phd mama

from diapers to deconstruction


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Into the Trees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I admit that our tree unit was just as much for me and my husband as for our kids. We all love to be outdoors, especially in the forest, and this list helped us better identify and appreciate the trees around us. The selections here represent the full life cycle of trees, from seed to decomposing log, and, as in all our science units, I’ve included a bit of history, literature, and art, too, to show the breadth and beauty of these arboreal wonders. Now in our yard and in the forest, there’s more to explore and more to enjoy.

  1. Watch The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot about That: Breeze from the Trees!
  2. Celebritrees: Historic & Famous Trees of the World by Margi Preus and Rebecca Gibbon
  3. Hop, Bunny! Explore the Forest by Susan Neuman
  4. In a Nutshell by Joseph Anthony and Cris Arbo
  5. In the Woods: Who’s Been Here? by Lindsay Barrett George
  6. A Leaf Can Be… by Laura Purdie Salas and Violeta Dabija
  7. A Log’s Life by Wendy Pfeffer and Robin Brickman
  8. Nature’s Green Umbrella: Tropical Rain Forests by Gail Gibbons
  9. Old Elm Speaks: Tree Poems by Kristine O’Connell George and Kate Kiesler
  10. Once There Was a Tree by Natalia Romanova and Gennady Spirin
  11. Seed by Seed: The Legend and Legacy of John “Appleseed” Chapman by Esmé Raji Codell and Lynne Rae Perkins
  12. Seed to Plant by Kristin Baird Rattini
  13. Sky Tree by Thomas Locker
  14. Song of the Trees by Mildred D. Taylor
  15. A Tree Is a Plant by Clyde Robert Bulla and Stacey Schuett
  16. A Tree Is Nice by Janice May Udry and Marc Simont
  17. The Tree Doctor by Tish Rabe and Tom Brannon
  18. Trees, Leaves, and Bark by Diane Burns and Linda Garrow
  19. Who Will Plant a Tree? by Jerry Pallotta and Tom Leonard
  20. Why Do Leaves Change Color? by Betsy Maestro and Loretta Krupinski
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Puerto Rico: The Island of Enchantment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I changed our initial yearly plan this year to include a unit study on Puerto Rico because it was showing up so much in our news cycle. I wanted my kids to have a sense of what’s going on in that part of the United States, but also to know that there’s more to Puerto Rico than the aftermath of hurricanes. As in all our place-based unit studies, I tried to balance history, culture, geography, animals, food, and families, so we get multiple perspectives on each location. And, while I don’t think we did them justice, we did try some fried plantains.

  1. Abuelita’s Paradise by Carmen Santiago Nodar and Diane Paterson
  2. Arrorró, Mi Niño: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games by Lulu Delacre
  3. Color Crayola’s Puerto Rican Flag
  4. Children of Puerto Rico by Michael Elsohn Ross and Felix Rigau
  5. Watch Families of Puerto Rico
  6. Fairy Tales of Puerto Rico by David García and Gus Anavitate
  7. Festival Foods by Jenny Vaughan and Penny Beauchamp
  8. The Golden Flower: A Taino Myth from Puerto Rico by Nina Jaffe and Enrique Sánchez
  9. Good Night Puerto Rico by Lisa Bolivar Martinez and Matthew Martinez
  10. Hispanic American History: Building a New World by Jim Ollhoff
  11. Hurricane! by Jonathan London and Henri Sorensen
  12. It’s My State! Puerto Rico: The Island of Enchantment by Ruth Bjorklund and Richard Hantula
  13. Juan Bobo: Four Folktales from Puerto Rico retold by Carmen Bernier-Grand and Ernesto Ramos Nieves
  14. Juan Bobo and the Horse of Seven Colors by Jan Mike and Charles Reasoner
  15. Juan Bobo Goes to Work by Marisa Montes and Joe Cepeda
  16. Mimi’s Parranda/La Parranda de Mimí by Lydia Gil and Hernán Sosa
  17. Miracle on 133rd Street by Sonia Manzano and Marjorie Priceman
  18. One Proud Penny by Randy Siegel and Serge Bloch
  19. The Outside Dog by Charlotte Pomerantz and Jennifer Plecas
  20. Paco and the Witch by Felix Pitre and Christy Hale
  21. Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Susan Roth and Cindy Trumbore
  22. Puerto Rico by Holly Saari
  23. Puerto Rico by Tyler Maine
  24. Puerto Ricans in America by Stacy Taus-Bolstad
  25. Puerto Rico: Past and Present by Maria DaSilva-Gordon
  26. Rafi and Rosi by Lulu Delacre
  27. Rafi and Rosi: Carnival! By Lulu Delacre
  28. Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates by Jonah Winter and Raúl Colón
  29. Sergio and the Hurricane by Alexandra Wallner
  30. Shake It, Morena! And Other Folklore from Puerto Rico by Carmen Bernier-Grand and Lulu Delacre
  31. The Squeaky Door by Margaret Read MacDonald and Mary Newell DePalma
  32. There’s a Billy Goat in the Garden by Laurel Dee Gugler and Clare Beaton
  33. World Factbook: Puerto Rico by the CIA


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How to Organize a Homeschool Year

For me, organizing our homeschooling year is one of the most interesting parts of the progress. My background includes a doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction, so you could say this sort of thing is my jam. I teach English at the collegiate level, and I always enjoy making the syllabi for my courses and thinking about how to break down the big-picture goals of the course into the weekly and daily practices. Charting a homeschool curriculum is a similar process.

I begin with the New York state regulations and break them down into the requirements for my children’s ages and grade levels.

Then, I look at the year month-by-month. Here is our rough topical schedule for 2017-2018:

First Quarter Second Quarter Third Quarter Fourth Quarter
July 2017

Geography

  • Hello Kitty, Hello USA!
  • 50 States Puzzle
  • Wee Sing America

U.S. History

  • (See Above)

Science

August 2017

Geography

  • Story of the World, 1-6

U.S. History

  • American Revolution

Science

  • Ocean Preview

September 2017

Geography

  • Story of the World, 7-12

U.S. History

  • American Revolution

Science

  • Ocean
October 2017

Geography

  • Judaism/Israel

U.S. History

Science

  • Farms/Farm Animals

November 2017

Geography

  • Story of the World, 13-18

U.S. History

Science

  • Inventions

December 2017

Geography

  • Story of the World, 19-24

U.S. History

  • Civil Rights

Science

  • Space Preview

 

January 2018

Geography

  • Story of the World, 25-30

U.S. History

Science

February 2018

Geography

  • Puerto Rico

U.S. History

Science

March 2018

Geography

  • Story of the World, 31-36

U.S. History

  • Pioneer Preview

Science

  • Trees

 

April 2018

Geography

  • Story of the World, 37-42

U.S. History

Science

May 2018

Geography

  • Explorers

U.S. History

Science

June 2018

Geography

  • Finish Story of the World

U.S. History

  • Field Trips T.B.D.

Science

  • Field Trips T.B.D.

 

 

 I do not include arithmetic, English language arts, health education, music, visual arts, or physical education on here because those are daily topics for us. This chart represents the big unit studies that I do and record on my website: phdmama—though I am woefully behind in posting what we’ve covered already!

I use the following chart to track their monthly progress, inserting brief notes and dates for my family’s usage. Since we school year-round, I review three months of these in order to write my quarterly reports. So, for instance, for our first month, I would write “September 30” and the appropriate year for the Quarterly Report due date. For the month, I would write “July,” and then in submitting the first quarterly at the end of September, I would look at the months July, August, and September. I store all of these files in a binder, one for each child. A typical entry in the chart below might look like this: “7/12—Tour of Kingston Senate House” for “United States History,” or “7/2, 7/9, 7/16, 7/23/7/30—Swimming” for “Physical Education.”

Quarterly Report Due:

Grades 1-6: 225 hours per quarter

Month:

Arithmetic  

 

 

 

 

English Language Instruction

(Reading/Spelling/Writing)

 

 

 

 

Geography  

 

 

 

United States History  

 

 

 

Science  

 

 

 

Health Education  

 

 

Music  

 

 

Visual Arts  

 

 

Physical Education  

 

 

Finally, I use a whiteboard on the refrigerator to cover the daily work expected of my children. That way, I can easily update their workload when they complete a book or we need to shake things up. Since we work year-round, I do build in breaks around holidays, visits from grandparents, and vacations, as well as the occasional day off when my kids just need it. Sometimes, though, the curriculum gets stale and the whiteboard flexibility allows me to accommodate my children’s choices and needs.

The whiteboard currently looks like this:

Kid 1 Kid 2
Monday Piano Practice, Science Experiment and Journal, 3 pages Math Workbook, Times Tables Flashcards, French Piano Practice, Science Experiment, Sight Words, 2 pages Math Workbook
Tuesday Piano Practice, Dance Class, 3 pages Math Workbook, Times Tables Flashcards, French, Handwriting Piano Practice, Dance Class, 4 pages Big Workbook, Sight Words, Handwriting
Wednesday Reading, Puzzles, Games, Crafts Reading, Puzzles, Games, Crafts
Thursday Piano Practice, Times Tables Flashcards, Magazine, 50 States Workbook or Flashcards, French Piano Practice, Sight Words, Magazine, 2 pages of Mazes, 2 pages of Number Dot-to-Dot
Friday Piano Practice, 3 pages Math Workbook, Times Tables Flashcards, French, Handwriting Piano Practice, 4 pages Big Workbook, Sight Words, Handwriting

The unit studies listed above are in addition to the daily activities and field trips. Both of my kids are bookworms who love to read and write, so at this stage, I don’t list it on most days because they do it without thinking of it as “school.” For workbooks, I like the Kumon Math Workbooks and buy the whole series for each child’s grade level. For Big Workbooks, I like the variety and coverage of the Brain Quest series. Each child uses the Bastien piano book appropriate for her abilities. The magazines are either Highlights or Ranger Rick.

All of these charts are posted in my kitchen, so the entire family knows what’s scheduled for when. We’re currently working on the final quarter of our third year of homeschooling, and, so far, this is a system that supports the structure and flexibility my family needs.


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Astronaut Adventures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We keep returning to different variations and offshoots from our original space unit, “Our Place in Space.” We’ve also done “Earth, Moon, and Stars,” but this time we focused on the folks who make space travel possible. There’s science and biography here as well as some science fiction—all with a focus on astronauts and spaceships. The image above shows the LEGO set my elder daughter got for Christmas: Women of NASA. It’s incredibly inspiring to read about the work required to make these characters’ dreams of space possible, and I have a feeling we’ll be looking to the stars in another list soon.

  1. ABC’s from Space by Adam Voiland
  2. Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon by Torben Kuhlmann
  3. Astronaut Handbook Meghan McCarthy
  4. Astronaut Scott Kelly: My Journey to the Stars by Scott Kelly and André Ceolin
  5. The Best Book of Spaceships by Ian Graham
  6. Black Stars in Orbit: NASA’s African American Astronauts by Khephra Burns and William Miles
  7. Buzz Aldrin: Reaching for the Moon by Buzz Aldrin and Wendell Minor
  8. Catstronauts: Mission Moon by Drew Brockington
  9. Eight Days Gone by Linda McReynolds and Ryan O’Rourke
  10. Footprints on the Moon by Alexandra Siy
  11. Hidden Figures Young Readers’ Edition by Margot Lee Shetterly
  12. National Geographic Little Kids’ First Big Book of Space by Catherine Hughes and David Aguilar
  13. Look to the Stars by Buzz Aldrin and Wendell Minor
  14. Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed and Stasia Burrington
  15. Mousetronaut by Astronaut Mark Kelly and C.F. Payne
  16. Mousetronaut Goes to Mars by Astronaut Mark Kelly and C.F. Payne
  17. My First Book of Space, Developed in Conjunction with NASA by Rosanna Hansen and Robert Bell
  18. Sally Ride: Life on a Mission by Sue Macy
  19. This Is the Way to the Moon by M. Sasek
  20. To the Stars! The First American Woman to Walk in Space by Carmella Van Vleet, Dr. Kathy Sullivan, and Nicole Wong
  21. Who Was Sally Ride? by Megan Stine
  22. Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Adventures by Chris Barton and Don Tate


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The Bear and the Tiger: Korean Olympic Legends

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although I am clearly delayed in posting this list, we read these stories while watching the 2018 Winter Olympics. We used the stuffies pictured above to represent the mascots for the Olympics and Paralympics. The Opening Ceremonies and events took place in and around Pyeongchang, South Korea, and these stories gave us a little bit of context for the Games. As always when we study a place, I tried to balance past and present, so some stories are myth, folklore, history, and legend, while others discuss the more contemporary elements of Korean culture. We even got to try a lot of Korean food at our Girl Scout Service Unit’s World Thinking Day event; the cookies we made for the event, and the stories we read at home, were gold-medal worthy.

  1. All about Korea: Stories, Songs, Crafts, and More by Ann Martin Bowler and Soosoonam Barg
  2. Color Crayola’s South Korean Flag
  3. Watch Families of Korea
  4. The Firekeeper’s Son by Linda Sue Park and Julie Downing
  5. The Green Frogs: A Korean Folktale retold by Yumi Heo
  6. The Korean Cinderella by Shirley Climo and Ruth Heller
  7. The Land of the Dragon King and Other Korean Stories by Gillian McClure
  8. New Clothes for New Year’s Day by Hyun-Ju Bae
  9. Peach Heaven by Yangsook Choi
  10. The Royal Bee by Frances Park, Ginger Park, and Christopher Zhong-Yuan Zhang
  11. South Korea” by Activity Village
  12. South Korea by CIA World Factbook
  13. South Korea by Jessica Rudolph
  14. Winter Olympics” by Activity Village


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Easy as 1, 2, 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re returning to these resources with my 5-year-old. The books, films, and games listed here help develop number recognition, counting skills, and an understanding of basic mathematical operations. We use these stories in conjunction with coins, clocks, and small objects so early numeracy lessons are a balance between books and more tactile experiences. All of these skills build on years of counting and clapping songs to work toward a lifetime of mathematical literacy!

  1. Watch Sesame Street’s 1 2 3 Count with Me
  2. 1-2-3 Peas by Keith Baker
  3. 12 Ways to Get to 11 by Eve Merriam and Bernie Karlin
  4. 100 Snowmen by Jen Arena and Stephen Gilpin
  5. 101 Dalmatians: A Counting Book by Fran Manushkin and Russell Hicks
  6. Anno’s Counting Book by Mitsumasa Anno
  7. Anno’s Magic Seeds by Mitsumasa Anno
  8. Watch Scholastic’s Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 and More Stories about Counting
  9. CountaBlock by Christopher Franceschelli and Peskimo
  10. Counting on Community by Innosanto Nagara
  11. Watch Sesame Street’s Counting with Elmo
  12. The Crayons’ Book of Numbers by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
  13. Play Learning Resources’ Dino Math Tracks
  14. Hello Kitty Hello Numbers! by Higashi Glaser
  15. How Much Is a Million? by David Schwartz and Steven Kellogg
  16. I Spy Numbers by Jean Marzollo and Walter Wick
  17. Mother Goose Numbers on the Loose by Leo and Diane Dillon
  18. One Moose, Twenty Mice by Clare Beaton
  19. Ten Black Dots by Donald Crews
  20. The Three Little Pigs Count to 100 by Grace Maccarone and Pistacchio
  21. Play Mattel’s UNO


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The American Revolution

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I asked my kids what they liked most about this unit, my older child couldn’t decide; she doesn’t like stories about war. My younger child answered immediately: the horses. Indeed, there are lots of horses in these stories. They and their riders, through acts of war and acts of non-martial bravery, shaped our nation. Since we live in an area rich with Revolutionary War history, we capped this unit with a visit to an historical site—Washington’s Headquarters.  There’s history and biography here to illustrate the incredible lives of our founding fathers and mothers and, of course, lots of horses.

  1. The 4th of July Story by Alice Dalgliesh and Marie Nonnast
  2. The 18 Penny Goose by Sally Walker and Ellen Beier
  3. Aaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History by Don Brown
  4. American Revolution: A Non-Fiction Companion to Revolutionary War on Wednesday by Mary Pope Osborne, Natalie Pope Bryce, and Sal Murdocca
  5. The American Revolution from A to Z by Laura Crawford and Judith Hierstein
  6. And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? by Jean Fritz and Margot Tomes
  7. The Boston Coffee Party by Doreen Rappaport and Emily Arnold McCully
  8. The Boston Tea Party by Pamela Duncan Edwards and Henry Cole
  9. Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies by Cokie Roberts and Diane Goode
  10. George the Drummer Boy by Nathaniel Benchley and Don Bolognese
  11. George vs. George: The American Revolution as Seen from Both Sides by Rosalyn Schanzer
  12. George Washington by Caroline Crosson Gilpin
  13. George Washington and the General’s Dog by Frank Murphy and Richard Walz
  14. George Washington’s Teeth by Deborah Chandra, Madeleine Comora, and Brock Cole
  15. Hanukkah at Valley Forge by Stephen Krensky and Greg Harlin
  16. Haym Salomon: American Patriot by Susan Goldman Rubin and David Slonim
  17. Henry and the Cannons by Don Brown
  18. I am George Washington by Brad Meltzer and Christopher Eliopoulos
  19. If You Lived at the Time of the American Revolution by Kay Moore and Daniel O’Leary
  20. If You Were There When They Signed the Constitution by Elizabeth Levy and Joan Holub
  21. Independence Cake by Deborah Hopkinson and Giselle Potter
  22. Independent Dames: What You Never Knew about the Women and Girls of the American Revolution by Laurie Halse Anderson and Matt Faulkner
  23. John, Paul, George, & Ben by Lane Smith
  24. Let It Begin Here! Lexington & Concord, First Battles of the American Revolution by Dennis Brindell Fradin and Larry Day
  25. Long May She Wave: The True Story of Caroline Pickersgill and Her Star-Spangled Creation by Kristen Fulton and Holly Berry
  26. Nathan Hale: Patriot Spy by Shannon Zemlicka and Craig Orback
  27. Noah Webster & His Words by Jeri Chase Ferris and Vincent X. Kirsch
  28. Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Ted Rand
  29. A Picture Book of George Washington by David Adler, John Wallner, and Alexandra Wallner
  30. A Picture Book of John and Abigail Adams by David Adler, Michael Adler, and Ronald Himler
  31. A Picture Book of Thomas Jefferson by David Adler, John Wallner, and Alexandra Wallner
  32. Phillis Sings Out Freedom: The Story of George Washington and Phillis Wheatley by Ann Malaspina and Susan Keeter
  33. Rebel with a Cause: The Daring Adventure of Dicey Langston, Girl Spy of the American Revolution by Kathleen Kudlinski and Rudy Faber
  34. Revolutionary War on Wednesday by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  35. The Ride: The Legend of Betsy Dowd by Kitty Griffin and Marjorie Priceman
  36. Sam the Minuteman by Nathaniel Benchley and Arnold Lobel
  37. A Spy Called James: The True Story of James Lafayette, Revolutionary War Double Agent by Anne Rockwell and Flyod Cooper
  38. Sybil’s Night Ride by Karen Winnick
  39. They Called Her Molly Pitcher by Anne Rockwell and Cynthia von Buhler
  40. Who Was Abigail Adams? by True Kelley and John O’Brien
  41. Who Was Betsy Ross? by James Buckley Jr. and John O’Brien
  42. Write On, Mercy! The Secret Life of Mercy Otis Warren by Gretchen Woelfle and Alexandra Wallner
  43. Yankee Doodle by Steven Kellogg