Category Archives: Learning

Best Books: Who Was Charles Darwin

We recently discovered a new to us series, the “Who Was” series. We love to read about history and learn about new people and places. My kids love when they can read a book by themselves and not need me, and with non-fiction that can sometimes be difficult because the language used is often lofty and advanced. The “Who Was” series is great because their target audience is early readers. The language is simple and straight-forward and they are meant to act as a beginners guide to early learners.

There are so many different books available in this incredible series. Biographies range from Jane Goodall to Martin Luther King, and include others such as George Washington, Genghis Khan, and William Shakespeare. Each book allows the reader to get an introductory look in to an historical figure.

This month we chose Charles Darwin because our kids are interested in exploration, animals, and how the animals change. This book gives a great introduction to Survival of the Fittest, looks at Darwin’s expedition to the Galapagos Islands, and gives some details in to his personal life. If you have a child that is interested in learning about adaptation and how species change or disappear this is a great book to start with. Many schools will even give extra credit at the beginning of the school year for students that read and log their reading or create book reports during the holidays. This is an excellent book for a book report, so check it out.

Talking to Your Kids: Ways to Open up Conversation

Do you ever feel like you know very little about your kids? I spend more time with my kids than I spend doing anything else in my life. Yet, I don’t always feel as if I know them deeply enough. What are they feeling, what are they thinking? How was their day at school? I mean I ask them this everyday, but I get those blah-blah answers that get us nowhere.

I have done a lot of reading on the subject and have discovered other ways to get my kids to open up, by using open-ended questions and asking them leading questions I have discovered so much more about their day and what they are feeling and thinking.

I joined a 5-day parenting challenge with Nina at Sleeping Should Be Easy, and we did a lot of research and practiced using special questions that helped to open conversations with our kids. She even has an ebook that helps stressed parents manage their time.

We are enjoying learning more about talking with our kids — instead of to our kids — and it has been helpful to find ways to be more productive as a family. Be sure to check out her ebook and try some of the open-ended questions with your kids. Even just using a few of them on the way home from school pick-up has changed the openness between my oldest and myself. I now know more about the first grade than I ever knew before!

Best Books: Magic Tree House Pirates Past Noon

We love to read at our house, and our kids bring home a new book from school every week to do their AR practice for class (Accelerated Reader Levels). Recently our oldest has become obsessed (and that is putting it mildly) with the Magic Tree House books.

If you have never heard of the Magic Tree House books let me explain, the series is written by Mary Pope Osborne, and each book follows Jack and Annie a brother and sister that discover a magic tree house filled with books. The tree house is owned by a magical enchantress, Morgan Le Fay, King Arthur’s half-sister. Morgan sends Annie and Jack on amazing adventures through time where they meet famous people, experience historical events, cultures, and interact with historical and legendary animals and creatures.

The books follow Jack and Annie on their adventures around the world and each book is different. Currently my oldest is reading Pirates Past Noon and is adventuring the high seas, finding mysterious maps, and searching deserted islands. The books each give insight in to the incredible time periods in which the story takes place. It is a great historical fiction adventure that teaches as the kids delve further and further in to the imaginary world of Jack and Annie.

The books are great for beginning readers, my oldest is a first grader reading 10-16 chapters in each book. However, there are also Merlin Missions that are for more advanced readers that can read longer books with a more extensive vocabulary. The Magic Tree House books also have a Fact Trackers line of books that allows your child to read the Non-Fiction facts used in the novels. it is an excellent way to connect the real world with their imaginary adventure.

If you have a young reader you should definitely check out one of the magic Tree House books, they truly are a world of imagination filled with increible real-life connections!!