In Grandma’s Attic

A Book Worth Reading: In Grandma's Attic from the Homeschool Share Blog

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, and though sometimes a cover can draw me to a book, there have also been times I’m glad I’ve taken that advice to heart and started reading anyway.  One of those times was with In Grandma’s Attic, the first book in the Grandma’s Attic series by Arleta Richardson.  I first picked up an old copy of the book at a used book sale, and it sat in my bookshelf for at least a couple of years before I decided to pull it to read during our morning basket time.  Once we started it, my kids did not want to stop–in fact, I ended up ordering the Grandma’s Attic Treasury (the first four stories in the series–republished with newer covers) as well as the later books, which have not been republished and are more difficult to find.

In Grandma’s Attic is a collection of stories (each one a chapter) that the author’s grandmother, Mabel, tells her about her childhood in Michigan in the 1800s.  The stories often revolve around some sort of mischief Mabel and her friend, Sarah Jane, have gotten themselves into and are always entertaining.  I was surprised at how much both of my children–an 11 year old boy and a 6 year old girl–were drawn in and interested!  The stories do have a Christian message and Mabel’s parents often refer to scripture, but it doesn’t come across as overly preachy; it just comes across as good parenting instead of a story written to fit a moral lesson.

The second and third books in the series follow the same format, but beginning with the fourth book, young Arleta’s part (the “tell me a story, Grandma” part) is left out, and Mabel tells her own story.  At this point we have read the first six books of the series and are about to start the seventh book, where Mabel is teaching and preparing to get married.  My kids and I are totally invested in these characters, so we’re going to finish the whole series!

The short chapters in the Grandma’s Attic books make them great read alouds, even for young children, and kids will love to hear about what Mabel and her family and friends did for fun so long ago.  The characters are engaging and at the end of each chapter you’ll be wanting to read just one more!

Owls in the Family

A Book Worth Reading: Owls in the Family

Do you have one of those adventurous children who always loves to try new things?  Or perhaps an animal lover who wants to rescue every creature he sees?  Then Farley Mowat’s Owls in the Family needs to be in your family reading basket!  (Or perhaps not, as you may not want to have owls in your family!)

Owls in the Family begins with two young boys, Bruce and Billy, hunting for an owl’s nest on the Saskatchewan prairie.  Their plan is to get some baby owls that they can raise as pets, but mama owl foils their attempts.  After a storm, though, they go back to check the nest and find it has been destroyed.  A single owlet has survived, though, and they and take him home to care for him, deciding to call him Wol. A couple of weeks later, Billy comes upon some boys tormenting a small owl and trades his pocket knife to the bullies in exchange for the tiny animal.  This owl, named Weeps, also comes to live with Billy’s family.

The owls become part of the family–along with the rest of Billy’s menagerie–and develop their own personalities.  There are so many funny stories in the book, like the disastrous pet parade and the visiting minister who is shocked to find an owl on his shoulder.  Owls in the Family has lots of sweet stories that will make readers laugh, and at the end, will make them a little sad as Billy has to find them a new home.

Owls in the Family is a short chapter book (just under 100 pages), so it makes a good choice for a younger reader to tackle independently or for a short read aloud for the whole family.  Either way, you will enjoy this sweet and funny story–and probably learn about owls, too!

Cook with Books: Pete’s A Pizza

Cook with Books: Pete's a Pizza from The Homeschool Share Blog

Have you read William Steig’s Pete’s A Pizza before?  If not, this is the perfect book to share over a fun pizza lunch with your kiddos!  In the story, Pete is in a bad mood, so his dad decides to cheer him up by making him into a pizza.  It’s a funny and sweet book that is a quick read, too.

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Making your own pizzas can be really easy!  You just need dough–we made it crazy easy and used biscuits–sauce, cheese, and toppings!

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Spray your baking sheet and mash out the biscuits to form your pizza crusts.

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Spread the sauce on the dough.

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Then add your toppings!  It’s really that easy!

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We baked ours for about 10 minutes at 375 degrees.

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Delicious!

Tea Time with Rene Magritte

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Photo from renemagritte.org

Rene Magritte was born in Belgium on November 21, 1898.  He attended art school when he was in his late teens, but didn’t begin to paint in the surrealist style for which he is known until his twenties.  When he was starting out as an artist, he took on other jobs to make ends meet, like designing wallpaper and making advertisements.  Magritte and his wife, Georgette, moved to Paris in 1927 to work with other Surrealist artists, but he didn’t get along with the others well and eventually they moved back to Belgium.  Magritte passed away in 1967.

Books We Read

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If you’ve read any of my previous tea time posts, you know I’m a big fan of Mike Venezia’s Getting to Know…series.  These kid-friendly biographies are a great way to introduce artists and give a good overview of their style.  There are also some great picture books out there based on the works of different artists and I like to share those when I can, too!

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Magritte’s Marvelous Hat is a really cool book that includes several overlays that change the pictures.

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The first view…

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And then when the overlay is moved, it looks like this!  My kids thought this was pretty cool–and with some overhead transparencies, it might be fun to try your own!

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In Dinner at Magritte’s a young boy visits his neighbor, Magritte, who has Salvador Dali over for a visit.  The pictures in this book pay homage to some of the artist’s paintings, like the one above and this painting.  My kids enjoyed looking at the details in all of the illustrations and trying to figure out which of Magritte’s paintings they matched.

Projects We Tried

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The first project we tried was this fun positive/negative space activity from Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational.

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My kids really enjoyed making these self portraits (inspired by this painting).

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I liked the idea this blogger had to recreate “The Future of Statues“, but I wasn’t sure about where I could store two styrofoam heads, so we improvised and made our faces from Model Magic and then painted them.

If you’re looking for a fun artist to really draw your kids in, Magritte is a great one to study!

National Public Garden Day

FREE Gardening Unit Studies from Homeschool Share

May 6th is National Public Garden Day, so it’s a wonderful time to get out and enjoy some of the beauty in your community!  It’s also a great time to share some books with your kids, so we have some suggestions for you–and some even have free units at Homeschool Share!

FREE Literature Based Unit Studies and Printables

Holly Bloom's Garden

Holly Bloom’s Garden:  Holly is frustrated when she can’t get her flowers to grow like her mom’s and her siblings’ flowers do.  After trying all kinds of solutions, she finally comes up with a foolproof way to have a beautiful garden!

The Gardener

The Gardener:  Young Lydia Grace is sent to the city to live with her uncle during the Depression.  In her quest to hold on to her country life and to make her uncle smile, Lydia Grace begins a garden in the city, making it a better place for everyone.

Miss Rumphius

Miss Rumphius:  You may already be familiar with this story, which tells how Miss Rumphius achieved her goals of traveling the world, living by the sea, and making the world a more beautiful place.  If you haven’t read it before, this is definitely one that belongs on your library list!

The Trellis and the Seed

The Trellis and the Seed:  The little seed wants to be a big vine, but its dream seems impossible, in spite of everything it has been told.  This story reminds readers that with time and patience and faith, we can achieve great things!

Garden Themed Books for Your Book Basket

In the Garden

In the Garden: Who’s Been Here? by Lindsay Barrett George:  This simple picture book is a guessing game, too!  Two children are exploring their garden and trying to figure out who else has been there from clues that have been left behind.

Jack's Garden

Jack’s Garden by Henry Cole:  This is a garden-themed take on “The House that Jack Built” that also shares more detailed information on plants and animals found in the garden, too!

Planting the Wild Garden

Planting the Wild Garden by Kathryn O. Galbraith:  We usually think of gardens as spaces that have been deliberately planted, but this book focuses on how things are “planted” in the wild.

The Curious Garden

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown:  This is probably my favorite gardening book and the best one for the day!  Liam lives in a drab and dreary city, until one day when he finds a few plants growing on an abandoned railway.  Over time he learns more about the plants and eventually changes the entire landscape!  The story is great and Peter Brown’s illustrations are gorgeous.

Zinnia's Flower Garden

Zinnia’s Flower Garden:  Monica Wellington’s books are so wonderful because they have a simple story and nice bright illustrations, which are great for younger kids, but your older kids will enjoy them, too, because of the details (both in pictures and words) she includes in her illustration borders.  This story begins with Zinnia planting her seeds in the spring and follows her garden through the summer and into the fall, when she harvests the seeds to use the next year.

Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms

Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms by Julia Rawlinson: Fletcher is alarmed to find that snow is falling when it’s time for animals to come out from their winter’s naps and flowers to bloom, so he spreads the word throughout the forest.  When they all go to investigate, though, they find that the snowflakes are actually huge white blossoms.  The story is sweet and the illustrations are beautiful.  We love the Fletcher books!

The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett would be a perfect chapter book read aloud!  Follow the adventures of three young children who find an abandoned garden.

Check out the Homeschool Share Plants Connections page for more fun ideas!

Cook with Books: The Highly Trained Dogs of Professor Petit

Cook with Books: The Highly Trained Dogs of Professor Petit

We recently read Carol Ryrie Brink’s The Highly Trained Dogs of Professor Petit.  If you haven’t read this sweet story before, you’re missing out! There’s humor, adventure, and mystery in this short chapter book and it’s a good read for the whole family.

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It’s also a great book to read for National Puppy Day on March 23rd–and a great time to cook up some yummy treats for the puppies in your family!

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This recipe comes from my friend (and fellow homeschooling mom!) Nancy, and our dog has liked them so much, so I’m thankful she shared this recipe with us!  I love that it uses ingredients I usually already have on hand.

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Just mix your flour, egg,…

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pumpkin, and peanut butter!

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Roll out the dough and cut out shapes–How cute is this set??  All that’s left is the baking.  Easy peasy!

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If you are talented like Nancy, you can melt candy melts or yogurt chips to decorate them, too!  Wouldn’t these make cute gifts?

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Hobo was so happy to get to be the official taste tester!

Here’s the full recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin
  • 3 tbsp. peanut butter

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together well
  2. Roll out dough on a floured surface and cut out shapes with cookie cutters
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, depending on how soft or crunchy you want them
  4. Melt candy melts or yogurt chips to decorate treats

Your puppy will thank you!