Monday, December 28, 2015

December Reading Report

November reads have been blogged! Photo is of our current read aloud. I ❤️ Nancy Drew. 🔦 Link in profile.We finished our first Christmas chapter book today. #readaloudrevival #decemberdaily
It's not Christmas if you don't Instagram your Christmas tree with bokeh effect. #decemberdaily

Merry Christmas! December has been a good month for books around these parts. : ) We jump-started our Christmas break from school on the 14th - I realized that our two wonderful breaks that we had previously taken from school had all been filled with out-of-town travel. We needed time at home to spend on our own pursuits ... and for me that means reading! I managed to make the most of it!

Quite of few of the books that I wrapped up were on my Kindle. I have been absolutely loving checking out books electronically from the library ... I get an email when they are available, and an email when I have about three days to finish before they disappear from my device. It's definitely helped me finish them before time is up and they are returned.

This month I finished:
  • Connected by Erin Davis. A good (short) read on being connected and in community with one another. FYI, $2.99 on Kindle right now.
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyers, Book 1 in The Lunar Chronicles. I predict this will be the next Hunger Games to be made in to a blockbuster movie series. I LOVED this book. Science fiction, cyborgs, and very clean. Could not put this one down until I finished it!
  • The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene. We finished this read aloud right at the beginning of the month. The girls enjoyed it but Nancy is not the best for reading aloud!
  • The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson. Our December / Christmas read-aloud. This was a quick read (took us a week maybe).
  • For the Love by Jen Hatmaker. One I read on Kindle from the library - I loved it so much I asked for it for Christmas. It might not strike everyone, but it's message of grace for ourselves and others was one that I needed to hear. And, oh my word, is she a funny writer. 
  • Pray Write Grow by Ed Cyzewski. An interesting book on how writing and prayer are tied together. 
  • Keeping House: A Litany of Everyday Life by Margaret Kim Peterson. December and January is always a good time to read a book on homemaking and housecleaning as I have an urge to purge all the things. This was a wonderful book encouraging me to keep on keeping on when faced with the endless meals, laundry and messes multiplied because of our homeschooling lifestyle!
  • The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope. I read this for the last book of the year for the Reading to Know bookclub. Thoroughly enjoyed this little historical fiction story with a little bit of a ghost story tied to it and glad I read it. My 12 year old would probably enjoy this as well!
  • Scarlet by Marissa Meyers, Book 2 in The Lunar Chronicles. Again, just as engrossing as the first book!

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Right now I'm reading Switch by Ingrid Law. After that, I'm going to be taking a look at my shelves and see what I can pull from around here. I've set a slight challenge for myself for the next several months to read what is on my shelves, my Kindle, or what I can check out at the library. And, I'm trying to stick with books that are not recent releases (though I'm sure there will be the departure from this rule now and again). With a few exceptions (Cinder and Scarlet come to mind!), most of the new fiction that I have seen and picked up on various online and blog recommendations was very disappointing so I'm going to stick with older works that I've not read as well as try and read those books I've stacked up to get to "at some point" and make that point sooner rather than later! 

Any old gems that I should consider adding to my lists? Any New Year's reading resolutions of your own?

Thursday, December 03, 2015

First Semester Circle Time

08'11'2015a

I haven't written much (if at all) this fall about our homeschool beyond the occasional read-aloud post here and there. Some of that is intentional ... as my girls get older I wonder what to share. And some is unintentional ... there aren't enough hours in the day (and when I do have extra hours, I use them to catch up on episodes of Once Upon a Time because I was sucked into that rabbit hole this fall. Ahem.)

I feel like I'm also at a crossroads with this little blog of mine. When I started writing on it many moons ago, it was a LOT of memory keeping, photos of cute little girls (and eventually a boy), scrapbook / craftiness, etc. I'm not really sure what to do with this space now. I do miss writing. I keep up with our family scrapbooks (a la Project Life), but the daily documenting with photos was something I truly enjoyed. Again, walking this out with girls that are getting older and wanting to respect their privacy. I've thought very seriously about wrapping this space up and stick to my social media of choice, but occasionally I do have the urge to tell a longer tale. Basically, I'm either thinking about this too much or not enough. : )

Anyway, I thought I would stick my toe back in the water of homeschool posts with one about our fall semester circle time. Over the course of last year, I heard a blog post or a podcast about looping your subjects thanks to Sarah Mackenzie and Pam Barnhill. One of the things that I consistently would struggle with in our years of school is getting behind in one or another subject because I scheduled them by day. For example, history on Monday and Wednesday, science on Wednesday and Fridays. I would find myself stuck because I would tend to schedule doctor or orthodontist appointments on the same day whenever they would come up and that would put us behind in that subject (and it was usually on science day). I decided that looking our schedule couldn't hurt - any improvement was better than none.

It's been such a good choice for our schooling this year! I have two main loops that we do every day that we are home. (We average three, sometimes four, good mornings a week at home). We have two loops as part of our morning read-alouds. Our schedule generally looks like:

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That's a lot of reading that I'm getting through, but when it comes down to it, I'm reading only three things each morning. So much more doable and we are making significant progress in each book! Not as much as we do in our after-lunch read-aloud when we plug steadily along with one book until it's done, but I'm finding that rotating through each book about every three days is just enough time for the books to stay fresh and the kids not remember where we left off the last time.

Anyway, if you have heard of looping (or not), it's worked really well for us and I'd recommend it if you find yourselves falling behind in one subject. Science has always been my nemesis but as of December 3, we've now finished our fourth chapter in our mammals book and I like that feeling.