley

 

Stars

How the Stars Fell into the Sky: A Navajo Legend by Jerrie Oughton and Lisa Desimini

How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers

Jump into Science: Stars by Steve Tomecek and Sachiko Yoshikawa

Our Stars by Anne Rockwell

Stars by Mary Lyn Ray and Marla Frazee

The Sun: Our Nearest Star by Franklyn M. Branley and Edward Miller

 


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The Shape of Things

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This list is geared toward my preschooler, to give her a foundation in some of the basic early learning concepts like shapes. See Ellen Booth Church’s “Why Colors and Shapes Matter” for the rationale behind emphasizing shapes in preschool education. I combined picture books about shapes with hands-on activities. While it’s a preschool list, my whole family enjoyed the tactile activities, though my younger daughter most enjoyed sorting the random bag of buttons I found in my sewing box. Though these are all fundamentals, I selected these books for the list because of their creative interpretations and presentations, often combining beautiful art and cultural awareness with learning about shapes. Shape recognition primes us to look at the world around us in a different way, and this list helped us do just that.

  1. City Shapes by Diana Murray and Bryan Collier
  2. Play with cookie cutters and play-dough
  3. Color Crayola’s Basic Shapes 1 and Basic Shapes 2
  4. I Spy Shapes in Art by Lucy Micklethwait
  5. My Very Frist Book of Shapes by Eric Carle
  6. Paris: A Book of Shapes by Ashley Evanson
  7. Make shapes with Learning Resource’s Pattern Block Activity Pack
  8. Round is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Thong and Grace Lin
  9. Round is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and John Parra
  10. Shape by Shape by Suse MacDonald
  11. The Shape Song Swingalong by Stevesongs and David Sim
  12. Sort colorful shaped buttons
  13. When a Line Bends…A Shape Begins by Rhonda Gowler Greene and James Kaczman


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Colonial Times

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It was easy to get carried away with our unit study of colonial times because the resources listed below helped us to explore nearly every aspect of that historical era. We made colonial crafts, recreated recipes of the times, and visited historical sites to capture the feeling of the American colonies. This list emphasizes the daily life as well as the big issues of the day so we can see the ways that the micro- and macro-levels of history converge. And while we didn’t talk about it with quite that language, it came up conceptually—until we got distracted again by conversations about colonial bathrooms.

  1. Watch “Ben and Me” on Walt Disney’s Timeless Tales, Volume 3
  2. Ben and Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin by His Good Mouse Amos, Discovered, Edited, and Illustrated by Robert Lawson
  3. The Blacksmith by Bobbie Kalman
  4. The Cold, Hard facts about Science and Medicine in Colonial America by Elizabeth Raum
  5. Colonial Times from A to Z by Bobbie Kalman
  6. Watch clips from “Colonial Williamsburg”
  7. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Doctor by Laurie Krebs
  8. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Glassblower by J. L. Branse
  9. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Indigo Planter by Laurie Krebs
  10. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Innkeeper by Kathy Wilmore
  11. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Lighthouse Keeper by Laurie Krebs
  12. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Miller by Laurie Krebs
  13. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Printer by Kathy Wilmore
  14. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Sailmaker by Laurie Krebs
  15. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Schoolteacher by Kathy Wilmore
  16. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Shipwright by Laurie Krebs
  17. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Wigmaker by Kathy Wilmore
  18. The Dish on Food and Farming in Colonial America by Anika Fajardo
  19. The Dreadful, Smelly Colonies: The Disgusting Details about Life in Colonial America by Elizabeth Raum
  20. Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by Robert Byrd
  21. A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall
  22. Hasty Pudding, Johnnycakes, and Other Good Stuff: Cooking in Colonial America by Loretta Frances Ichord and Jan Davy Elis
  23. If You Lived in Colonial Times by Ann McGovern and Brinton Turkle
  24. If You Lived in Williamsburg in Colonial Days by Barbara Brenner and Jenny Williams
  25. Inventors and Inventions in Colonial America by Charlie
  26. Journey to Monticello: Traveling in Colonial Times by James E. Knight
  27. The Milliner by Niki Walker, Bobbie Kalman, and Barbara Bedell
  28. Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen and Michael J. Deraney
  29. The New Americans: Colonial Times (1620-1689) by Betsy Maestro and Giulio Maestro
  30. Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall and Barbara Cooney
  31. The Real Story about Government and Politics in Colonial America by Kristine Carlson Asselin
  32. The Real Story on the Weapons and Battles of Colonial America by Kristine Carlson Asselin
  33. The Scoop on Clothes, Homes, and Daily Life in Colonial America by Elizabeth Raum
  34. The Scoop on School and Work in Colonial America by Bonnie Hinman
  35. When I Was Built by Jennifer Thermes


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Daydreams and Downpours: A Cloud List

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Our clouds list is a spin-off from our “Whatever the Weather” study. There’s a bit of science here mixed with a bit of silliness as the literary and poetic interpretations of clouds come into play. While some of the weather descriptions get a bit whacky in the resources here, we appreciated the way that science and art intersect. Clouds help us read the weather, but they’re also the province of daydreamers, and the items below pay homage to both of those roles.

  1. The Cloud Book by Tomie de Paola
  2. Cloud Dance by Thomas Locker
  3. The Cloud Spinner by Michael Catchpool and Alison Jay
  4. Cloud Tea Monkeys by Mal Peet, Elspeth Graham, and Juan Winjgaard
  5. Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld
  6. Clouds: Compare and Contrast by Katharine Hall
  7. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett
  8. Watch Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
  9. It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw
  10. Little Cloud by Eric Carle
  11. Once Upon a Cloud by Claire Keane
  12. Weather Clues in the Sky: Clouds by Belinda Jensen and Renée Kurilla


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Whatever the Weather

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My kids particularly liked Bel the Weather Girl from this list, and I appreciate her book’s efforts to inform while demystifying weather events that often seem scary. The resources below are largely practical, with the definitions of key weather terms, the science behind the storms, and the strategies for reading the weather and staying safe. All our talk about forecasting and storms also brought up some interesting points—like the way meteorology gives us so much critical data to live our daily lives in ways that weren’t possible before advanced forecasting. It’s easy to take all this information for granted, but our list helped us understand a little more of the complex science of weather and its effects on our lives every day.

  1. Boy, Were We Wrong about the Weather! by Kathleen Kudlinski and Sebastià Serra
  2. Everything Weather by Kathy Furgang and Tim Samaras
  3. Flash, Crash, Rumble, and Roll by Franklyn Branley and True Kelley
  4. The Kids’ Book of Weather Forecasting by Mark Breen and Kathleen Friestad
  5. Oh Say Can You Say What’s the Weather Today? All about Weather by Tish Rabe and Aristides Ruiz
  6. On the Same Day in March: A Tour of the World’s Weather by Marilyn Singer and Frané Lessac
  7. A Party for Clouds: Thunderstorms by Belinda Jensen and Renée Kurilla
  8. Raindrops on a Roller Coaster: Hail by Belinda Jensen and Renée Kurilla
  9. The Sky Stirs Up Trouble: Tornadoes by Belinda Jensen and Renée Kurilla
  10. Spinning Wind and Water: Hurricanes by Belinda Jensen and Renée
  11. Watch Tell Me Why: Water & Weather
  12. The Storm Book by Charlotte Zolotow and Margaret Bloy Graham
  13. W is for Wind: A Weather Alphabet by Pat Michaels and Melanie Rose
  14. Weather by Seymour Simon
  15. Weather Words and What They Mean by Gail Gibbons
  16. What Will the Weather Be? by Lynda DeWitt and Carolyn Croll