phd mama

from diapers to deconstruction


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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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Inventors and Inventions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While we enjoyed the stories of specific inventions and inventors (the paper bag particularly stuck with my kids), one of the most interesting parts of this study was the process. Even in the fantastical accounts of inventing, the inventors had to work through the scientific method, endure failures, and recover from setbacks on the way to making amazing things. The stories below include biography, history, science, and fiction, but they all emphasize the importance of persistence in problem solving.

  1. Watch The Absent-Minded Professor
  2. All Aboard! Elijah McCoy’s Steam Engine by Monica Kulling and Bill Slavin
  3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake
  4. Watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  5. Watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
  6. Eat My Dust! Henry Ford’s First Race by Monica Kulling and Richard Walz
  7. Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by Robert Byrd
  8. Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmeah and Melissa Sweet
  9. How Nearly Everything Was Invented by the Brainwaves
  10. Incredible Inventions poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach
  11. Invention by DK Eyewitness
  12. The Inventor’s Secret: What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford by Suzanne Slade and Jennifer Black Reinhardt
  13. In the Bag! Margaret Knight Wraps It Up by Monica Kulling and David Parkins
  14. Inventor McGregor by Kathleen Pelley and Michael Chesworth
  15. Leonardo and the Flying Boy: A Story about Leonardo Da Vinci by Laurence Anholt
  16. Listen Up! Alexander Graham Bell’s Talking Machine by Monica Kulling and Richard Walz
  17. Mad Margaret Experiments with the Scientific Method by Eric Braun and Robin Boyden
  18. Play Hasbro’s Mousetrap
  19. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis and Gilbert Ford
  20. Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci by Gener Barretta
  21. Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Barretta
  22. Oh, the Things They Invented! All About Great Inventors by Bonnie Worth, Aristides Ruiz, and Joe Mathieu
  23. Papa’s Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming and Boris Kulikov
  24. Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy
  25. Watch Robots
  26. Robots, Robots, Everywhere! by Sue Fliess and Bob Staake
  27. Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts
  28. Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen
  29. Wendel’s Workshop by Chris Riddell
  30. Watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory


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Living History in Plimoth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For one of American history units, I framed our travel to Plymouth, Massachusetts and our visit to Plimoth Plantation’s museum with literature about the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag. This list includes stories about the Mayflower and the First Thanksgiving, but I’ve also strived to move beyond the ubiquitous narratives; in particular, I wanted to emphasize the rich cultural tradition of the Wampanoag people before colonialism and the continuation of that tradition through the present day. This list includes descriptions of the Mayflower voyage; details about the Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving; and history, legends, biographies, and contemporary accounts of the Wampanoag. These selections highlight the complexity of living history.

  1. Across the Wide dark Sea: The Mayflower Journey by Jean Van Leeuwen and Thomas B. Allen
  2. The Children of the Morning Light: Wampanoag Tales by Manitonquat and Mary F. Arquette
  3. Clambake: A Wampanoag Tradition by Russell Peters and John Madama
  4. Flying with the Eagle, Racing the Great Bear: Stories from Native North America by Joseph Bruchac
  5. If You Lived at the Time of Squanto by Anne Kamma and Pamela Johnson
  6. If You Were at the First Thanksgiving by Anne Kamma and Bert Dodson
  7. The Mayflower by Mark Greenwood and Frané Lessac
  8. Native Peoples of the Northeast by Barbara Linde
  9. North American Indian by David Murdoch
  10. On the Mayflower by Kate Waters and Russ Kendall
  11. People of the Breaking Day by Marcia Sewall
  12. The People Shall Continue by Simon Ortiz and Sharol Graves
  13. Pilgrims: Fact Tracker by Mary Pope Osborne Natalie Pope Boyce and Sal Murdocca
  14. The Pilgrims of Plimoth by Susan E. Goodman
  15. The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving by Ann McGovern and Elroy Freem
  16. The Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving from A to Z by Laura Crawford and Judith Hierstein
  17. Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy by Kate Waters and Russ Kendall
  18. Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl by Kate Waters and Russ Kendall
  19. Spotlight on Native Americans: Wampanoag by Joseph Stanley
  20. Squanto: 1585?-1622 by Arlene Hirschfelder
  21. Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac and Greg Shed
  22. The Story of the Pilgrims by Katharine Ross and Carolyn Croll
  23. Tapenum’s Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times by Kate Waters and Russ Kendall
  24. Thanksgiving on Thursday by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  25. The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh and Helen Sewell
  26. Thank you, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson and Matt Faulkner
  27. This is the Feast by Diane Shore and Megan Lloyd
  28. Thunder from the Clear Sky by Marcia Sewall
  29. The Very First Thanksgiving Day by Rhonda Gowler Greene and Susan Gaber
  30. Wampanoag by Barbara Gray-Kanatiiosh
  31. The Wampanoag: The People of the First Light by Janet Riehecky
  32. The Wampanoag and Their History by Natalie M. Rosinsky


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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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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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A List for the Lady with the Lamp

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My girls first learned about Florence Nightingale from a Doc McStuffins episode (listed below), and were delighted to learn that she was a real person. While a lot of the materials below cover the same basic information, it was interesting for us to see each new perspective on an amazing woman’s story. We learned about her life as well as about conditions for nurses, women, doctors, patients, soldiers, and citizens of the nineteenth century. We came away with appreciation and understanding for her dedicated service and sense of vocation, and we’re glad to know that, to this day, the lady with the lamp still shines brightly.

  1. Watch The Animated Hero Classics: Florence Nightingale
  2. Watch The Best of Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Volume 1
  3. Watch Doc McStuffins’ Let the Nightingale Sing
  4. Florence Nightingale by Carol Alexander
  5. Florence Nightingale by Demi
  6. Florence Nightingale by Lucy Lethbridge and Karen Donnelly
  7. Florence Nightingale by Shannon Zemlicka and Nicolas Debon
  8. Girls Who Rocked the World: Heroines from Joan of Arc to Mother Teresa by Michelle Roehm McCann and Amelie Welden
  9. Heart and Soul: The Story of Florence Nightingale by Gena K. Gorrell
  10. High Time for Heroes by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  11. A Picture Book of Florence Nightingale by David A. Adler, John Wallner, and Alexandra Wallner


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It’s Electric!

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Our unit study on electricity included experiments, reference books, fiction, and scientific biographies. We looked at amazing moments in the history of science and marveled at the ways that electricity transforms our lives. My elder daughter especially loved playing with the Snap Circuits, and these resources changed the way we all appreciate and understand the electricity that flows through our home. We attended a local library program on Squishy Circuits where we learned about conductivity. And, of course, we discussed electrical safety (no kite flying in thunderstorms for us!). I hope this list of resources charges you up just as much for studying electricity!

  1. Watch The Animated Hero Classics: Benjamin Franklin
  2. Batteries, Bulbs, and Wires by David Glover
  3. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer, and Elizabeth Zunon
  4. Charged Up: The Story of Electricity by Jacqui Bailey and Matthew Lilly
  5. Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World by Elizabeth Rusch and Oliver Dominguez
  6. Energy Makes Things Happen by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and Paul Meisel
  7. DK’s First Science Encyclopedia
  8. How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning by Rosalyn Schanzer
  9. Jackrabbit McCabe and the Electric Telegraph by Lucy Margaret Rozier and Leo Espinosa
  10. The Magic School Bus and the Electric Field Trip by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen
  11. My Light by Molly Bang
  12. Oscar and the Bird: A Book about Electricity by Geoff Waring
  13. Watch Popular Mechanics for Kids: Lightning and Other Forces of Nature
  14. Watch Disney’s Safety Smart Science with Bill Nye the Science Guy: Electricity
  15. Watch Disney’s The Science of Disney Imagineering: Electricity
  16. Experiment with Snap Circuits
  17. Switch On, Switch Off by Melvin Berger and Carolyn Croll
  18. Thomas Edison by Barbara Kramer
  19. Who Was Ben Franklin? by Dennis Brindell Fradin and John O’Brien
  20. Who Was Thomas Alva Edison? by Margaret Frith and John O’Brien