Tag Archives: children’s books

Harry Potter Art

Sometimes the stars align, the sibling squabbles cease, and everyone is content to do the same thing at the same time. It didn’t hurt that the topic was Harry Potter. This beloved fantasy series ignites all sorts of childhood (and adult) interest. So it was no surprise that we all did some Harry Potter art for a friend’s upcoming birthday party.

A little rummaging in the “card-making box” and R unearthed some Harry Potter stickers.

Hogwarts Castle

A few days before the party I asked the kids what type of card they wanted to make for their friend. Did they want to try and draw something? a castle? Harry? a house-elf?

My youngest son, recently into all artistic endeavors, decided that he would like to draw a castle. Hmm…okay. Would you like to find a reference picture or maybe a YouTube video?

“Definitely a YouTube video of Hogwarts,” he said. So, we did.

C (age 7) watched a line drawing of a YouTube video and made this drawing.

After he finished, we took it to the copier, shrunk it down and created a card for the birthday girl. Meanwhile, my oldest son started free drawing and came up with a respectable looking castle. Apparently, all of those Mark Kistler drawing lessons have been paying off!

C’s shrunken drawing becomes the front of a card while R’s hand-drawn castle is the start of his magical world.

More Harry Potter Art

While they continued to add more and more stickers to their cards, I was working on my gesture sketches. I haven’t drawn a lot of people, but have recently been working my way through a Craftsy class on drawing children for children’s book. I took this opportunity to quickly sketch Harry and the sorting hat.

R incorporated his stickers to become part of a wizard’s home, while I practiced rough sketching Harry Potter at the sorting.

All told – we spent hours drawing, playing and talking about Harry Potter. I’m glad I let myself relax and enjoy the afternoon doing some art with my boys. I know they liked it too.

 

Montessori Sensorial – Sense of Smell

In an effort to utilize my librarian background, I am embarking on a series of book reviews, to be published on Fridays. These reviews will cover science education books for and about children, as well as reality-based children’s books for a Montessori lifestyle.

This picture shows the front cover of the book, The Nose Knows.

A short book with a simple story that focuses on the power of smell.

Oh, how I have sadly neglected my ongoing series of reality-based children’s books for a Montessori lifestyle. I would like to make excuses, but the truth is that I spend most of my days creating, crafting and devising lesson plans that have little or nothing to do with a primary Montessori education.

My boys are ten and almost seven-years-old. We still read to them…though not every night. They are both solid readers. They love books and learning and they both have large vocabularies. I directly attribute their knowledge to the vocabulary-building, reality-based books that we read to them when they were young.

These days our library bags are often filled with chapter books and large piles of non-fiction materials. I don’t check out as many picture books as I used to, but I will continue to write and speak about my experiences as a Montessori-certified teacher. I have learned so much from her teaching and writings, not to mention my direct experiences of using her methods and well-designed materials. While I agree that no one method of education can meet the needs of every child, the Montessori way of ‘teaching’ is the perfect response to the current practice of drills, tests, and arbitrary grading policies that our schools use to ‘teach’ students. (Hint: Montessori doesn’t grade students).

Is it obvious that I am a Montessori advocate?

I believe in the power of a true Montessori education and will continue to spread the word about the Montessori philosophy. I still have a lot of Montessori-inspired projects that I would like to carry out, but in the meantime, I will continue to focus on technology, art and handwork. Montessori inspires me every day and I hope that you enjoy the reality-based picture books featured here.

This week, I am showcasing books that deal with our olfactory sense. In other words, our sense of smell. I have previously discussed many of the different Sensorial topics (colors I, colors II, systems, shapes & solids, visual training, and auditory). Dr. Montessori found that children’s senses were especially sensitive during the years between three and six. The following books contain stories (and rich vocabulary) that are based in reality. No talking animals and no imaginary characters. Under the age of six, children are deciphering the world around them and need help in determining what is real and what is fantasy.

Montessori Sensorial – Sense of Smell

Ages 2 – 6
Sias, Ryan. Sniff! Sniff! Abrams Appleseed: New York, 2015.

With very few words, this book manages to convey a dog’s strong sense of smell. A cartoon-like brown dog wakes up and the words “sniff, sniff” appear over his head. Suddenly, pictures of bacon, pancakes and oranges appear as thought bubbles. He runs downstairs to discover the human’s breakfast table, and proceeds to jump all over it and devour the food. Despite the dog’s bad manners, this cute book continues to feature his keen sense of smell as it takes him (and his owner) on many adventures throughout the day.

This is a picture of a dog running down the stairs as he has thought bubbles of bacon, oranges and pancakes.

Written by Ryan Sias

Ages 4 and up
Weiss, Ellen. The Nose Knows. Illustrated by Margeaux Lucas. The Kane Press: New York, 2002.

Peter is the oldest child in his family of five. His parents, brother and sister are sick with colds (and stuffy noses) so Peter becomes the family’s ‘nose.’ He helps around the house by getting rid of the stinky items, such as the old orange juice, decaying flowers and some rotting broccoli that his younger brother shoved in the back of his closet. Peter also saves the family by smelling ‘rotten eggs’ in the kitchen. The pilot light on their gas stove had gone out and the parents didn’t know. Throughout the book there are side notes about how our nose (and sense of smell) functions. Eventually, Peter gets the family’s cold, but everyone takes care of him.

This is a picture of a boy taking away a glass of orange juice from his younger sister. The orange juice has gone bad.

The Nose Knows by Ellen Weiss.

Ages 4 and up
Lin, Grace. The Ugly Vegetables. Charlesbridge Publishing: Watertown, MA, 1999.

Young Grace and her mother are preparing their garden for planting. As they turn over the soil, she notices that all of the other neighbors are planting gardens too – except that their gardens will be full of flowers while Grace’s will grow Chinese vegetables. Grace wants to grow flowers too, until one day she detects a delicious smell coming from her house! Her mother is making a delicious soup with all of the vegetables from their garden. There’s a knock on the door and all of her neighbors have brought flowers to share – in hopes of tasting the good-smelling soup. Grace’s mother passes out the soup and gives the recipe to her friends. The following year, all of the neighbors are growing some Chinese vegetables, and Grace gets to grow a few flowers as well.

This is a picture of the front cover of the book, The Ugly Vegetables, written by Grace Lin. It has a picture of a Chinese mom and girl digging a garden.

Written and illustrated by Grace Lin.

Although I didn’t have a chance to review them, these two books seem like they might work for a Montessori lifestyle: Mo Smells the Holidays (about a dog’s powerful nose), and perhaps, Smelly Socks by Robert Munsch.

And, of course, these books would be especially memorable if paired with a group cooking activity. Grace’s soup, anyone?

 

Books Books Books

Our regular installment of ‘The Brick Chronicles‘ has been interrupted this week by too many books. Books books and more books! Quite frankly, we always have a lot of books around the house – ours and a large quantity from our local library system.

However, this past week the grandparents came into town and the legos were cleaned up. As if to say, of course our house is always this neat and tidy! Regardless, the boys have been enjoying their clean space and seem hesitant to mess it up (which I’m sure will not last much longer). That means our piles of books have been beckoning, practically begging us to get through them so we can get a new stack.

Books Books Books from the Library — Liz’s Collection

Picture of a stack of craft and sewing booksMy husband and I had a rare afternoon – by ourselves – and we happened to be near our large, downtown library. It was like being in a bookstore, except I got to take all of the books home! I have to return them, but I’m happy to have them for a short while.

Books Books Books on Lego Mindstorms EV3

Picture of two lego mindstorms ev3 booksWe own these two books, plus the EV3 Guide I printed out. I’ve been using these for the last few months in preparation for a “Bring Your Own Mindstorms” Clinic I plan to offer this summer. My oldest son is my tester and we’ve finally reached the stage where we are using these books mostly for reference. It also means I’m teaching him how to use a book index – without having to create an entire lesson on it.

Books Books Books on Acrylic Painting for Beginners

A picture of books on acrylic paintingI’m still mentally and physically prototyping for an upcoming summer camp I will be co-leading. We’ll be focusing on making our own props for a stop-motion animation movie and my painting skills need a little work. The whole idea of using complimentary colors for shading is complex…but fascinating. It’s work I really enjoy.

Books Books Books from the Library — 10-year-old’s shelf

Picture of books on a shelfHe’s taking a brief hiatus from too many “fluffy” books, but it hasn’t seemed to hamper his library checkouts. That boy has a lot of interests and the non-fiction section of the library can be a pretty cool place.

Books Books Books from the Library — 6-year-old’s Shelf

Picture of books and DVDs on a shelfOkay, so that book on growing fruit trees is mine, as is the one from Rick Riordan, but the rest are his. Oddly enough, I see none of his Magic Treehouse books and only a few of Nate the Great. Most likely, the rest are in a pile on his bed. Bedtime reading is very popular.

Books Books Books on the Montessori Method

Picture of a stack of three montessori booksWith my background in Montessori education, I love to pull out my well-read books on her method. Even though I don’t currently teach in a Montessori school, I use her philosophy daily – with my own children, with the kids in my summer camp and with any lessons that I create. Can the kids do it themselves or teach each other? How can I be a good facilitator? I’ve been missing my Montessori roots lately, and I’m ready to get back to my Sensorial book review series. I’ve been brushing up on my content and reaffirming my belief that the Montessori Method is amazing. Hopefully, you also have a nice stack of books to get through. Happy reading!

This is My Home, This is My School.

In an effort to utilize my librarian background, I am embarking on a series of book reviews, to be published on Fridays. These reviews will cover science education books for and about children, as well as reality-based children’s books for a Montessori lifestyle.

Picture of cover of the book, This is My Home, This is My School

Written by Jonathan Bean, a grown-up homeschooled student!

Ages 3 and up
Bean, Jonathan. This is My Home, This is My School. Farrar, Straus & Giroux: New York, 2015.

We love Bean’s other book, Building Our House, so when I noticed he had another book coming out, I immediately placed it on hold at our local library. Then, I heard that it was about a homeschooling family. Can you guess how excited I was? Most homeschooling books are written by adults for homeschooling parents, the notable exception being the Teen Liberation Handbook, which is intended for teenagers (and has some extreme viewpoints). Honestly, I can’t think of any mainstream children’s book that features a homeschooler. That alone would merit a more favorable review, but Bean needs no extra help. His book can stand on its own. It’s that good.

This is My School

We love this author-illustrator and my kids love that he is a former homeschooler. Even if you aren’t a homeschooler, you will love this sweet story about a family living and learning at home…and in the stream…and out in the world. This is My Home, This is My School offers simple sentences and funny pictures, so it’s perfect for a short attention span. The watercolor illustrations add much to the story and we spent extra time looking over each scene. Homeschooling parents will appreciate the messy house and the overwhelmed teacher-mom jokes, while kids will see the gigantic backyard and wish they had one too.

Picture of treehouse from the book, This is My Home, This is My School

A picture of their “playground” – a fabulous treehouse where the author, presumably, grew up.

The story begins with Jonathan who is describing his home (which we saw built in This is Our House), and then telling the readers that this is also his school. With short descriptions and lots of bright and vivid illustrations, the readers see how Jonathan and his sisters learn at home. Sometimes they sit at the table and do paperwork – just like in traditional school. But, sometimes, they are off in the pond, collecting specimens and learning about science. Sometimes they are reading in bed and that counts for literature class. Occasionally, their teacher is frustrated, angry and worn down – just like in traditional school! But, always, there is learning and love and a strong conviction that this is the right path for Jonathan and his family.

Picture from Jonathan Bean's This is My Home, This is My School.

Picture from Jonathan Bean’s This is My Home, This is My School.

Just like in This is Our House, at the end of the book there are old family photographs of Jonathan and his sisters. Although I love his picture books (and so do my boys), I think I love these family tidbits the most. The homeschooling parent in me appreciates the obvious love and joy he had growing up as a homesteading homeschooler. It’s just a little affirmation in support of a not-so-uncommon life path. Homeschooling does work and it can be successful and joyful.

 

 

Book Report :: A Visual-Spatial Experience

My children are my greatest teachers.

I could go on (and on and on) about how much I have grown mentally, spiritually, and physically just by being their mother. But, I have also grown as a teacher because I am able to observe them closely and watch how they learn. Because it’s different than the way I learn.

He prefers a cluttered desk - whereas I can't stand it!

He prefers a cluttered desk – whereas I can’t stand it!

My older son has given me permission to share his work on this blog and I hope that it will help other visual-spatial learners.

A little background to his relationship with writing – he hated to write as a young boy. Asking him to write anything was tantamount to watching a volcano erupt. Lots of rumbling and growling before a full-blown explosion occurred out of sheer frustration. He was frustrated that it didn’t look perfect. He was frustrated that it hurt his hand (he pushed really hard on his pencil). He was frustrated that he didn’t know how to spell anything and that would block his thoughts.

So, this was one thing I let go. I didn’t push it and I hoped that by the time he hit middle school many of these issues would be resolved. Plus, we’ve always written thank you notes and homemade birthday cards, so it wasn’t as if I never asked him to write anything. But in the last year, something clicked for him.

He discovered the value of writing fluently and his resistance has lessened. Maybe the muscles in his hand are further developed, or perhaps he isn’t struggling with spelling as much (to which I attribute his extraordinary love of reading). I’m not sure why the time is right, but it is. He has unconsciously decided to communicate more in the written form.

His first draft - which he went back through with a red marker and marked his needed corrections.

His first draft – which he went back through and marked potential corrections.

In fact, the idea of a book report was his idea – spurred on by some outside events. Since 2003, I have been part of a book club of friends. Each month, we rotate houses to host the group. This month was my turn to host – and to choose the book. I chose The Lightening Thief . My kids and I have been studying ancient history in our Story of the World (SOTW) curriculum and we’re taking a deeper look at the Greek myths in the coming weeks . Plus, a juvenile book is always a good choice for our busy, mom-filled book club.

Well, my son was ecstatic. He read the book before I did and he mentioned that he wanted to give a report at the book club. I told him he could write a book report, to which he responded, “Huh? What’s a book report?” So, I proceeded to tell him and he accepted the challenge.

Visual-Spatial book report. First step is to make a story map. We broke ours down by color - yellow was for the setting and time; blue, green and red represented the beginning, middle and end of the story.

Visual-Spatial book report. The first step is to make a story map. We broke ours down by color – yellow was for the setting and time; whereas blue, green and red represented the beginning, middle and end of the story.

The project was a bit overwhelming, so I suggested that he make a word map of what happened in the story. He’s very used to this concept since this how we talk about each chapter of SOTW. He found this to be fun and relatively easy. I prompted him when he got stuck.

When it came to writing the actual report, you could see the terror come into his eyes, so I found a way to break down the map: colors. We went online and found this easy “how to write a book report” web site and broke down the report into three main categories. He chose the colors and I circled the setting and character ideas using a yellow marker.

Then, he chose blue and decided what was significant to the beginning of the story. Next, came green for the middle part and finally, a red marker for the end of the story. Some of the ideas didn’t quite fit into one category so they got two colors.

Some simple writing reminders - capitalize the beginning of each sentence!

Some simple writing reminders – capitalize the beginning of each sentence!

After a bit of grumbling, he got down to writing and came to show me his work. He was so proud of himself (and I was too), so I praised his hard work. Then, he went over it (on his own) and followed the above editing rules. That way, I wasn’t marking up his work – he was. And, for him that makes all the difference. He went over his draft and capitalized the start of every sentence, proper noun and circled his suspected misspellings. Then, we fixed it together.

IMG_1731

I wrote down the correct spelling for the words he didn’t know.

Over the course of three days, he made a story map, wrote a first draft, edited his work and rewrote the final version of his book report. Last month, I introduced the concept of a first draft when he wrote a thank you note to a city official (as part of his city project). I’ve also set the expectation that your first draft is for creative ideas, and then you go back and fix the grammar, spelling and sentence structure. My favorite explanation for this process can be found here.

But, the best part of this whole project? He instigated it. Would he be as proud if I had demanded it? Probably not. Of course, he’s at this point because we have incorporated tiny real-world writings into our weekly routine. He’s also a voracious reader who doesn’t equate reading with writing. And, we all know that in order to be a great writer, you have to be a prolific reader.

Book report on The Lightning Thief

Final book report on The Lightning Thief

 

App Review :: Reading Rainbow’s Skybrary

Besides certain programming apps, there are only a few apps with a lot of staying power at our house. The app by Reading Rainbow happens to be one of them. I am not endorsed by them – I just happen to love this app and want to share why.

My boys are sharing some brotherly love while reading a Reading Rainbow book.

My boys are sharing some brotherly love while reading a Reading Rainbow book.

I love it because it has to do with books and learning. My kids love it because they like books, but they also are drawn to technology, so it’s a perfect compromise to satisfy their tech needs. It’s well worth the $60 for a yearly subscription. We do not have a TV that connects to cable, so connecting to our local PBS station isn’t really an option (not that they play Reading Rainbow anymore). We’ve been subscribers for well over a year now and I renew our subscription every six months.  I’m waiting for the kids to tire of it, but they never do.

Like many of our activities, it goes in and out of favor, but one of our favorite features is the ability to save five personal books in your own “backpack.”

My "backpack" currently has 4 books. You can read these books off-line as long as they are in the backpack.

My “backpack” currently has 4 books. You can read these books off-line as long as they are in the backpack.

I love that you can read your books –  without Internet access – as long as they are in a backpack. My husband and I, and both of our boys, have each created our own backpacks. That’s twenty books that we can take on car trips or office visits to read. And, while my six-year-old is becoming a much better reader, it was a life-saver for those days when my oldest needed more help with school work and my youngest wanted me to read a book. He could go and have the book read aloud to him. Each book gives the option of reading it yourself or having it read to you.

Flip the page with your finger.

Flip the page with your finger – preferably NOT the one you are using to bite your nails!

Many of the books are picture books, but they also include a number of non-fiction titles, such as the National Geographic series and a few picture book biographies. The pages “flip” and every other page contains a brief animation that needs to be activated by the user (they touch the screen to run the 2-second animation). Readers can choose to ignore the animations and just move onto the next page.

In addition to the books, there are a number of videos that feature the host, Lavar Burton. The video offerings are different depending on what “book island” you are visiting. There are seven islands and new videos are added or removed quite often.

A shot of one of the many islands, "Genius Academy." Choose some books or watch a few select videos.

A shot of one of the many islands, “Genius Academy.” Choose some books or watch a few select videos.

In our ongoing attempt to reduce the “stuff” in our house, we have given the subscription to our youngest child as a Christmas present. We just wrapped up the ipad mini and stuck it under the tree. That way it doesn’t have to be one more thing that you need to purchase throughout the year. Books are always a gift.

Book Reviews :: Montessori Sensorial :: Auditory

In an effort to utilize my librarian background, I am embarking on a series of book reviews, to be published every Friday. These reviews will cover science education books for and about children, as well as reality-based children’s books for a Montessori lifestyle.

Various materials to help young children notice the sounds around them.

Various materials to help young children notice the sounds around them.

This week I’ve reviewed books that cover the concept of listening, hearing and sound – all concepts that fall in the ‘Sensorial’ section of a Montessori classroom. To see previous book reviews on other Sensorial topics – check out the posts on color, systems, solids and shapes, and visual observation.

Ages 2 and up
Carle, Eric. The Very Quiet Cricket. Philomel Books: New York, 1990.
A baby cricket is born and wants to be able to answer the other insects in the forest, but when he rubs his wings together, they don’t make a sound. After encountering a big cricket, a locust, a praying mantis, a worm, a spittlebug, a cicada, a bumblebee, a dragonfly, mosquitoes and a luna moth, the little cricket encounters a female cricket and is finally able to rub his wings together to make a sound. At the end of the book, a surprise chirping sound is created by opening the last page. Therefore, it’s worth it to purchase a new copy of this book (board book or otherwise) because the cricket sound will be worn out on a typical library copy.

Montessori Note: While the language of the book has the insects saying “good night” or “hello”, often it is used to introduce the sound that each animal makes. For example, the cicada screeches “good afternoon.” Teachers and parents could easily omit these words if they are concerned that children will be confused by the implication that insects speak.

A classic book with a built-in clicking sound.

A classic book with a built-in clicking sound.

Ages 2 and up
Aliki. Quiet in the Garden. Greenwillow Books: New York, 2009.
While very young children may have trouble sitting still long enough to hear things in their garden, preschool age children are ready for the chance to play the silence game. The little boy is Aliki’s story likes to sit quietly because if he is “very still, (he) sees more.” As he is quiet in his garden, he can hear different sounds (chirp, squeak, crunch). As he encounters different animals in the garden, he notices different actions and hears different sounds. In addition to the simple sentences, there is a “side conversation” that goes on between the two animals that are featured on each page. They do not add anything to the story and do not need to be read aloud. The colored-pencil illustrations are bright and vibrant and will have your youngsters poring over each page. Pictures might be great for an introductory art class as well. After reading, head outside and see what your students can hear in their garden.

From Aliki's Quiet in the Garden.

From Aliki’s Quiet in the Garden.

Ages 3 and up
Singer, Marilyn. Quiet Night. Illustrated by John Manders. Clarion Books: New York, 2002.
The moon is bright and the animals are coming out to hunt, play and be active during the quiet night. In the same rhythm as “the house that Jack built,” Singer’s story builds as the “four fish whap-slap, three geese honk-honk, two owls whoo-hoo, and a frog bar-rums on a quiet night.” Eventually, we see a tent and ten campers emerge as they ponder all of the noises of the night! A cute, easy-flowing story that will make children giggle while still introducing them to the concept of nocturnal animals and a ‘quiet’ night.

Great story to teach quantities 1-10, but also for a discussion about nocturnal animals.

Great story to teach quantities 1-10, but also for a discussion about nocturnal animals.

Ages 5 and up
Wood, Douglas. A Quiet Place. Illustrated by Dan Andreasen. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: New York, 2002.
This large book lends itself to sharing with a group and the soft, oil- painted illustrations are lovely, realistic and add much to the abstract concepts of the story. A young, city-dwelling boy needs some quiet – a rest from “bells ringing, whistles shrieking, and grown-ups talking.” He ponders the places he could go – under a bush, in the woods, by the sea, in the desert, by a pond, in a cave, on top of a hill, in a snowdrift, in a museum, in the library, or just in his own room with his own thoughts. The concept of needing a quiet place may be foreign to many youngsters, but this could be a good book to use when discussing why someone might need a quiet space and how to recognize when that’s important. This book would also be most helpful for introducing a home or school “quiet” space.

From the book, A Quiet Place, by Douglas Wood.

From the book, A Quiet Place, by Douglas Wood.

Although I didn’t have a chance to read them, the following books seem as if they would fit into a Montessori curriculum.

Showers, Paul. The Listening Walk. HarperCollins: New York, 1993 (reprint of 1961 version).
This book has been perpetually checked out within my library system and I did not have a chance to look at it, however, the premise seems to fit quite nicely into a reality-based curriculum. A girl goes on a walk and hears all sorts of sounds, from natural animal sounds to man-made lawnmower sounds. A perfect book to read before you head out on your own listening walk.

Lemniscates. Silence. American Psychological Association’s Magination Press: New York, 2012.
As we ask our children to filter more and more information – at a younger age – books that help teach mindfulness are quite valuable. This is a story to read with children while it asks them to consider the sounds of our world.

Children's Books on noises and the value of quiet.

Book Reviews :: Montessori Sensorial :: Visual Observation

In an effort to utilize my librarian background, I am embarking on a series of book reviews, to be published every Friday. These reviews will cover science education books for and about children, as well as reality-based children’s books for a Montessori lifestyle.

One of the layouts from the children's book, Dreaming Up by Christy Hale.

One of the layouts from the children’s book, Dreaming Up by Christy Hale.

“The aim is not an external one, that is to say, it is not the objects that the child should learn how to place the cylinders, and that he should know how to perform an exercise. The aim is an inner one, namely, that the child train himself to observe; that he be led to make comparisons between objects, to form judgements, to reason and decide…”
– Maria Montessori, Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook, page 71

Visual Observation

Although many of the materials in this area of the classroom are based on the decimal system (pink tower, brown stair, knobbed cyclinders, etc.) and fit together in a very specific way – it is the hope that a young child will begin to notice when things “look out of place.” You want them to walk past that pink tower and notice when one of the other children didn’t put it back quite right. You want them to begin to develop their observation skills – to realize there is a world outside of themselves. Therefore, the books I have found ask children to notice something; to be active observers.

Ages 2.5 and up
Swineburne, Stephen. Lots and Lots of Zebra Stripes. Boyds Mill Press: Homesdale, PA, 1998.
Swineburne’s photographs showcase various brightly-colored animals and plants that exist in nature. The accompanying words (both Spanish and English) point out the concept of patterns and seasons, but the true gem of this book is in the details. Close-up photos of snakes, cut tree trunks and a sandy beach provide the opportunity to discuss patterns in everyday life. Younger children will enjoy identifying the objects in the pictures, but older kids may enjoy relating other incidences of patterns that they see outside.

Patterns in the sand.

Patterns in the sand.

Ages 4 and up
Hoban, Tana. Look! Look! Look! Greenwillow Books: New York, 1988.
The first page of each section provides the reader with a small square cut-out of the photograph that is featured on the following page. Excited youngsters will be eager to try and guess what the picture is – a surprise on every two pages. Photographs include: a border collie, a ferris wheel, a ball of red yarn, the back of an elephant, a pink rose, the leg of a Galapagos tortoise, a guitar, a lamb, and a pumpkin. Kids will enjoy looking over the book a few more times and “guessing” correctly. Use this book during a discussion about a whole item and its parts – or in an art lesson with a focus on detail.

From Tana Hoban's Look! Look! Look! Did you guess that this is a ball of yarn?

From Tana Hoban’s Look! Look! Look! Did you guess that this is a ball of yarn?

Ages 4 and up
Micklethwait, Lucy. I Spy A Lion: Animals in Art. Greenwillow Books: New York, 1994.
Micklethwait’s first “art” book was I Spy: An Alphabet in Art, a book where she asks children to look at famous art masterpieces and find objects that begin with “A, B, etc.” This book also features class art and children are asked to find certain animals in each layout. The animals are sometimes easy to spot and sometimes require a keen eye and a new way of looking at things. Similar to the I-Spy series of books by Jean Marzollo and Walter Wick.

Ages 3.5 and up
Hale, Christy. Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building. Lee & Low Books, Inc.: New York, 2012.
This fabulous book challenges children (and adults) to take a close look at the buildings and structures around them. In each two-page spread, Hale includes a picture of a famous architectural site and and displays a way that children can recreate it with everyday materials. For example, stacking cups can resemble the Petronas Twin Towers, while drip sand castles can recreate the La Sagrada Familia basilica in Spain. For the non-architects among us (and those older children interested in the reality of the buildings), Hale has included a detailed description of each building and its location, architect and date of creation. A fabulous book that makes the connection between art, free-building and purposeful design. Highly Recommended.

I love the picture of a real-world structure next to a child playing with similar building materials. What inspiration!

I love the picture of a real-world structure next to a child playing with similar building materials. What inspiration!

Ages 4 and up
LeSieg, Theo. Wacky Wednesday. Illustrated by George Booth. Random House, Inc.:New York, 1974.
Although this book has a lot of fantastical elements to it (there is a shoe on the wall, after all), the main backdrop to this story is the boy’s home and school. In typical Dr. Seuss fashion, this book rhymes and asks the reader to find an increasing array of out of place objects. Children will giggle as they see an extra large candy cane acting as a chair leg or find it incredibly odd that there is a turtle stuck up a tree. Since the book is not overly large, prepare to use this book in small group settings or snuggled up next to a child.

Wacky Wednesday is just one book in a large area of children’s publishing that asks you to find what’s out of place. Other interesting books include the Spot the Differences in Art series by Dover. These books are meant to be pored over within small groups, but accomplish the same task – asking the reader to look deeper.

Wacky Wednesday is a silly book. Do not read it at bedtime if you want your children to go to bed on time!

Wacky Wednesday is a silly book. Do not read it at bedtime if you want your children to go to bed on time!

To read more about reality-based books for the Sensorial section of a Montessori classroom, continue to the post about auditory learning.

 

The Brick Chronicles :: Scrambled States

The Brick Chronicles feature unique creations made with Lego® bricks. Hopefully you, and the children in your life, will find them as inspiring as I do!

The state of California built by Colt, age 9.

The state of California built by Colt, age 9.

After challenging my students to build a (somewhat) 2-D map with Legos®, I thought they were ready to try and build one of the states. We read the very silly book, The Scrambled States of America, and each student went to work. I did leave the book open to the map of the U.S. – just in case they needed a reference guide.

 

The state of Florida built by Owen, age 7.

The state of Florida built by Owen, age 7.

The state of Texas built by Elijah, age 8.

The states of Texas, Arkansas and Montana (I think)…built by Elijah, age 8.

The state of Hawaii built by Rainer, age 8. (I was really bummed about my blurry picture...this was such a great concept)!

The state of Hawaii built by Rainer, age 8. (I was really bummed about my blurry picture…this was such a great concept)!

The state of Texas built by Rebecca, age 10.

The state of Texas built by Rebecca, age 10.

 

The Brick Chronicles :: If I Built a House

The Brick Chronicles feature unique creations made with Lego® bricks. Hopefully you, and the children in your life, will find them as inspiring as I do!

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More stories, more creative challenges. After reading If I Built a House, the students came up with their own special house (or featured room)…with only their imaginations to limit them.

Built by Rebecca, age 10. The green upstairs is a secret hideout with a security camera and the downstairs has a pool with a diving board. My kind of place!

Built by Rebecca, age 10. The green upstairs is a secret hideout with a security camera and the downstairs has a pool with a diving board. My kind of place!

This room has windows and can detach with rocket boosters. (The green circle in the middle is a bean bag to relax upon). Built by Owen, age 7.

This room has windows and can detach with rocket boosters. (The green circle in the middle is a bean bag to relax upon). Built by Owen, age 7.

This is Colt's pool room, complete with a waterfall that you can go beneath and a water slide.

This is Colt’s pool room, complete with a waterfall that you can go beneath and a water slide.

An anti-gravity room with a giant flag. Built by Wes, age 9.

An anti-gravity room with a giant flag. Built by Wes, age 9.

This is a video game room with a big TV and a video controller in the middle of the room. Built by Rainer, age 8.

This is a video game room with a big TV and a video controller in the middle of the room. Built by Rainer, age 8.

This "Plant Room" was inspired by Elijah's mom. This room has grass walls, plants everywhere, a beach and a palm tree. Built by Elijah, age 8. (Elijah's mom - you are one lucky lady!)

This “Plant Room” was built for Elijah’s mom (who is one very lucky lady)! This room has grass walls, plants everywhere, a beach and a palm tree. Built by Elijah, age 8.