Through Time: New York City :: Book Sharing Monday

DH will be traveling to New York City in a few weeks on business and I am fortunate to be able to accompany him.  The kids would love to go … but we have opted not to bring them this time … to allow for a little romance.  They have many questions though … “What is it like?  How big is it?  What will you do when you are there?”  At the library last week, I happened upon this book in the new arrivals and knew immediately that the kiddos would be intrigued.

Through Time: New York City, written by Richard Platt and illustrated by Manuela Cappon, is part of a series that offers a unique pictorial journey through different periods in history. Detailed artwork tells the story of a specific location as it changes with time. As they explore each scene, readers learn about the people who lived in this place, looking at their beliefs and ways of life. 

Through Time: New York City tells the story of the Big Apple from its native American origins to the present – including the arrival of European settlers, the growth of trade, immigration, and great feats of engineering such as the Brooklyn Bridge. Along the way, the book explores major events in world history, such as the Revolutionary War and the famous Wall Street Crash.

The Benefits of Service Learning from an Early Age

I have always loved learning and believe that education is a community effort.  As an elementary teacher, I continually sought out service learning projects that enabled my students to become involved in the community while simultaneously complementing our classroom lessons and skills.  As a parent, I want my children to grow up with volunteering as an integral part of their lives.

My children and I began volunteering together in the spring of 2006 when my daughter was 3 ½ years old and my son was 15 months.   We volunteered as Living History Interpreters.  We dressed as homesteaders near Prineville, Oregon in 1880 and interacted with the public as they visited our homestead.  In this role, we utilized our knowledge of the region’s history to educate the public about the past.  With the exception of the winter months, we typically volunteered one day a week for approximately 5 hours.

We also worked with the Adopt-An-Animal program, whereby donors provided financial support for the care of the animals at the museum.  In turn, we sent the donor a thank you letter and a packet of information specific to the animal they selected which included an animal fact sheet, a certificate with a color photograph of the animal, a decal, and an activity sheet.

The children helped me by finding the necessary photographs and thereby learned to identify the names of our native wildlife.  They also learned about why the animals are in our care — all were unable to survive in the wild, typically because they were injured or became dependent on humans for food. Specific needs of the animals such as diet, habitat, and medical care provided great learning opportunities as well.  We typically worked 1-3 hours a week throughout the year.

While we no longer volunteer at the museum, I continue to involve the children in a variety of activities around our community.  We collect trash and pull non-native, invasive weeds along the river when we go for walks.  We donate canned food for the local food banks.  During the holiday season, we donate gifts for children in need.  Last spring, we began a garden to grow a few organic vegetables for our table.

Each service learning endeavor helps the children to think about what it means to take care of our community, animals, and the environment.

Service-learning is a teaching method that enriches learning by engaging students in meaningful service to their communities. Young people apply academic skills to solving real-world issues, linking established learning objectives with genuine needs. They lead the process, with adults as partners, applying critical thinking and problem-solving skills to concerns such as hunger, pollution, and diversity.

In the beginning, I wasn’t sure what sort of volunteering made sense for young children. In selecting activities, I take into consideration the interests and concerns that each of my children have developed.

One of the least expected outcomes was recognizing how the children have discovered themselves.  When we started, my daughter was a little timid and slow to talk with adults. In a short time, she learned to interact with the staff and other volunteers as individuals, carrying on conversations and discussing her thoughts openly.  On the homestead, she was always eager to show visitors how to pump water for the garden and can easily identify the vegetables we grow.

It is already clear that their life experiences and these service learning opportunities have helped to ensure that they will be self-assured and outgoing.

Marguerite Makes a Book :: Book Sharing Monday

Marguerite Makes a Book
Written by Bruce Robertson
Illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt
Inspired by the rare collection of European illuminated manuscripts in the J. Paul Getty Museum, this is a delightful story about how books were made in the medieval times, specifically Parisian manuscripts of the 1400s, a golden era in the history of French painting.
The illustrations in the book invoke the feeling of an illuminated manuscript with gold borders and colorful images surrounding the text.  Robertson does a remarkable job bringing Paris to life 600 years ago.  Techniques to make paper (animal skins), brushes (goose feathers), and paints (egg yolks, lapiz lazuli stone, vermilion, pine pitch, madder root, saffron flowers, wax, etc.) are described briefly.
Upon reading this book, my kiddos kept asking, “Can we make a book like that?” How could I say no?  [I’ll post pictures when they are done]
After reading this book, you may want to learn more about how illuminated manuscripts were made. You may even want to try it for yourself.
I’ve created a Squidoo lens to further explore this great book and check out this awesome lens to learn more about Medieval Europe

1000 Years Ago on Planet Earth :: Book Sharing Monday

1000 Years Ago on Planet Earth
by Sneed B. Collard III

Have you ever wondered how people lived 1,000 years ago?  If so, we have discovered a book that provides a glimpse into life a thousand years ago.  On each two-page spread, Sneed B. Collard III and illustrator Jonathan Hunt present a different region or civilization;  introducing the Anasazi and Mississippian of North America, the Maya of Central America, the Chimu of Peru, the Vikings of Northern Europe, the Muslims of the Middle East, the Shona of West Africa, the Chola dynasty of India, the Song dynasty of China, and the Aborigines of Australia.

For most civilizations, the author selects high points, but the spread on Northern Europe provides little information on how people lived, stressing instead that the Vikings raided “defenseless towns and villages across Europe and Asia” where they “”slaughtered their enemies, ransomed rulers, and seized slaves, silver, and other valuables.”

For the most part, however, Collard captures the essence of a culture in a few brief paragraphs. Hunt attempts to provide additional clues to the culture, showing clothing, artifacts and the architecture, but the facial expressions are often fierce, or at least somber, and the emphasis on blood in the Aborigine and Northern European spreads taps into stereotypes. Nevertheless, this is a good introduction that will encourage more exploration.

There Was an Old Man Who Painted the Sky :: Book Sharing Monday

Sweetie picked out There Was an Old Man Who Painted the Sky by Teri Sloat and illustrated by Stefano Vital last week when we were at the library.  I wasn’t sure what to expect when we sat down to read it together.  To my delight, Sloat has not just created another cheesy version of “I know an old lady…” she has brought the folk song into a whole different place.The illustrations are all inspired by cave paintings and because the story is written in rhyme (like the song) the illustrations seem to dance and shimmer along with the text. It’s a wonderful blend of art and words. 

This picture book captures the beauty of cave paintings that were discovered at the Altamira Cave in 1879. A young girl found the paintings when she was eight years old and exploring with her father, an amateur archaeologist. This imaginative story expresses the awe of contemplating the creation of the world and locating beauty in an unexpected place. Children will revel in this timeless tale with truly breathtaking images. It captures the spirit of the paintings and marries their glory with a catchy tune, introducing the wonder of these images to a new generation. They have already survived 11,000-19,000 years, so it’s only appropriate to share them with generations.

Oregon Reads ~ Book Sharing Monday

As part of a statewide celebration to honor Oregon’s 150th birthday, our library foundation is partnering with the statewide Oregon Reads program to present three books. This year’s main selection is the nonfiction tome “Stubborn Twig: Three Generations in the Life of a Japanese American Family,” by Eugene author Lauren Kessler, head of University of Oregon’s graduate program in literary nonfiction. For the first time, the festivities will include a children’s book, “Apples to Oregon,” by Deborah Hopkinson, and a young adult novel, “Bat 6,” by Virginia Euwer Wolff.

Apples to Oregon is a pioneering tall tale ripe with adventure and humor. Although its subtitle is long-winded, it explains the book’s premise precisely: “Being the (Slightly) True Narrative of How a Brave Pioneer Father Brought Apples, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Grapes, and Cherries (and Children) Across the Plains.”

Author Deborah Hopkinson bases her story on fact: “In 1847 a pioneer named Henderson Luelling . . . left Salem, Iowa, with his wife, Elizabeth, and eight children . . . and a wagon carrying seven hundred plants and young fruit trees.” The Luellings did indeed make it to Oregon and prosper along with their trees, but Hopkinson spices up their saga with larger-than-life drama narrated in the wonderful voice of one of the pioneer daughters, all of whom are named after apple varieties. Johnny Appleseed, watch out.

Bat 6 is the softball game played every year between the sixth-grade girls of Barlow and Bear Creek Ridge. All the girls have been waiting for their turn at Bat 6 since they could first toss a ball. This time there’s a newcomer on each team: Aki, at first base for the Ridgers, who just returned with her family from a place she’s too embarrassed to talk about; and Shazam, center field for Barlow, who’s been shunted around by her mother since her father was killed on December 7, 1941. The two girls are on a collision course that explodes on the morning of Bat 6.

Online resources to supplement the novel, Bat 6.

Stubborn Twig is the factual account of three generations of a Japanese-American family living in the Pacific Northwest. It begins in 1903, when Masuo Yasui arrived in Hood River, Oregon, to seek his fortune. This part of the story is similar to other immigrants’ tales-years of hard work, loneliness, and struggles with a new language and customs. The striking distinction appears around 1919, with the rise of anti-Japanese sentiment. Despite discrimination, his family continued to have great success. Their lives were painfully disrupted, however, on December 7, 1941 when Yasui was arrested as a spy and imprisoned for the rest of the war; his relatives were scattered and some were interned.

I would recommend each one of these books to anyone interested in learning more about the Oregon Trail and/or World War II.

For more Book Sharing Monday participants visit Serendipity.