phd mama

from diapers to deconstruction


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An Epic Adventure in Greece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our unit study of Greece turned out to be a long one because there are so many great stories out there. While I started with and wanted to include some contemporary stories about Greece, my children were enthralled by the mythological tales. This list is a mix of modern and mythological, with more emphasis on the latter, though there’s a bit of science, math, and geography in here too. I always feel that a list has been successful when my children incorporate it into their play, and even after finishing this one, my younger daughter still runs around the yard shouting “I have the strength of Hercules!” Our captivation with these stories from a place rich in history and culture speaks to the enduring strength of Greece.

  1. The Adventures of Bella & Harry: Let’s Visit Athens by Lisa Manzione and Kristine Lucco
  2. Aesop’s Fables illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger
  3. Ancient Greece and the Olympics by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Osborne
  4. Be Patient, Pandora! by Joan Holub and Leslie Patricelli
  5. The Best Book of Ancient Greece by Belinda Weber
  6. Christmas in Greece by World Book
  7. Color Crayola’s Greek Flag
  8. Count Your Way through Greece by Jim Haskins, Kathleen Benson, and Janice Lee Porter
  9. Cupid and Psyche by M. Charlotte Craft and K. Y. Craft
  10. D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths by Ingri d’Aulaire and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
  11. Echo Echo: Reverso Poems about Greek Myths by Marilyn Singer and Josée Masse
  12. Favorite Greek Myths by Mary Pope Osborne and Troy Howell
  13. The First Marathon: The Legend of Pheidippides by Susan Reynolds and Daniel Minter
  14. The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus by Aliki
  15. Greece by C.I.A. World Factbook
  16. Hercules by Robert Burleigh and Raul Colón
  17. The Hero and the Minotaur: The Fantastic Adventures of Theseus by Robert Byrd
  18. Hour of the Olympics by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  19. I Am Pan! by Mordicai Gerstein
  20. I Have an Olive Tree by Eve Bunting by Karen Barbour
  21. The Iliad by Gillian Cross and Neil Packer
  22. King Midas and the Golden Touch by Charlotte Craft and K.Y. Craft
  23. The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Kathryn Lasky and Kevin Hawkes
  24. The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
  25. Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush’s Incredible Journey by Doug Kuntz, Amy Shrodes, and Sue Cornelison
  26. The Odyssey by Homer and Manuela Adreani
  27. The Odyssey by Gillian Cross and Neil Packer
  28. The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from Greece by Anthony Manna, Soula Mitkakidou, and Giselle Potter
  29. Pandora by Robert Burleigh and Raul Colón
  30. Pegasus by Marianna Mayer and K.Y. Craft
  31. Pegasus, the Flying Horse by Jane Yolen and Li Ming
  32. Mice, Morals, & Monkey Business: Lively Lessons from Aesop’s Fables by Christopher Wormel
  33. Semolina-Semolinus: A Greek Folktale by Anthony Manna, Christodoula Mitakidou, and Giselle Potter
  34. Mythological Monsters of Ancient Greece by Sara Fanelli
  35. The Pomegranate Seeds by Laura Geringer and Leonid Gore
  36. The Rabbit and the Turtle by Eric Carle
  37. Watch Rick Steves’ Greece & Turkey
  38. This is Greece by M. Sasek
  39. The Trojan Horse: How the Greeks Won the War by Emily Little and Michael Eagle
  40. Usborne Greek Myths for Young Children by Heather Amery and Linda Edwards
  41. What’s Your Angle Pythagoras? A Math Adventure by Julie Ellis and Phyllis Hornung
  42. Who Was Alexander the Great? by Kathryn Waterfield and Robin Waterfield
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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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When Irish Eyes Are Reading

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For our study of Ireland, we listened to a lot of toe-tapping tunes and fancied finding wee folk all over. As with all of our place-based units, there’s a mixture here of folklore and history. We made connections to our own family background and our region’s Irish influences, not to mention finding a new bread recipe we love. I got to share one of my favorite childhood movies with my girls and found a new and enchanting film for us all. Our exploration of The Emerald Isle was filled with wonder, but the real magic, as always, is in the journey-by-book.

  1. Brigid’s Cloak: An Ancient Irish Story by Bryce Milligan and Helen Cann
  2. Watch Darby O’Gill and the Little People
  3. Fiona’s Lace by Patricia Polacco
  4. Fiona’s Luck by Teresa Bateman and Kelly Murphy
  5. Great Irish Legends for Children by Yvonne Carroll and Robin Lawrie
  6. “Ireland” by CIA World Factbook
  7. Color the flags of Ireland and Northern Ireland by Crayola
  8. The Irish Cinderlad by Shirley Climo and Loretta Krupinski
  9. Irish Fairy Tales edited by Philip Smith
  10. Bake Irish Soda Bread
  11. Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato: An Irish Folktale by Tomie dePaola
  12. Leprechaun in Late Winter by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  13. Leprechauns and Irish Folklore by Mary Pope Osborne, Natalie Pope Bryce, and Sal Murdocca
  14. The Leprechaun’s Gold by Pamela Duncan Edwards and Henry Cole
  15. Leprechauns on the Loose: An Adventure in Ireland by Disney’s Small World Library
  16. The Long March: The Choctaw’s Gift to Irish Famine Relief by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
  17. O’Sullivan Stew by Hudson Talbott
  18. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola
  19. The Prince of Ireland and the Three Magic Stallions by Bryce Milligan and Preston McDaniels
  20. Listen to Putumayo Presents: Celtic Crossroads
  21. Listen to Putumayo Presents: Women of the World, Celtic
  22. S is for Shamrock: An Ireland Alphabet by Eve Bunting and Matt Faulkner
  23. Watch The Secret of Kells
  24. This is Ireland by Miroslav Sasek
  25. Tim O’Toole and the Wee Folk: An Irish Tale by Gerald McDermott
  26. Viking Ships at Sunrise by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca


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From Sea to Shining Sea: The U.S.A.

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To complement our unit on New York, we looked more broadly at the United States, too. The goal of this list was to provide an overview of the geography of the fifty states and a brief introduction to how the states got started. There are so many directions we can explore from this list, but my purpose here was to give my girls a sweeping view of our country so we can dig into the details later, from sea to shining sea.

  1. The 50 States by Gabrielle Balkan and Sol Linero
  2. Celebrate the 50 States by Loreen Leedy
  3. Complete Melissa and Doug’s Wooden Fifty States Puzzle (pictured)
  4. Exploration and Conquest: The Americas after Columbus (1500-1620) by Betsy Maestro and Giulio Maestro
  5. Greetings from the 50 States: How They Got Their Names by Sheila Keenan and Selina Alko
  6. Home: A Journey Through America by Thomas Locker
  7. The New Americans: Colonial Times (1620-1689) by Betsy Maestro and Giulio Maestro
  8. The Scrambled States of America by Laurie Keller
  9. The Scrambled States of America Talent Show by Laurie Keller
  10. Watch Scholastic’s The Scrambled States of America
  11. What Is the Statue of Liberty? by Joan Holub and John Hinderliter
  12. What Was Ellis Island? by Patricia Brennan Demuth and David Groff
  13. The United States of America: A State-by-State Guide by Millie Miller and Cyndi Nelson
  14. United Tweets of America: 50 State Birds by Hudson Talbott
  15. Listen to Wee Sing America

 

 


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Keep Calm and Read On

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For our latest literary adventure, we traveled to London—home to some of the greatest children’s literature of all time. From Paddington to Queen Victoria, from The Globe to Big Ben, from The Beatles to Mary Poppins, we canvased England’s capital city. Our selections span time periods and genres, and includes well-known characters as well as lovable new friends. As always in our travels, we immersed ourselves in the history and culture of our subject, taking on new characters to add to our repertoires, and finding our worldviews transformed in the process.

  1. The Adventures of Bella & Harry: Let’s Visit London by Lisa Manzione and Kristine Lucco
  2. Listen to The Beatles
  3. The Beatles by Mick Manning and Brita Granström
  4. The Beatles by Mike Venezia
  5. The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny) by Kathleen Krull, Paul Brewer, and Stacy Innerst
  6. Bed-knob and Broomstick by Mary Norton
  7. Watch Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks
  8. A Boy Called Dickens by Deborah Hopkinson and John Hendrix
  9. Charles Dickens: The Man Who Had Great Expectations by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema
  10. Charlotte in London by Joan MacPhail Knight and Melissa Sweet
  11. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and Brett Helquist
  12. Read the CIA’s World Factbook about the United Kingdom
  13. Color Crayola’s flag and map of England
  14. Fur, Fins, and Feathers: Abraham Dee Bartlett and the Invention of the Modern Zoo by Cassandre Maxwell
  15. A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time by Mary Pope Osborne
  16. Good Queen Bess: The Story of Elizabeth I of England by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema
  17. Katie in London by James Mayhew
  18. The Knight at Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  19. Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers
  20. Watch Disney’s Mary Poppins
  21. Watch Disney’s Mickey’s Christmas Carol
  22. Paddington by Michael Bond
  23. Watch Paddington
  24. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
  25. Watch Disney’s Peter Pan
  26. Popcorn at the Palace by Emily Arnold McCully
  27. A Possum’s Tail by Gabby Dawnay and Alex Barrow
  28. Queen Victoria’s Bathing Machine by Gloria Whelan and Nancy Carpenter
  29. The Queen’s Progress: An Elizabethan Alphabet by Celeste Davidson Mannis and Bagram Ibatoulline
  30. Shakespeare’s Seasons by Miriam Weiner and Shannon Whitt
  31. Stage Fright on a Summer Night by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  32. Watch The Sword in the Stone
  33. This is London by M. Sasek
  34. Color Crayola’s flag and map of the United Kingdom
  35. A Walk in London by Salvatore Rubbino
  36. William Shakespeare & the Globe by Aliki
  37. Who Was Charles Dickens? by Pamela Pollock and Meg Belviso
  38. Who Was Queen Elizabeth? by June Eding and Nancy Harrison
  39. Who Was Queen Victoria? by Jim Gigliotti and Max Hergenrother
  40. Who Was William Shakespeare? by Celeste Davidson Mannis and John O’Brien
  41. Who Were the Beatles? by Geoff Edgers and Jeremey Tugeau