Friday, August 31, 2012

Military Enthusiasts - Save the Date

September 8-9, the Little Rock Air Force Base will host its bi-annual air show and open house.  The famous Blue Angels will be there!!  And, it's all FREE.

I cannot speak for the Little Rock show, but our family went to an air show in Phoenix a few years ago - and it remains one of our all-time favorite family outings.  (And I was skeptical.)

Needless to say, it is on our calendar for next weekend.

Here's a Blue Angels video to whet your appetite:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Story of Thomas Edison

We downloaded this 94-page e-book from Simply Charlotte Mason.  They will also ship a paper copy.  From their site:

  • Interesting and inspiringThe Story of Thomas A. Edison paints a living picture of Edison that follows his life from “train boy” to newspaper publisher to telegraph operator to world-famous inventor.
  • Excellent for all ages—The narrative is engaging enough for adults and readable for younger children, so you can enjoy the story all together as a family.
  • Expanded edition—Enhance your study of Edison with the addition of original patent sketches, the patents themselves, and pages from his personal diary—all included in this expanded edition. Notes are scattered throughout the collection to highlight interesting points.
  • -Julie

    PS - There is a similar, cheaper, Kindle version on Amazon - though missing the appendix of Edison’s patents, patent sketches, and pages from his diary. 

    Children's Book: Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of Empire America

    Though written for ages 8 and up, there is much to be gained for the adult who reads this book.  My husband is an avid Theodore Roosevelt fan - scratch that, TR is a true hero in our home.  The two men even share a birthday!  Hubby is a bibliophile and probably bought this book (I'd never seen it before today on our bookshelf).  But enough about my man, let me tell you about the book.

    If you are a collector of books, this could be one for your shelf.  It is "painstakingly written and illustrated by Cheryl Harness" who has written and/or illustrated 35 other books for children, including 6 other picture-book biographies for National Geographic.  The images of this book were drawn with a steel pen dipped in a bottle of India ink, like many artists did in the days of TR.

    I like that the words are simple enough for a third grader (and explains in parenthesis potential unfamiliar words like abolitionists) yet paced quick enough that in short snippets, the book could be read aloud to a younger audience.  Along the bottom of most pages runs a timeline.  Running the gamut of his life, the book begins with TR's birth.  In the beginning pages we learn about the Lincoln/Douglas debates as well as the Pony Express.

    This book can be found in the Central Arkansas Library System.  For a list of books by Cheryl Harness (quickly becoming one of my favorite children's authors), you can start here.


    Monday, August 27, 2012

    Civil War links

    I realize I'm about a week late here, but in case you're wanting to extend your study of the civil war, PBS has a section dedicated to their series on The Civil War--with an entire section for the classroom. So does Scholastic--and one on the Underground Railroad and slavery.

    Thursday, August 23, 2012

    Calif. Coast Sees Increase in Whale Sightings

    Kristan Hodges wrote with this tip:

    I just ran across this news story (with videos) about whales off the California coast. Thought some other moms might be interested in it, too. We haven't watched the videos yet...

    History Channel Civil War videos

    We're privileged to own the History Channel's America: The Story of Us DVD series, and my older kids find it fascinating. Their portion on the Civil War can be accessed online in segments beginning here.

    Typically, the History Channel's videos have what I would dub a PG-level of violence: a gun being shot and a person falling back, for example, but little to no blood. This particular Civil War portion was a little more graphic than most due to the discussion on the Minie Ball, subjects like amputation, etc. (It was, after all, a war.) Be aware. But my oldest found it intriguing, and it certainly helped to bring all the pieces together. Perhaps some of the lesser violent portions, like Lincoln's War Machine  would be more acceptable to younger or more sensitive viewers (it's expensive for me to stream video where I live, so please view it for your own discretionary purposes).

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

    Children's Theatre

    Last year for my son's seventh birthday, we asked the grandparents to get tickets to the Children's Theatre. (Instead of another loud, obnoxious toy that I would have to repeatedly pick up and eventually throw away.)

    We thoroughly enjoyed every play.  After the second (or was it third?) production, my son said, "This is one of the best birthday presents, ever!"  And I think he meant it - because it was the gift that kept on giving.  It was something he could look forward to, about once a month, and an opportunity to spend one-on-one time with a parent.  (Hubby and I took turns going with him.)

    As an adult, I enjoyed every production.  My dad recently emailed to ask for birthday hints and I told him that we would really like another subscription to the theatre.

    You don't have to purchase a package.  You can buy individual tickets.  Or, you can get a package of two tickets and two different family members can go each time.


    Tuesday, August 21, 2012

    Chasing Lincoln's Killer

    Here are two more Civil War era books.  These two we love so much we've added to our personal library.

    Chasing Lincoln's Killer is a kid-friendly version of the book Manhunt (also highly recommended.)  Both books read like murder mystery novels, even though I know what happened!  It's a true page turner!

    From Publishers Weekly

    Starred Review. The YA version of Swanson's bestselling Manhunt, this account of Lincoln's assassination and the 12-day search for his killer reads like a historical thriller, no matter that the narrative jumps among its locations and characters. As President Lincoln delivers victory speeches in April 1865, an enraged John Wilkes Booth vows death: "Now, by God, I'll put him through." Every bit of dialogue is said to come from original sources, adding a chill to the already disturbing conspiracy that Swanson unfolds in detail as Booth persuades friends and sympathizers to join his plot and later, to give him shelter. The author gives even the well-known murder scene at Ford's Theatre enough dramatic flourish to make the subject seem fresh. While Lincoln lays dying, Booth's accomplices clumsily attempt to kill Secretary of State William H. Seward, and Booth talks his way past a guard meant to bar him from crossing a bridge into Maryland. In focusing on Booth, the author reveals the depth of divisions in the nation just after the war, the disorder within the government and the challenges ahead. Abundant period photographs and documents enhance the book's immediacy. Ages 12–up. (Feb.)
    Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

    Iron Thunder by Avi

    Last year my husband snagged this book at the library and read it aloud to our son.  Overhearing parts of it, I was hooked and read it once they were finished.

    It is written from the perspective of a 13 year old boy whose father was killed in the Civil War.  Destitute, the boy finds work in the Yankee ship yard - becoming a part of history - working on the Monitor, a ship made of iron.  One day, this ship will fight its Confederate counterpart, the Merrimac.  Will the boy be on board?

    Look for this book at the library or on Amazon.

    Memory Work Review Crossword, Week 3

    You can download it here. Constructed on

    Cool Ocean Videos

    Erin Lewis sent the link to these ocean videos and said:

    I thought the footage was excellent.  A couple of the videos I previewed would start over halfway through, but I could get them to finish by fiddling with the progress bar.

    Free Civil War Lapbook

    It's a big one, and it's here on If you're not familiar with lapbooks, a lapbook is generally mounted in a manila folder, as a sort of "learning scrapbook" about a subject--often with 3-D components like pockets, accordion-pleated booklets, etc. My kids love them. (Here in Uganda, where I can't easily access manila folders, we actually use dismantled cereal boxes with the picture side covered in paper!)

     Homeschool Share is the king, in my limited exposure, of free lapbooks on subjects from character to science to history to literature to social studies. They've got a lot that will work with our science curriculum this year: whales, coral reefs, mollusks... Worth checking out.

    Monday, August 20, 2012

    This week's science fact

    Although it's already been set to rhythm in our notebook, you can sing our science fact this week to the tune of "London Bridges":

    Scientists classify all living things
    into a multi-level
    classification system:
    kingdom, phylum, class, or-der,

    My kids and I decided to go ahead and play "London Bridges" while singing this song, and loved that we caught someone whenever we sang "species!"

    With my kids' energy me. You grasp every little chance to get 'em moving.

    Friday, August 17, 2012

    For the Littles

    My daughter is a bit older than 2 years*.  Usually she is good as gold but there's only so much I can expect of her when I'm sitting at the table for hours with big brother.  I'm always on the look out for ways to entertain the little people.

    A spray bottle filled with water bought us some time.  Actually, it is one of her favorite toys.  Any kind of Windex bottle will do (of course empty the cleaning solutions first!).

    We have several spray bottles but her favorite is this one because it has an adjustable nozzle for stream or spray.
    Don't tell her that I love that she is building her fine motor skills.

    *This toy has been approved and loved by children of all ages.  Brother, who is almost 8, also likes to fight over play with the spray bottles.

    Thursday, August 16, 2012

    More Movie Info

    Ashley, after yesterday's movie mention, wrote to say this:

    Might want to take that post down on Comm Central Creatively.  Started the movie with my son, and there is some questionable language...(fornicate, asses, etc.) Thought it was rated PG but turns out to be PG-13. 

    Wednesday, August 15, 2012

    The Charge of the Light Brigade

    Ashley Hooten gave us this tip:

    For netflix subscribers, there is a 1968 movie, "The Charge of the Light Brigade," that might be interesting.  Haven't watched it yet, but have it on our instant queue.

    Memory Work Review Crossword, week 2

    You can download it here. (Thanks to!)

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012