phd mama

from diapers to deconstruction


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The Barre to the Bookshelf

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After my older daughter started taking ballet class (the first activity she chose for herself), my younger daughter wanted in on the action too. My little one got excited every week about waiting in the lobby just so she could catch a glimpse of her sister sous-sus out of the studio. My elder child loves ballet, but in a reserved, quiet way that fits with her personality; my younger child oozes delight and enthusiasm out of every pore. Finally, we found a class for toddlers and picked up a pair of ballet slippers (on clearance, two sizes too big) for my two-year-old. For the entire first day, she refused to take off the slippers, pirouetting (to the best of her abilities) around the house and asking us all repeatedly if we liked her ballet slippers. We do. She fell asleep with them on and awoke to the same routine. Her class starts in a few days, but her excitement is undiminished, and I have a feeling my children’s love of dance is only beginning. Here are some fun ballerina-stories to keep you inspired between lessons.

  1. Ballet of the Elephants by Leda Schubert and Robert Andrew Parker
  2. Ballet Kitty Ballet Class by Bernette Ford and Sam Williams
  3. Ballet School by Naia Bray-Moffatt and David Handley
  4. Belinda Begins Ballet, Belinda the Ballerina, Belinda and the Glass Slipper, Belinda in Paris by Amy Young
  5. A Bunny in the Ballet by Robert Beck
  6. Dogs Don’t Do Ballet by Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie
  7. Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella, Ella Bella Ballerina and the Nutcracker, Ella Bella Ballerina and the Sleeping Beauty, Ella Bella Ballerina and Swan Lake by James Mayhew
  8. First Ballet by Deanna Caswell and Elizabeth Matthews
  9. Going to My Ballet Class by Susan Kuklin
  10. Lili at Ballet by Rachel Isadora
  11. Miss Lina’s Ballerinas, Miss Lina’s Ballerinas and the Prince, Miss Lina’s Ballerinas and the Wicked Wish by Grace Maccarone and Christine Davenier
  12. On Your Toes: A Ballet ABC by Rachel Isadora
  13. Tallulah’s Nutcracker, Tallullah’s Solo, Tallulah’s Toe Shoes, Tallulah’s Tutu by Marilyn Singer and Alexandra Boiger
  14. We Love Ballet! by Jane Feldman

 

Follow me! @ErinWyble

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From Russia with Love

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I meant to post this before the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, but somehow the list kept getting longer and time slipped by. This unit study combines Russian folklore, history, geography, music, language, arts, and culture; these sources are inspired by my own love of Russian history and culture and my daughters’ love of dancing around the house to classic Russian ballets. There’s a bit of magic here—the spellbinding experience of glimpsing another culture, time, and place through the arts. The texts, music, and activities transport audiences to a snowy world filled with onion-shaped domes and enchanted forests. I hope you enjoy your travels through Russia as much as we do—the only cost is imagination, and you can return again and again.

READ

Around the World Russian Timeline by TIME for kids

At the Wish of a Fish by J. Patrick Lewis and Katya Krénina

Baboushka and the Three Kings by Ruth Robbins and Nicolas Sidjakov

Babushka by Sandra Ann Horn and Sophie Fatus

Clever Katya by Mary Hoffman

Famous Children: Tchaikovsky by Ann Rachlin and Susan Hellard

First Thousand Words in Russian by Heather Amery and Stephen Cartwright

The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship by Arthur Ransome and Uri Shulevitz

The Frog Princess by J. Patrick Lewis and Gennady Spirin

Frog Went A-Traveling by Amanda StJohn and David Wenzel

The Gigantic Turnip by Aleksei Tolstoy and Niamh Sharkey

The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco

The Little Humpbacked Horse by Elizabeth Winthrop and Alexander Koshkin

The Littlest Matryoshka by Corinne Demas Bliss and Kathryn Brown

Luba and the Wren by Patricia Polacco

The Magic Nesting Doll by Jacqueline Ogburn and Laurel Long

Peter the Great by Diane Stanley

Russia by CIA’s World Factbook

Russia ABC’s by Ann Berge and Jeff Yesh

Russia in Colors by Catherine Ipcizade

Sasha’s Matrioshka Dolls by Jana Dillon and Deborah Nourse Lattimore

The Sea King’s Daughter by Aaron Shepard and Gennady Spirin

The Snow Princess by Ruth Sanderson

The Tale of the Firebird by Gennady Spirin

The Wolfhound by Kristine L. Franklin and Kris Waldherr

 

WATCH and LISTEN

American Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake

Anastasia

Disney’s 1946 Peter and the Wolf

Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s Peter and the Wolf

Kirov Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty

Nutcracker: The Motion Picture

Sesame Street’s Elmo’s Musical Adventure: Peter and the Wolf

The Snow Maiden

Teach Me More Russian

 

MAKE and PLAY

Color the Russian flag or St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Color a world map.

Decorate Fabergé eggs.

Learn to play chess.

Prepare traditional Russian dishes (try the blini!).

Print and color nesting dolls or paint your own.

Recreate Russian architecture.

Stamp your passport to Moscow.

 

Follow me! @ErinWyble


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Whale Tales

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My entire family was enchanted by the beluga whale exhibit at The Mystic Aquarium. We watched through the glass, mesmerized, as those big white beauties glided through the water. Although we saw a lot of amazing animals on that trip, none made quite the same impression as the belugas—whose combination of adorableness and majesty captivated my older daughter in particular. She used some of her birthday money to purchase a plush beluga in the souvenir shop, and that whale still holds pride of place even months after our aquarium encounter. I fueled her interest with this book list, featuring some titles about belugas specifically and some about whales more generally. These stories balance fiction and nonfiction while highlighting the beauty of these gentle giants.

  1. Amos & Boris by William Steig
  2. Beluga Passage by Linda Lingemann and Jon Weiman
  3. Beluga Whales by Megan Gunderson
  4. The Christmas Whale by Roger Duvoisin
  5. Hello, Baby Beluga by Darrin Lunde and Patricia J. Wynne
  6. Humphrey the Lost Whale: A True Story by Wendy Tokuda, Richard Hall, and Hanako Wakiyama
  7. Ibis: A True Whale Story by John Himmelman
  8. Jonah’s Whale by Eileen Spinelli and Giuliano Ferri
  9. Pipaluk and the Whales by John Himmelman
  10. The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
  11. The Whale: Lighthouse Family by Cynthia Rylant and Preston McDaniels
  12. Whale Is Stuck by Karen Hayles and Charles Fuge
  13. A Whale of a Tale! All About Porpoises, Dolphins, and Whales by Bonnie Worth, Aritides Ruiz, and Joe Mathieu
  14. Whales by Gail Gibbons
  15. Whales by Seymour Simon
  16. Whales: The Gentle Giants by Joyce Milton and Alton Langford