• My affiliate links won't hurt you, but they might help feed my kids. See my full disclosure policy in the main menu.

25 Days of Lit in Your Homeschool: Day 6 Bears

ohr4bEver wonder exactly why bears hibernate? Or how exactly they make such good fishermen?  A bear study can teach your littles so much about nature, conservation, and mammal habits.  You can cover black bears, grizzlies, polar bears, Kodiaks.  There are so many varieties of bear.  You can learn about their cold weather habits, their warm weather habits, their diets, their sense of family.  Bears are a great addition to any animal or nature study and adding literature to your study can make it ever so much more fun.  You know it can.  You’ve read it here before.  And I don’t lie to you.

There are a lot of books about bears, and some of them have been favorites in our house for a long time.  You’ll have heard of most of these, maybe.  That’s okay, maybe you forgot how great they are.  Maybe you remember them from your own childhood and haven’t yet had the chance to introduce them to your littles.  Maybe it didn’t occur to you to make them part of your bear study.  Lucky you, you have the Lit Mama to remind you. 🙂

 

Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik

We love these books.  They are sweet, simple stories with an almost lyrical feel to them.  Even the illustrations are sweet and simple.  They’re easy readers, so they can give your lower elementary child reading practice or your preschool child a good chance to cuddle up next to mama and follow along as she reads.  Nothing bad happens in Little Bear’s world and happiness shines through all the family interactions.  Little Bear’s antics will help your littles relate to bears and make their studies even more rewarding.

 

Corduroy by Don Freeman

This book.  I remember it inspiring me when I was little.  I still kind of believe stuffed animals come to life behind our backs, thanks to Corduroy and the Raggedy dolls.  This one fed my imagination, and it fed Big’s imagination, and it fed the Littles’ imaginations in turn.  Corduroy comes to life in the department store after it closes at night and climbs down from his shelf to look for his missing button.  He has a series of adventures before he’s discovered by the night watchmen and put back on his shelf.  The next morning, a little girl buys him and takes him home to be her friend.  Such an endearing story, and the bright illustrations are sweet while leaving a little something to your little’s imagination.

 

 

A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond

Paddington is another bear I grew up with.  Traveling to England from Darkest Peru with only a jar of marmalade?  Darkest Peru?  It sounds so intriguing.  (And Peru Actually Is intriguing, so this book with work well with a South America study, too.)  This bear is one adventurous guy.  Luckily for him, he meets a family who accepts him at face value and welcomes him into their hearts. There are more than fifty books about Paddington and this is the first.  If you haven’t already fallen in love with this bear, you will from the first page.

 

Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen

This riveting story about a young troublemaker who is sentenced to Native American ‘circle justice’ for beating up another kid gives some insight into the nature of bears.  When Cole is sent to live on an island off the coast of Alaska, he is warned of a Spirit Bear who will share the island with him.  Cole, in a typical act of rebellion, tries to kill the bear when he sees it.  The bear mauls him, breaking several bones and nearly killing him.  As he lays alone on the island, surviving on worms and other nasty things, the bear returns twice without hurting him and her realizes it had just been protecting itself.   His journey from being an angry, violent teen to being a more humane person is amazingly well-written.  A wonderful additon to your bear study.

 

East by Edith Pattou

Pattou is one of the authors who inspired me to make my first novel, Frog’s Princess, fairytale-based (the other was Shannon Hale).  This particular book, based on the tale ‘East of the Sun and West of the Moon,” is brilliant.  Pattou makes her reader fall in love with the polar bear who takes Rose from her home and you stay cheering Rose on until the very end of her adventures.  Sure, it doesn’t really teach much about bears, but my book doesn’t teach you about frogs.  You should still read it. haha

 

There Will Be Bears by Ryan Gebhart

Nerdy, sweet Tyson just wants to be in the in-crowd.  Unfortunately, he just doesn’t fit in.  His best friend is his Grandpa Gene, a roughneck who has promised to take him on an elk hunt.  When Grandpa Gene gets sick and has to move to a nursing home, Tyson feels like he’s lost his only friend.  Together, they come up with a plan to sneak off to the Grand Tetons for the promised hunt.  But there’s a vicious grizzly in the area, and they’ll have to contend with that, too.  The most exciting part of the book is the encounter with the bear, but kids who love hunting will enjoy it all the way through.

On another note, just in case I haven’t complained enough about how much it’s rained this summer, this meme says it all:

FB_IMG_1436824090144

True story.

Love wins,

KT

Day One: Donkeys   Day Two: Summer

Day Three: Water   Day Four: Insects

Day Five: Owls

25 Days of Lit in Your Homeschool: Day 5 Owls

This post contains affiliate links

This post contains affiliate links

So elusive that even if you live in the country mostly all you get is a ghostly hoo-hooo in the very late evenings or very early mornings, owls are amazing creatures.  The sheer size of the great horned owl is awe-inducing.  Here on the farm, we become aware of their presence when a chicken or rabbit mysteriously disappears overnight.  I don’t know if I’ve told you this, but we only cage our rabbits when they are pregnant.  We release mama and babies into the yard when the babies are about half grown.  I love rabbits.  I can’t stand to see them in cages.  So we have a large fenced area by the barn where they are able to dig burrows and nibble grass and really live.  Mostly without fear of predators.  But the downside of all that freedom is that owls can swoop into the yard at night and snatch them up.  It doesn’t happen often, but it happens.  And don’t even talk to me about raccoons.

Owls make for a great study.  There are so many books about them, so many characters based on them… you can even purchase owl pellets to examine in your homeschool.  If you don’t know what those are, they’re the clump of bones and fur an owl spits back out after it eats an animal whole, keeping only the good stuff to digest.  There are so many amazing things to do when studying owls.  So here are a few really good books to include in your owl study.  You know, to make them seem less like rabbit thieves and more like the majestic creatures they really are.

 

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen is one of my favorite authors.  She writes so man different things for children, she can’t be put into a genre.  Owl moon is about a father who takes his child ‘owling.’ That is, looking for owls under the moonlight on a clear winter night.  One of the things I love about this book is that it is told from the child’s point of view in the first person, and it never reveals the gender of the child.  So whether you have a boy or a girl, he or she can relate to the child as his or her own gender.  A cool touch to a truly lovely book.  The story is told in free verse, and the imagery is there even without the simple, haunting illustrations by John Schoenherr.  Just don’t be surprised if your little asks you to go owling.   So dress warm.

 

Owl and Moon by Heather Swick

This cute book, told in rhyme, has perhaps the most expressive owl I’ve ever seen.  The grumpy guy hates being the only person up at night.  He wants a friend.  But the is moon only other thing awake all night like he is.  Thing is, he’s stuck down here, and the moon is stuck up there.  What’s an owl to do?  I think your littles will enjoy looking at illustrations as much as they will enjoy the story, and this book definitely reminds them how different life is for nocturnal animals.

 

The Owl Who Became the Moon by Jonathan London

This beautiful book is one of our favorites.  The Littles made me read it to them over and over for years.  Not that I minded.  It is a slow-paced, sparsely worded poem set against a backdrop of gorgeous illustrations.  It’s actually a great bedtime story because of its pace, but don’t doubt that it will engage your littles any time of the day.  It makes the owl even more mysterious than we already think it, and a little mystique is a good thing.

 

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien

The owl in this tale is mean and frightening (but he would be from the eyes of a mouse.  Mouse is a delicacy for owls.) but he also Has The Answers, as any good owl would do.  I don’t know why owls became a symbol of wisdom in our culture, but it makes for some interesting characters.  Like the Tootsie Roll Pop owl.  Who is very cool.  This book could spark discussions about owl diet and habitat, and maybe even get your littles interested in researching the folklore about owls.  Not too shabby for a story about a bunch of rats.

 

The Guardians of Ga’Hoole by Kathryn Lasky

This is the first book in a series of 15.  We read it several years ago, and were fascinated by all the information we picked up from it about owls.  It actually sparked our first owl pellet dissection, and we were just reading it for fun.  It’s about Soren, a young owlet who gets pushed out of the nest by his greedy older brother (my doves do this, so there’s really a basis in reality).  Rather than getting mauled by a predator, Soren gets picked up by mysterious owls who take him to St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls, and there his adventures begin.  When he realizes there is something very wrong in the school, Soren and his friend have to fight against the teachings and discover what is going on.  Lots of owl science here, as well as a look at human nature and politics.

 

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

This amazing environmetally-charged book is about Roy, who moves to Florida and discovers a mysterious running boy.  He follows the boy, curious as to where he’s always running.  What follows is an adventure in anti-development.  Roy and the running boy team up to stop developers from destroying the habitat of burrowing owls.   This is great for discussions about being kind to the environment and protecting habitats and species that sometimes get pushed aside in the name of progress.  Plus, it’s big fun, and your littles will enjoy the antics of the boys as they try to stop the construction of a new pancake house.

I could probably go on about owl books all day.  I mean, I didn’t even mention my favorite owl, Owl.  But if you don’t know how much I love the Pooh books, then you need to subscribe and keep reading.  (It’ll probably get annoying, even. haha)

Love wins,

KT

25 Days of Lit in Your Homeschool: Day 4 Insects

o6s98

This post contains affiliate links

Insects are fascinating to littles.  Bugs lead such different lives than ours, and there are so many different kinds.  Planning an insect study is one of the easiest things to do.  All you need is your backyard and a magnifying glass, maybe a bug catcher if you’re so inclined.  There are tons of nonfiction books out there to teach your littles the basics of the insect world.  There is a plethora of information and free notebooking pages, worksheets, and unit studies on the interweb.  Today I’m going to tell you about some fiction books you can add to your study to help give life to the nonfiction.  And remember, bees are too heavy to be able to fly.  They fly anyway.  So might we.

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

No collection of insect books would be complete without Eric Carle.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar is my favorite, but he has many to choose from.   The bold, bright illustrations are without peer, and they lend themselves incredibly well to easy crafting.  If you’re studying bugs other than caterpillars, visit Carle’s website for a full list of his insect books.

 

 

Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni

This book’s simple illustrations put all the focus on its inchworm star. “I am useful,” he says, “I measure things.”  The inchworm happily and proudly measures all manner of things until a nightingale threatens to eat him unless he can measure her song.  “I’ll try,” says the inchworm.  As the nightingale sings, the inchworm measures, inch by inch, until he he inches out of sight.  So cute, and great introduction for littles to these tiny bugs.

 

 

Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg

In this adventure-filled story, two ants decide to stay in a sugar bowl and eat rather than return to their ant hole.  Their kitchen escapades include being poured into a cup of coffee, a short, heated stay in a toaster, and being stunned by an electrical outlet.  If your littles are curious as to how the ants survive all these exploits, think about that time your kitchen got raided by the tiny insects.  Killing them seems Impossible.  Ants are pretty vigorous dudes.  The tale ends when the ant troop comes back to the kitchen and the two bad ants gratefully return home.  The large illustrations of magnified objects will fascinate your littles.

 

The Summer of the Mourning Cloak by Kathleen Nelson

The Mourning Cloak is a butterfly also known as the Camberwell Beauty.  In this lovely tale, 11-year-old Hyslop and her mother go to England to visit her mother’s old friend for the summer.  A crotchety old man who lives on the property is an avid butterfly collector, and he grudgingly takes Hyslop under his wing, teaching her about butterflies and asking for her help in finding a Mourning Cloak for his collection.  There is a lot of information about butterflies in this book, which makes it one of those that teaches without littles realizing they’re being taught.  There is also a tale about relationships, about surviving in difficult circumstances, and about finding hope.  Hyslop is a lovable little girl who is doing her best to navigate a troublesome world.

 

How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

My Littles love this book.  Sure, it doesn’t really teach a lot about worms, but worms are in it, and Billy’s adventures in worm-eating are great for belly laughs.  And cringes.  He has to eat 15 of the slimy buggers in 15 days.  Fear Factor for littles!  The different ways the boys come up with to dress up the taste and texture of worms… Classic.  This one will definitely have your littles laughing and engaged.  It’s a great read even if you aren’t studying worms.

 

In Search of Goliathus Hercules by Jennifer Angus

This fascinating fantasy is about Henri Bell, who is sent to America from England to live with his great-aunt.  An accidental conversation with a fly on a boring day reveals Henri’s ability to speak with insects.  What follows is rollicking adventure including a flea circus, a  beetle army, and–of course–the search for the Goliathus Hercules, which takes Henri to British Malaysia.  It’s filled with wonderful illustrations and lots of entomological information, and would make a fantastic addition to any insect study.

There are so many more stories about insects out there, but these are a few of our faves.  Nothing is more fun than imagining what a butterfly is really thinking or picturing having a conversation with an ant.  Oh, and eating… worms?

Love wins,

KT

Day One: Donkeys

Day Two: Summer

Day Three: Water

 

25 Days of Lit in Your Homeschool Day 3: Water

nzbwf

This post contains affiliate links

We haven’t seen the sun here in 2 weeks or more.  I am not exaggerating–it has rained at least a little every day, and there has been no blue sky to speak of.  It is a strange thing indeed to be feeling the onset of winter blues in the middle of summer.  Normally, we would be at the beginning of our summer drought–a period of about 2 months when we pray for rain.  Not this year.  This year we have flash flood watches every day.  Our yard is starting to resemble a jungle because even when it’s not raining, the grass is too wet to mow. We’ve only been able to get in the pool once in the last two weeks and it spilled over the edges when we added our bodies to it because it is overfull.  It. Is. Wet.  So I thought it appropriate for our books today to be about water.  All kinds of water.  Because, come on, we’re drowning here anyway!

There are so many different ways to teach about water.  Pond studies, river studies, ocean studies, rain cycle studies…  I could probably keep listing, but you get the picture.  With that in mind, here are several books you can use to add literature to a few different types of water study.

Water Dance by Thomas Locker

We love this book.  It takes you through all of water’s paths in non-rhyming verse, using delicious words like sparkling, plunging, roaring, glistening, and spiraling.  The watercolor illustrations are so yummy you will fall in love with water all over again, be it in the form of rain, mist, mountain stream, or the sea.  This book is excellent, and I do mean Excellent, for helping to introduce the water cycle to your littles.  It gives them a visual for just about everything water goes through on our lovely planet.
The Water Hole by Graeme Base

This book does many things–it’s a counting book and a puzzle book, and at first glance you might think it suitable only for the very young.  But the illustrations are Absolutely Gorgeous, and it reminds littles of just how many species depend on water and what might happen if that water disappears. If you are studying ponds or other types of water holes, or if you are studying our dwindling freshwater supply, this book will make a good addition.  Plus, you can get this super-awesome coloring book to go with it.
Amos & Boris by William Steig

Another brilliant book by Steig, this one is about a mouse who falls overboard in the ocean and is rescued by a whale.  It’s a true lesson in kindness and helping one’s fellow… mammal.  In pure Steig style, there’s plenty of high sea adventure, and eventually our little mouse gets to repay his big friend’s favor.  This one would be a fun addition to any ocean study.
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

This brilliantly uplifting adventure is sure to please any little.  Based on a true story, it tells the tale of Karana, a native Californian who lives alone for 18 years on an island in the Pacific Ocean.  In true Robinson Crusoe fashion, she makes a home for herself and builds a life.  So many things to learn from this book, I can’t even list them.  Speaking of Crusoe,
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Another tale of survival on an isolated island, this book also has a lot of chapters about the ocean itself–its dangers, its beauties, how a person can fall in love with it and want to live on it.  It’s one of our favorite books because it is so full of adventure and truly sound ideas for surviving on one’s own.  It would be a brilliant addition to an ocean study.
Downriver by Will Hobbs

If you’re studying rivers, this adventurous tale about a group of teens who steal a raft and take off down the Colorado River will be a good addition.  There are wonderful descriptions of the river and the Grand Canyon, and lots of lessons about life and growth in this one.  Even if you have a reluctant reader, this one is sure to please.

Learning about water and all its guises can make for a long lesson.  Give that lesson a bit of fun with one or more of these books, and your little will remember what he’s learned as he relates it to the literature.  You can’t beat that.

Oh, and maybe could you do a sun dance for me?

Love wins,

KT

Day One: Donkeys

Day Two: Summer