Friday, 28 January 2011

LETTERS - Response from CBC Audience Relations

Alisdair was surprised to receive a response to his letter to CBC Audience Relations earlier this month.  He had written to them on September 28th and their letter was dated January 10th.  It reads as follows:

Dear Alisdair:

Thanks for taking the time to write to CBC TV.  We received your letter in CBC National Audience Relations where we respond to audience correspondence for television viewers and radio listeners.

We appreciate knowing that you enjoyed our 3D programming on television but at this time there is no further 3D programming planned for CBC TV except for some hockey games.  We hope you will continue to tune into CBC TV for current and new programs.

Once again, we appreciate your effort to write to us and we hope you enjoy the enclosed 3D glasses that we are sending to you along with this letter.


Maza Molar
Communications Officer

Photo of actual letter


In addition to the "Remember Me Pockets" for each month, "Fortunately For You Books", also offers many other products for homeschoolers.  Their company website featured this free mini lapbook on the State of Alaska.  The instructions appeared to indicate that the mini books would fit inside a folded sheet of cardstock.  When we had everything printed and cut out, however, it didn't fit!  So we made some modifications and used a regular file folder lapbook and put our mini books inside this.



LEFT FLAP - Accordian mini books open


MIDDLE SECTION - State Symbols showing. 
This information is enclosed in the pink cone-shaped pocket. 
RIGHT FLAP - Information about State flag
 in pocket and "Places to See" tab book
Some facts that Alisdair learned are:

The industries of the State of Alaska include:  fishing, natural gas and oil.
Alaska is the largest state in the United States.  It is more than two times bigger than Texas!
The capital of Alaska is Juneau.
Alaska comes from the Eskimo word 'Alakshak' meaning 'Great Lands.'
Most of the United States supply of crab, salmon, halibut and herring come from Alaska.
Nearly on third of Alaska lies within the Arctic Circle.
Alaska became the 49th state in the United States on January 3, 1959.
Seventeen out of the 20 highest peaks in the United States are in Alaska.

The Sitka Spruce is the official state tree.  The Alaska state flower is the Alpine Forget-Me-Not. The Willow Ptarmigan is the official state bird and the state land mammal is the Moose.  Alaskan moose are the largest in the world and can weigh up to 1,600 pounds!  Now wouldn't that make a tasty burger?!

For all intents and purposes, this lapbook is complete, but I am going to get Alisdair to write a letter to the Governor of Alaska, Sean Parnell to ask for leaflets which might offer additional information about the State.  If we receive an interesting response, we will write another blog post about it.

BOOK REVIEWS - Katie and the Waterlily Pond ~ By: James Mayhew

Tuesday's inter-library loan shipment held a treasure for us to read ~ the recently published "Katie and the Waterlily Pond" by James Mayhew. This book was printed by Orchard Books in 2010 and features five masterpieces by Claude Oscar Monet.

Not unlike the rest of the Katie series, the young art lover visits the gallery with her Grandma.  This time there is a competition taking place, giving Katie the opportunity to submit her own painting in the impressionistic style of Claude Monet.  It's a race against time - the judging is at 3 o'clock.  Katie decides to tour the exhibition for some inspiration while Grandma takes time out for a nap! The first painting that catches the young girl's eye is "In the Woods at Giverny."

In The Woods at Giverny

When Katie steps into the painting she enjoys a conversation with Blanche Hoschede, who is painting at an easel.  In reality, Blanche was Claude Monet's stepdaughter, resulting from his marriage to the girl's mother, Alice.  The other girl, who is reading a book, is another stepdaughter, Suzanne Hoschede.  The painting was completed in 1887.  We are told (in the notes at the back of the book) that Monet gave Blanche regular art lessons and she became an important painter, too.  This painting is housed in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  Blanche gives Katie a brief art lesson, to assist her with the competition, before she steps out of the painting and back into the gallery.  Katie soon sees "Bathers at La Grenouillere" and moves on to explore it.

Bathers at La Grenouillere

Katie decides to get in a boat and float along the river until she finds a nice view to paint for the competition.  Unfortunately the boat she selects springs a leak.  Katie manages to reach a jetty and rescues her painting supplies, but the boat sinks and her painting floats away in the water.  Having had enough of that, Katie retuns to the gallery, determined to find something else.  Perhaps a trip to Paris is the answer!

The Rue Montorgueil, Paris

Katie climbs inside The Rue Montorgueil, Paris and finds herself on a balcony of a grand hotel.  She enjoys the atmosphere ~ with the flags waving and the crowds and a parade coming down the street.  Katie goes  down to the ground level and begins to paint.  She is so busy at her easel, Katie doesn't see the band marching straight towards her.  Suddenly her picture is caught on the end of a trombone!  After it is crushed between a pair of cymbals, the picture is sucked into the top of a tuba.  The band leaves and Katie has to find a nice quiet place to continue painting her entry for the competition.  "Path Through the Poppies" might provide just the right tranquil backdrop.

Path Through the Poppies
However, Katie is soon caught in some new desperate circumstances. She enjoys a brief peaceful interlude painting and listening to birdsong and the gentle mooing of a cow.  But the cow turns out to be a bull ~ and Katie is wearing red!  The bull charges, Katie run back to the safety of the gallery and she, once again, loses her painting as in all the commotion it is impaled on one of the bull's horns!  Running out of time, Katie spies "The Waterlily Pond."  It's Katie's last chance to produce a picture for the competition.

The Waterlily Pond
The garden is beautiful and Katie begins painting the scene before her eyes.  She sees a frog and tries to paint him.  The little creature hops away and Katie tries to follow but falls and gets stuck in the mud.  Her picture falls into the pond but the wee girl fishes it out.  "Painting like Monet is just too hard," she exclaims, before gathering everything up and then returning her painting supplies to Blanche Hoschede.  Her instructor encourages Katie, telling her that the painting is beautiful and that the smudged paint is a lot like Monet's techniques.  So Katie takes her painting to the judges and wins first prize!  For her troubles, she receives a luxury set of paints.  By now Grandma has woken up and she, too, admires Katie's painting. Katie promises to teach Grandma how to paint like Monet, but before their lesson, the pair go off in search of a piece of cake for a mid-afternoon snack.

The information page at the back of the book says "Monet painted hundreds of wonderful pictures which are in galleries all over the world.  Why not see if your nearest gallery has a painting by the magnificent Claude Monet?"  "Bathers At La Grenouillere" is in the National Gallery in London, as is "The Waterlily Pond."  "The Rue Montorgueil, Paris" is fittingly in the Musee d'Orsay in the French capital, and "The Path Through the Poppies, Ile Saint-Martin, Vetheuil" hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  I laughed and said to Alisdair I didn't think the Allen Sapp Gallery in North Battleford would have any works by Monet on display!  Perhaps if we go to a larger city sometime, we might be lucky enough to see one.

On the back cover of this volume, the website for Orchard Books is advertised.  There are four titles listed that we have not been able to obtain from inter-library loans.  However, one of these appears to have been published under two titles (perhaps one was used in Britain and the other in North America?)  "Katie and the Bathers" appears to have the same content as "Katie's Sunday Afternoon."  The three we have been unable to obtain are "Katie in London," "Katie and the British Artists" and "Katie and the Spanish Princess."  Perhaps we can order these from the publisher someday.  Failing that, we will have to wait until James Mayhew, the author of Katie's wonderful adventures, is inspired to write another children's book!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

CURRICULUM ~ Remember Me Pockets: January ~ AUTHORS - Charles Perrault

I didn't know who Charles Perrault was ~ so I guess I learned something right off the bat!  For those of you, who like me, were unfamiliar with Perrault, he was a French author who is credited with writing the first fairy tales.  He was born on January 12, 1628 in Paris, France.  After studying law and working in the government, under King Louis XIV, he changed career paths and became a writer.  He was 62 years old when he decided to dedicate his efforts toward children's literature.  (So I guess there is hope for me yet to write that  "Great Canadian Novel," as I have a ways to go before reaching the grand age of 62!)

Perrault wrote Tales of Mother Goose, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Puss In Boots! Though I didn't know him by name, I did know the stories for which he is famous.

Biography Page - Charles Perrault

Worksheet - Sticker Study Format
Again we had an interesting activity to do.  This time the worksheet asked three questions and we cut out little "stickers" with the appropriate answers and glued them in place.  There was also a word list (taken from the biography sheet) with definitions and Alisdair had to fill-in the blanks.

We have some other "book" oriented activities to finish for our January "Remember Me Pockets" but this is the last of the specially highlighted authors.

CURRICULUM - Remember Me Pockets: January ~ AUTHORS: J. R. R. Tolkien

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born January 3, 1892 in Bloemfontein, South Africa.  His "claim to fame" is as the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. 

Tolkien was the second author that Alisdair and I completed for our Remember Me Pocket for January.  In order to complete the Tolkien activity puzzle, we printed three separate pages from the downloaded template on to cardstock.  One had the picture puzzle on one side of the various squares.  On the other side (we had to print back-to-back) were brief answers to, as yet unasked, questions about Tolkien's life.  The actual questions were printed, in full, on the third page of cardstock.

Some of the 16 questions were:

What did Ronald's father die from?  Rheumatic Fever
In World War I what did he serve as?  A signals officer
What type of illness did he get while serving in the War?  Typhoid Fever
When did Ronald begin his book writing?  While recuperating from Typhoid Fever
How old was J. R. R. Tolkien at the time of his death?  81 years old

Once Alisdair selected a question on the grid and found the corresponding puzzle piece with the answer on it, we could glue the question and answer side together.  This created a two-ply picture puzzle, which the creators at Fortunately For You Books call a "Mini Wall of Time."

Alisdair and I both learned a lot and it was also a good "taking off point" for some interesting conversations.  Since Alisdair did not know what rheumatic fever was, having never heard of it before, I suggested he call his Grandfather and ask him about his own experience with this illness many years ago.  After Grandpa was done telling Alisdair about his own sufferings with this illness, Grandma told Alisdair about her sister Charlotte having been bedridden during much of her teen years due to this ailment.

Now, after having learned a little about J. R. R. Tolkien, we will have to find the time to read some of his incredible literary works!

Biography Page - J. R. R. Tolkien

Completed "Wall of Time" puzzle

CURRICULUM ~ Remember Me Pockets: January ~ AUTHORS: A. A. Milne

Alan Alexander Milne was born January 18, 1882 in London, England.  He is, of course, the author of the beloved Winnie-the-Pooh stories, which he wrote in the mid to late 1920's.  The tales of Winnie stemmed from a poem, first published in Vanity Fair, called "Vespers."  The poem featured his son, Christopher Robin Milne.  The cute little bear who was very chubby eventually was expanded upon to create the delightful tales so many children have enjoyed.

Since A. A. Milne was born in January, he is included in the Remember Me Pocket for Authors for this month.  There is an "Author Biography" (photo below) and an activity puzzle to remember important information about him.  Little puzzle pieces were cut out and glued in the appropriate places to create "A Line of Time for A. A. Milne."  Alisdair enjoyed completing this, although he could guess which answer went where without even having to refer to the actual Biography.  However, the next activity (for author J. R. R. Tolkien) was much more challenging!

Biography Page - A. A. Milne


SPEECH ARTS - Battlefords Kiwanis Music Festival Registration

The sounds of music will soon be in the air as Festival season approaches.  The Battlefords Kiwanis Music Festival registration entry deadline was Saturday, January 22nd and Alisdair is scheduled to perform in three classes. The 2011 Festival will mark the 80th year that the event has been held in the Battlefords.  Other nearby festivals are held in Unity and Lloydminster.

Alisdair will be participating in the Speech Arts section which will be held sometime during the week of March 29 through April 3 (which is when all Voice performances will take place.).  The festival will carry on with Piano from April 2nd through 5th, Strings on April 8th and Band instruments will be showcased from April 10th through 13th.

Alisdair will be performing in:

SACRED READING - (12 years and under) - Matthew 25:31 to 40
(He does not have to memorize this passage and can have a Bible with him).

PUBLIC SPEAKING - Participants are to write their own speech and can use cue cards to aid in the presentation.  Alisdair plans to write a speech about what it is like to be a Star-Phoenix paper carrier.

POETRY - (12 years and under) - Own Choice - Sir Smasham Uppe by E. V. Rieu
Alisdair will have to memorize the poem and then recite it with expression for the adjudicator.

This is the text:

Good afternoon, Sir Smasham Uppe!
We're having tea: do take a cup!
Sugar and milk? Now let me see-
Two lumps, I think?...Good gracious me!
The silly thing slipped off your knee!
Pray don't apologise, old chap;
A very trivial mishap!
So clumsy of you? How absurd!
My dear Sir Smasham, not a word!
Now do sit down and have another,
And tell us all about your brother-
You know, the one who broke his head.
Is that poor fellow still in bed?-
A chair - allow me, sir!...Great Scott!
That was a nasty smash! Eh, what?
Oh, not at all: the chair was old-
Queen Anne, or so we have been told.
We've got at least a dozen more:
Just leave the pieces on the floor.
I want you admire our view:
Come nearer to the window, do;
And look how beautiful...Tut, tut!
You didn't see that it was shut?
I hope you are not badly cut!
Not hurt? A fortunate escape!
Amazing! Not a single scrape!
And now, if you have finished tea,
I fancy you might like to see
A little thing or two I've got.
That china plate? Yes, worth a lot:
A beauty too...Ah, there it goes!
I trust it didn't hurt your toes?
Your elbow brushed it off the shelf?
Of course: I've done the same myself.
And now, my dear Sir Smasham - Oh,
You surely don't intend to go?
You must be off? Well, come again.
So glad you're fond of porcelain!

Even Mrs. Porter is getting on the Speech Arts bandwagon -- with her own adult poetry recitation to prepare (which is intended to be a big surprise for my Father!)  Wish us both luck!

According to The Canadian Encyclopedia, the Saskatchewan Music Festival Association is a "co-ordinating body founded in 1908 to promote the appreciation, performance, and study of music through competition festivals and concerts. Its first festival, a one-day event which drew 25 entries, was held at Regina in 1909. Over the years the festival has expanded from 1909's single one-day event to 49 separate festivals attracting more than 20 000 entries from across the province."

"Affiliated with the University of Saskatchewan, the SMFA opened its first office in Indian Head, moving to Saskatoon in 1912 and Regina in 1957. Early administrators were Fred Chisholm (1908-1912), Norman Palmer (1912-47) and Roy Aitkenhead (1947-57). Its affairs have been governed by a volunteer board of directors and administered by a salaried staff from its inception. Executive directors have included Gordon Hancock (1958-76), Kathleen Keple (1976-82), Doris Covey Lazecki (1982-2005) and Carol Donhauser (2005-). It receives funding from Saskatchewan Lotteries as part of the network assisted by the Saskatchewan Trust for Sport, Culture and Recreation, and Saskatchewan Culture, Multiculturalism and Recreation."
"The continuing programs of the SMFA include the preparation of test music selections for and publication of the annual syllabus, and the hiring and co-ordination of 150 adjudicators. In its primary role as a central support group, the SMFA is responsible for co-ordinating the 49 local festivals, provincial finals and national playoffs, workshops, the concerto competition and the Canadian composer series (a series of non-competitive classes featuring the works of one Canadian composer, usually from Saskatchewan), and since 1987 the Artist-in-Residence Program with the Saskatchewan Choral Federation. The central office archives are also the association's responsibility. The SMFA has viewed its role as one of supporting and supplementing the existing music education network in Saskatchewan. Its publication, Festival Focus, is published jointly with the Saskatchewan Registered Music Teachers' Association Opus. "

"In 1955 the SMFA offered 8 awards and scholarships; in 2005 it offered 56, many established to honour Saskatchewan musicians. (Local festivals also have offered hundreds of awards.) Test pieces, chosen each year for the fall syllabus, have included pieces by Saskatchewan composers. In 2006 the syllabus featured over 1 000 classes, for school and community choirs, orchestras and bands, for solo voices, and for instruments."

"In 1979 a concerto competition was inaugurated to honour the 71st anniversaries of the SMFA and the Regina Symphony Orchestra. First prize was a $1000 scholarship and an opportunity to perform with the orchestra in the upcoming season. The Gordon C. Wallis Memorial Opera Competition began in 2000 and alternates each year with the Concerto Competition in either Regina or Saskatoon. The association hosted the CIBC National Music Festival in 1984 and again in 1990. In 2005, apart from a wartime suspension of activities 1915-19, the association's record of activity was unbroken."


For the first couple weeks of January, the website CurrClick had a "Winter Whisper" sale.  This was a non-advertised (other than by word of mouth) sale with several featured items available for download at no cost.  One of the items Alisdair and I wanted to try were the "Remember Me Pockets" for each month from Fortunately For You Books.  For the duration of the sale, (which is now over),  the January materials were free.

The description of this product, on the Currclick website, is as follows:

"Believing that God can use any event or person to teach us something, "Fortunately For You Books" has created a new "Remember Me Pockets" line for special remembrances all through the month.  Some of the activities will be fun, some are historical and more reflective.  The "Remember Me Pocket for January" uses all of the formats designed by FFYB for assessments.  Authors who celebrate their birthdays in January are given a pocket of their own.  Other pockets include "Remember Me Weekly," and "Remember Me Daily."  Even children who have their birthday in January have a special place in a pocket.  This month's observances include:


A. A. Mile (Winnie the Pooh) - Highlighted
J. R. R. Tolkien (The Hobbit) - Highlighted
Charles Perrault (Sleeping Beauty) - Highlighted
Michael Bond (Paddington Bear)
Jack London (Call of the Wild)
Thornton Burgess (The Adventures of Peter Cottontail)
Edgar Allen Poe (Poetry)
Phyllis Naylor (Shiloh)
Lewis Carroll (The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland)


Jackie Robinson
Betsy Ross
George Washington Carver
Benjamin Franklin
Thomas Paine
Sir Isaac Newton
Paul Jackson Pollack
Wolfgang Mozart


National Oatmeal Month
National Hot Tea Month
National Letter Writing Week
National Fresh Squeezed Juice Week
Holocaust Memorial Day
Toffee Day
Inspire Your Heart With Art Day
Remembering Roe vs. Wade Day
National Bird Day
National Answer Your Cat's Questions Day
Natioional Pie Day
National Trivia Day
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

From the above description, I was a bit confused about what this product actually was.  They take two pieces of cardstock and cut, glue and label them to make a pocket.  Then the other items, created for the various activities, are stored inside.  Perhaps we can showcase some of the the specific activities, in another post, to give more clarity on this product.

We have already covered the activities for the authors A. A. Milen, J. R. R. Tolkien and Charles Perrault; and those for National Oatmeal Month, National Hot Tea Month, and National Fresh Squeezed Juice Week.  We have enjoyed putting our pockets together, thus far, and have learned a wide variety of things.  It's unfortunate that we didn't download this at the beginning of the month as now we are playing "catch up" with only five days left to complete the rest of the items.  We haven't decided yet if we will order the Remember Me Pockets for the remainder of the year.  One month at a time...

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

SKETCH TUESDAY - Draw Something Ugly!

Alisdair finished his contribution to this week's Sketch Tuesday Slideshow just minutes before the deadline.  The assignment was to draw something that was ugly.

Alisdair drew a picture of an animal and wrote the slogan "Killing for fun is an ugly sight.  Don't do it."  In another speech bubble it says "We should eat the meat" and another bubble says "No!  Let's just see the inside!"

Sketch Tuesday - "Killing for fun is an ugly sight!"
If you click in the above link, you can watch the whole show.  Next week's topic - Sketch something that you would study in Science.  Anyone can contribute, so get out your pens and paper and see what you can create for the next slideshow.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

RHYMES - "Noah's Ark Game" ~ The Phoenix and the Carpet

Three lovely little poems for small children appear in "The Phoenix and the Carpet" on pages 32 and 33.  They are part of a "Noah's Ark" game that I have never heard of before.  I don't know if this is an old fashioned British game, for young children, or if it is something that came solely from Edith Nesbit's own imagination.  She wrote:

"You can always keep the Lamb good and happy for quite a long time if you play the Noah's Ark game with him. It is quite simple. He just sits on your lap and tells you what animal he is, and then you say the little poetry piece about whatever animal he chooses to be.  Of course, some of the animals, like the zebra and the tiger, haven't got any poetry, because they are so difficult to rhyme to. The Lamb knows quite well which are the poetry animals.

'I'm a baby bear!' said the Lamb, snugging down; and Anthea began:

'I love my little baby bear,
I love his nose and toes and hair;
I like to hold him in my arm,
And keep him VERY safe and warm.'

And when she said 'very', of course there was a real bear's hug.

Then came the eel, and the Lamb was tickled till he wriggled exactly like a real one:

'I love my little baby eel,
He is so squidglety to feel;
He'll be an eel when he is big -
But now he's just - a - tiny SNIG!'

Perhaps you didn't know that a snig was a baby eel? It is, though, and the Lamb knew it. 'Hedgehog now-!' he said; and Anthea went on:

A Hedgehog
'My baby hedgehog, how I like ye,
Though your back's so prickly-spiky;
Your front is very soft, I've found,
So I must love you front ways round!'

And then she loved him front ways round, while he squealed with pleasure.

It is a very baby game, and, of course, the rhymes are only meant for very, very small people - not for people who are old enough to read books, so I won't tell you any more of them.

By the time the Lamb had been a baby lion and a baby weasel, and a baby rabbit and a baby rat, mother was ready; and she and the Lamb, having been kissed by everybody and hugged as thoroughly as it is possible to be when you're dressed for out-of-doors, were seen to the tram by the boys."

I, for one, wish Nesbit HAD told her readers a few more of these delightful poems!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

SPANISH - Dora's Perfect Pumpkin

Isobel has been sick -- again!  It seems like it is a relapse of the bronchitis she was suffering from before Christmas.  As a result of the heavy chest and coughing fits, she has had to miss Kindergarten and the regular Monday ballet session.

Trying to find activities for her to do, we went to the library and borrowed several Level One "Ready-To-Read" books which are printed by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division.

One of these was "Dora's Perfect Pumpkin" by Kirsten Larsen.  The book has little icons for words that are repeated -- like DORA, PIE, PUMPKIN, etc.  One of these icons is for "Abuela" and it is this strange person, "Abuela" that is baking the pumpkin pie. 

I was reading the book and said, as an aside, "I don't know who this 'Abuela' is," and Isobel astounded me by informing me that "ABUELA is DORA's Grandmother.  That's how you say Grandma in Spanish!"

Doesn't she look like a kindly grandmother??
Wow ~ !  A five year old that knows more than her Mum!  Once I had that tidbit of information, the whole heartwarming story made complete sense!

I wonder how many other Spanish words she has casually learned...

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

FIELD TRIP - The Battlefords Homeschool Association

We had errands to do and so we decided, on the spur of the moment, to take the opportunity to go to an event planned by the Battlefords Homeschooling Association.  They were meeting at the Territorial Drive Alliance Church from 2 until 4 p.m. for sports in the gym or board games and cards in the Fellowship Hall.  When we called Eva to rearrange Alisdair's German lesson, she suggested we could take Roland along.  He is also homeschooled (due to a liver transplant and not wanting to be exposed to germs).

There were three other families there -- and the boys enjoyed playing a bit of informal floor hockey, trying to shoot a few baskets and then they played UNO and Yatzee.  The group are planning to have another get-together on Tuesday, February 8th. 

One of the ladies is the organizer for the four planned ski trips to Table Mountain.  So it was nice to meet them and get more information about these events that are especially for homeschoolers.  It's kind of nice living half way between the two homeschooling groups -- so we can participate with the folks in Lloydminster when it is convenient and with the Battlefords Association, too!

Friday, 14 January 2011

CONTESTS - Alisdair "Comes Up Trumps!" ~ My Favourite Book Contest

It all started so long ago that we were a bit perplexed yesterday when a small package was crammed into our mailbox addressed to Alisdair.  The return address stamp said it was from the Saskatchewan Library Association in Regina - and I was quite sure it was not a reward for having overdue books!

Upon opening, Alisdair discovered he was one of many lucky winners in a contest CBC Radio sponsored back in October to celebrate "Library Week."  (See blog post "CBC Celebrates Library Week - October 15/2010)  His entry had singled out his Granny Jeannie's book on education as his favourite.

His prize?  What else?  A book!

The enclosed letter said:

Congratulations!  Your entry for the My Favourite Book Contest has been selected as one of the winning entries!

This year, The Afternoon Edition at CBC Radio One received nearly 1,000 entries from all over the province.  Thanks to various Canadian publishers and the help of SaskEnergy, we are able to select more winners than just those read on-air and we are pleased to present you with this book as a prize.  Keep on reading, and we look forward to your entry in next year's contest.


Kirsten Hansen
Program Adminstrator

The book was:

Island I: Shipwreck
By Gordon Korman
Ages 8 to 13
Scholastic Canada Ltd.
0-439-16456-7 Pbk

Six kids. One fate.
They didn't want to be on the boat in the first place. They were sent there as a character-building experience. But now the adults are gone, the quest for survival has begun.

There are two other books in the trilogy - Island II: Survival and Island III: Escape and apparently both are available through the local library.  Our local librarian (who encouraged us to enter the Favourite Book Contest in the first place) was delighted to hear of the win and informed us that a local girl was also a book prize winner.

Once we finish the E. Nesbit trilogy, we can begin reading the prize winning book, Island: Shipwreck.  Until then, we'll just have to imagine the adventures that lie between its pages!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

HISTORY - Nostradamus and a Modern Prediction...



As part of today's lesson about Mary, Queen of Scots, we did a little research into the life of Nostradamus.   Alisdair was completing one of the components for his lapbook and had to answer three questions:

1) When and where did he live?
     Born 1503 and died 1566.  Lived in France.

2) What was he famous for?
     He was an astrologer and a physician.
     He also wrote rhymed prophecies.

3) What do you think of him?
     He sounds like a strange man and his prophecies might be a hoax!

The notes that accompany the Homeschool Share templates tell us, "There was some amount of tension between Mary [Queen of Scots] and Francis’s mother, Catherine de Medici. Queen Catherine had her own personal alchemist, who was a master of poisons as well. Mary was often wondering who might be poisoned next. She also hired the astrologer Nostradamus who was supposed to have amazing powers of prediction. The two queens did eventually learn to tolerate, if not respect, each other."

According to  The Discover France website  "Nostradamus was consulted by Catherine de Medici — who shared his penchant for astrology — regarding the fate of her husband, King Henry II, as well as that of her three sons. His predictions that her husband would be killed in a joust, and that she would outlive each of her sons through their consecutive successions on the throne, were proved true. It was largely as a result of his protection by Catherine de Medici that Nostradamus was allowed to remain free to pursue his scientific studies and to publish his dire but accurate prophecies."

After our discussion and Alisdair's completion of the questions, I put on my coat and said, "I have a prediction to make."

"What is it Mum?," Alisdair asked.

"I predict your papers will soon be done," I replied.

"That sounds like it might be true, Mum," he said, laughingly, as I went outside to start the car in the -23 degree weather, and then went on to deliver the news to the 20 subscribers.

So, tell me -- who really needs Nostradamus, anyway?

BOOKS - "Horrid Henry" Series

The copy we borrowed had different artwork on the cover.
Alisdair was watching a British television show from CITV (Childrens' ITV) and when he went to their website, he found a "Horrid Henry" game.  From there, he learned there is a UK television series about this character, as well as several books detailing the adventures of "Horrid Henry."  Alisdair asked me to check the inter-library loan catalogue to see if any of these books were available.  We found several listings and ordered the initial book, which arrived yesterday.  We read the entire four chapter book through in just one sitting and immediately ordered two more in the series from the library. (The text was printed in a large font and there were many pen and ink, black and white drawings scattered throughout.)  Of course, Horrid Henry was especially appealing to Alisdair because it is British -- and they use the spelling "Mum" and use British words like "jumper" for "sweater."

Horrid Henry has a brother -- Perfect Peter.  He also has a neighbour, Moody Margaret.  Perhaps the series is so popular because we can all see ourselves (or our children) in the triumphs and failures of Horrid Henry.

Henry's tale, by author Francesca Simon, begins like this:

"Henry was horrid.  Everyone said so, even his mother.  Henry threw food, Henry snatched, Henry pushed and shoved and pinched.  Even his teddy avoided him when possible.  His parents despaired.  'What are we going to do about that horrid boy?' sighed Mum.  'How did two people as nice as us have such a horrid child?' sighed Dad.  When Horrid Henry's parents took Henry to school they walked behind him and pretended he was not theirs.  Children pointed at Henry and whispered to their parents, 'That's Horrid Henry.'  'He's the boy who threw my jacket in the mud.'  'He's the boy who squashed Billy's beetle.'  'He's the boy who . . . ' Fill in whatever terrible deed you like.  Horrid Henry was sure to have done it." 

Upon further investigation, we located Horrid Henry's website.  It offers more information about the various books, jokes, downloads and other fun activities for children.

Alisdair says:

Henry, who is also known as “Horrid Henry” is a hit in the UK and I can see why! He even has an iphone app (you are special if you have one about you) available from iTunes. The advertising says it makes rude noises (like burps) so don't get your child an iphone, or you might be bugged by this!  The books have easy text, that is simple to understand and is funny.  They are “horrible” (that’s awesome in Horrid Henry’s language!) I would recommend this book to boys who like to hear stories about boys that are bad. Henry has a brother “Perfect Peter”.  To learn more about Henry and his family click here.  (This is a different website than the link shown above.)

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

QUOTE - Thomas A. Edison's Outlook on Work...

Edison with his phonograph
I never did a day's work in my life. It was all fun.
-Thomas A. Edison

ART - Sketch Tuesday - 'T' is for Teddy Bear

"T is for Teddy Bear" - First Sketch Tuesday entry

I'm not quite sure how I first came across "Harmony Art Mom's" blog.  She has instituted something called "Sketch Tuesday" and gets others involved in her project.

It is easier to copy and paste Barb's explanation of "Sketch Tuesday" than to come up with my own description of this weekly event.  She explains:  

What is Sketch Tuesday?


Every Tuesday I post a new sketch assignment on the Harmony Art Mom blog. Everyone is welcome to sketch and you do not need to sign up to participate. You can participate every week or as often as you wish since there is no commitment. I try to make the assignments open-ended so your child can interpret the assignment in a way that works for them. Every sketch is included in the slideshow so please send them in to share with other families.Parents are welcome to sketch and submit to the slideshow too.

How Do I Participate?

  • 1. Read the assignment in the Tuesday blog entry.
  • 2. Complete the assignment. Adults are welcome to sketch as well so feel free to sketch alongside your children.
  • 3. You may add a child's name and age to the sketch if you wish. I prefer that no other information be written on the sketches.
  • 4. Scan or photograph your sketch. Flickr has a size limit of 500 MB per image.
  • 5. Send in the image in JPEG format to: Make sure to pay attention to the deadline which is Monday evening. I try my best to include late assignments but I cannot promise to always do so if you are too late. Please limit it to one sketch per person. If you can send in your sketch over the weekend, it would help me out greatly.
  • 6. Come back the next Tuesday and see the slideshow! If you access the slideshow before you see the blog entry up on Tuesday mornings, it is more than likely not complete.
The only other requirement is to have fun sketching!

Note added 7/3/10: I am receiving an increasing amount of sketches that go to my SPAM box. Some of you are sending an email with blank subject lines and not typing anything in the body of the email and I think my email system recognizes it as SPAM. When you send in your sketches, could you please put Sketch Tuesday in the subject line and then in the body of the email please type something even if it just says that it is for Sketch Tuesday or the number of sketches attached? It might make a difference. Thanks for your extra effort.

Here are all the past Sketch Tuesday blog entries:
Sketch Tuesday Assignments

This past week, the assignment was to Sketch something beginning with the Letter 'T.' At first Alisdair was going to draw a Tram.  But then he decided a teddy bear was more appropriate for him to draw as he loves his Braw Wee Bears from Scotland!  And so we submitted the sketch at the top of this blog post.  Perhaps seeing his artwork on the Sketch Tuesday slideshow will be the encouragement Alisdair needs to try drawing on a more regular basis.

The Sketch Tuesday slideshow for this week is ready to view.  Click on the title Terrific T and you'll be rewarded with Alisdair's teddy bear ~ as well as colourful tigers, trees, toast, turtles, a trophy, and a host of other things that begin with the letter "T."  You'll also find next week's assignment - to sketch something you can make with water.

Get out your pencil and paper and get sketching!  When you're finished, check out the Harmony Art Mom blog for inspiration and advice from a seasoned Homeschooling Mom! 

Monday, 10 January 2011

CHARITY ~ The Bible League of Canada ~ Children's Ministry in India

A smiling child
Today was "payday" for The Star Phoenix paper carriers.  Alisdair has decided to make a small charitable donation each month to a different worthy cause.  This month he decided to send a cheque to The Bible League of Canada for their Children's Ministry in India (click on link for information on The Bible League of Canada's website). The group sponsor Children's Bible Clubs.  These are eagerly welcomed into communities in India, particularly in the rural areas where children cannot attend school. Many of the participants are led to Christ, and their changed lives often impact family members.

You can reach The Bible League of Canada at:
Box 5037
L7R 3Y8
Tel: 905.319.9500 (local)
Toll-free: 1.800.363.WORD (9673)
Fax: 905.319.0484

Sunday, 9 January 2011

REFLECTIONS - New "Sanitized" Edition of Huckleberry Finn to be Published

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. Mark Twain at

Earlier this week, while delivering papers, I noticed a headline announcing a new "sanitized" edition of the classic "Huckleberry Finn" was in the works.  Then today, when we were driving to Lloydminster (the semi had to be taken to the repair shop and after dropping it off, John needed a ride home), I was listening to Cross Country Check-Up on CBC with Rex Murphy.  The topic for discussion was this new book and what people thought about it.  Murphy talked to Suzanne La Rosa, the publisher of the new edition, as well as various teachers, English professors, young people currently studying the book -- the whole gamut.

A few years ago, for my Father's birthday, we went to the Barn Playhouse near Saskatoon to watch a dramatic performance of "Huckleberry Finn."  As it was family-type entertainment, I hadn't really thought about the book as controversial.  At any rate, the latest media coverage makes me think I should order a copy from the local library and read this book, so I can better decide for myself whether the publication of this new volume is a good thing (as Martha Stewart would say) or a negative form of censorship.  Despite my Bachelor's degree in English, there are so many good books that I haven't actually read.  Maybe, once we have finished the trilogy of E. Nesbit books,  Alisdair and I should read "Huckleberry Finn" as one of our "read alouds." I might have read it years ago, but I honestly can't recall if I have actually done so.

What do you think? Is taking the n-word and other slurs out of Mark Twain censorship, or a step in the right direction in terms of getting younger people better acquainted with literature of the U.S. Civil War era? If you wish to do so, leave your thought in the comments.

I have copied (below) an article about the new edition of "Huckleberry Finn" from "The National Post":

New edition of Huckleberry Finn to replace ‘n-word’ with ‘slave’

Mark Twain, left, with his friend John Lewis in 1903.
Mark Twain, left, with his friend John Lewis in 1903.

  January 4, 2011 – 12:16 pm
Publishers Weekly reported on Monday that a soon to be released edition of Mark Twain’s classic of American literature, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, will replace all instances of the ‘n-word,’ “the singularly offensive word” used to refer to African Americans throughout the late 19th-century text. Editors have also decided to do away with the word “injun,” replacing it as well with “slave.”

NewSouth Books, who’ve been working with Twain scholar and Auburn University at Montgomery professor Alan Gribben, say they are taking the unprecedented measure as a means of reviving 21st century interest in the book, not as “an effort to render Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn colorblind,” Gribben says. He also notes:
“Race matters in these books. It’s a matter of how you express that in the 21st century …
And after discussing his mother’s use of the slur during his youth, and his subsequent move to the U.S. South to raise a family, Gribben went on to say:
“My daughter went to a magnet school and one of her best friends was an African-American girl. She loathed the book, could barely read it.”
The Publishers Weekly article went on to remark that the slur appears 219 times in the original Twain text, and that NewSouth’s publisher, Suzanne La Rosa, knew that the charge of censorship would crop up:
“We recognized that some people would say that this was censorship of a kind, but our feeling is that there are plenty of other books out there — all of them, in fact — that faithfully replicate the text, and that this was simply an option for those who were increasingly uncomfortable, as he put it, insisting students read a text which was so incredibly hurtful.”
Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn: The NewSouth Edition will be a US$24.95 hardcover, with the publisher aiming to have the book on on U.S. shelves by February.

POEM - Dedication to "The Phoenix and the Carpet"

Just one Chapter left in "Five Children and It,"
 so will probably start this one today....
Not sure why I like these little poems on the dedication pages of Edith Nesbit's books, but I do!

"The Phoenix and the Carpet" is dedicated to her "dear godson, Hubert Griffith and his sister, Margaret" and the poem is as follows:

Dear Hubert, if I ever found
A wishing carpet lying round,
I'd stand upon it, and I'd say
"Take me to Hubert, right away!"
And then we'd travel very far
To where the magic countries are
That you and I will never see,
And choose the loveliest gifts for you, from me.

But oh!  alack! and well-a-day!
No wishing carpets come my way.
I never found a Phoenix yet,
And Psammeads are so hard to get!
So I can give you nothing fine
Only this book, your book and mine,
And hers, whose name by yours is set;
Your book, my book, the book of Margaret!

September 1904

Saturday, 8 January 2011

POEM - Dedication to "Five Children and It"

Mothers, the world over, lament their children are growing up too quickly.  The same, no doubt, rang true for the author, E. Nesbit as observed on the flyleaf of "Five Children and It."  The book, first published in 1902,  is dedicated to JOHN BLAND, who most likely was her son (Edith Nesbit was married to a Hubert Bland and she had a "growing family").  With Isobel already in Kindergarten and learning her letters, I can concur with the sentiments in this poem:

My Lamb, you are so very small,
You have not learned to read at all.
Yet never a printed book withstands
The urgence of your dimpled hands.
So, though this book is for yourself,
Let mother keep it on the shelf
Till you can read. O days that pass,
That day will come too soon, alas!

Alisdair and I began reading "Five Children and It" on Tuesday afternoon and we are almost finished already ~ just two chapters left! And then it is on to "The Phoenix and the Carpet" ~ so many exciting adventures, we can't help reading onward to find out what will happen next!

Thursday, 6 January 2011

LAPBOOKS - Mary, Queen of Scots ~ Queen Without a Country

As a half-Scottish lad, Alisdair said he wanted to study about Scotland and its people.  After a brief search at the Homeschool Share website, I found a Unit Study on Mary Queen of Scots.  It is based on the book, "Mary, Queen of Scots ~ Queen Without a Country" by Kathryn Lasky (which centers around her childhood) and "Mary, Queen of Scots" by Jacob Abbott (which is available online here), that tells more about her adulthood.  The latter is a very old text, having been "prepared by volunteers associated with Heritage-History, using as a copytext, the book by Mr. Abbott, which was printed by New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1860. (Originally published in 1848)."

The Homeschool Share Unit is broken down into 13 lessons which cover the major events in Mary's life.  There are lapbook components for each lesson and also questions for each of the sections.  Today I read all the information from the Homeschool Share website (templates here) to Alisdair, so he now has some overall idea about what transpired and what questions he will be asked to answer.

I was especially pleased to see how everything we have studied thus far, "dovetails" perfectly with this work.  In Lesson One, the notes state that "Mary saw a renewed interest in fine arts and viewed the works of artists such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael" (all artists we have been working on). In Lesson Two they speak of "Michelangelo's Surprise" (the lapbook we have partially completed) as Mary married Francis, the son of King Henry II and Queen Catherine de Medici.  The Medici family of Italy featured prominently in the Michelangelo book, so this gives more context.  Then, back in November, when we studied about Guy Fawkes, Alisdair had a colouring picture of James VI of Scotland and James I of England.  Of course he was Mary, Queen of Scots son!  It is nice to see all the loose ends tying themselves together to present the bigger picture.  I'd like to claim this was all due to my methodical planning - but it is delightful happenstance!

Alisdair completed the first lapbook component for Lesson One today - a map of Europe.  He coloured Scotland in blue, England in red and France in pink.  He also answered questions about the origins of Mary's parents and Francis' parents; where the Reformation took place; and noted where Mary was born; where she moved when she was five; and where she died.

Outside Cover of mini book

Map and initial questions
A good start, indeed!

QUOTATION - "... And No Rabbits Caught" ~ From "Five Children and It"

Alisdair is enjoying the stories from "Five Children and It" and we have now finished Chapter 6, with five more to go... We finish one chapter and he begs for more.  I suppose that's a good thing! 

In Chapter 6 - "A Castle and No Dinner" we came upon an interesting expression.  Martha, one of the servants is talking to another and says:  "Now, Eliza, come, get on with them beds.  Here's ten o'clock nearly and no rabbits caught" (Page 113). The next sentence goes on to explain:  "People say that in Kent when they mean 'and no work done'."

I stopped reading and told Alisdair we would have to remember that saying, as often I feel like the day is getting away on us and we haven't accomplished as much as we should have done.  Getting the newspapers delivered is a good example of this!  So, next time the clock is waxing onward and we haven't gotten as much done as we would have liked, I'll have to say "... and no rabbits caught!"

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

LAPBOOKS - Michelangelo's Surprise - PART II

Cover of the actual book reproduced for the lapbook cover
Yesterday Alisdair made three more little mini books for his Michelangelo's Surprise lapbook (to add to the pile we had already completed.)  Then we began gluing the components into the folder itself.  We still have more books to complete, but it is nice to get some of them attached so they are all together and not getting misplaced!  The red square at the bottom with the gold tie contains little mini pictures of some of Michelangelo's artwork.  Alisdair also completed a Michelangelo themed crossword puzzle today.  It contained some interesting facts.

Completed crossword

I didn't know, for example, that the Sistine Chapel ceiling covered one thousand square yards!  That's a lot of area.  Michelangelo was apprenticed to a famous painter when he was twelve years old, so Alisdair and I joked that he would be sent to paint ceilings in September, of this year, when he turns twelve.  He was willing to "give it a go" and thought he could probably draw "naked stick men!"  Michelangelo spent twenty years designing tombs and a chapel for the Medicis, an influential Italian family.  This puzzle (and many others) are available at this website.  I have also printed off several activities for Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and other people we hope to study this year.

Here are some photos of the first section of our lapbook.  I'll post some additional photos when we have completed this project in its entirety.

First flap and first folder
(We put two folders together to allow for additional worksheets)

Inside of the "Speaking Italian" mini book
(Italian flag with talking head on it)

Close-up of artwork samples

BOOKS - Five Children and It ~ By: Edith Nesbit

Book One of a Trilogy
At last we have finished the second half of "The Bastables" - which was "The Wouldbegoods."  Alisdair and I thought it was even better than the first half which was titled "The Story of the Treasure Seekers."  It was New Years Eve and we only had two chapters left to read.  I was going to try to finish the book off, but Alisdair didn't want the stories to end, so he wanted to string it out as long as possible!  But we DID finish it yesterday.  When we were done, he kindly walked to the library to return the book, all on his own.  There is another book in the series, called "The New Treasure Seekers," but we will have to wait to receive it through inter-library loans.

Meanwhile we have begun a three book trilogy by the same author.  The first book is called "Five Children and It."  We have finished the second chapter and, although the characters are different children than in the previous two books, Alisdair and I are finding it equally delightful and perhaps a bit easier to read and understand.

The back cover gives this summary:

"While their parents are away, Robert, Anthea, Cyril and Jane start digging a hole to Australia to see if it's true that people on the other side of the world walk upside down.  They don't get far, however, before they dig up a furry brown creature with bat's ears.  It is a Psammead, an ancient Sand-fairy."

"The Sammyadd - as the children call it - grumpily tells them that it is forced to grant their wishes, because that is what Sand-fairies do.  There's just one catch:  The wishes will come undone at sunset."

"No matter how carefully the children plan, the wishes keep turning about - like Robert's wish that everyone would love the Lamb, his baby brother, which leads to the Lamb's nearly being kidnapped."

"E. Nesbit's comic fantasy is clearly a warning to be careful what you wish for - you may get it!"

We have already learned about "golden Spade Guineas" which we then looked up online.  They were a form of British coinage prior to the use of sovereigns and looked like this:

A "Spade Guinea" - 1788

The two other books in the series are:  "The Phoenix and the Carpet" and "The Story of the Amulet" so we shall have plenty of reading material for the days and weeks to come.

Monday, 3 January 2011

BIBLE ~ U B David + I'll Be Jonathan Lessons

When I was about Alisdair's age, I was involved with an organization offering free Bible correspondence classes called "The Mailbox Club."  Fast forward several decades and we were pleased to learn this group still exists, only now they call themselves "U B David + I'll B Jonathan." Alisdair is doing paper lessons via Canada Post, however they also offer online lessons, if that makes participation easier.

The website (see link above) explains their new name as follows:

"U.B. David" refers to anyone who uses these lessons for personal spiritual development. The model is, of course, the David of the Old Testament. The Bible notes seven wonderful character traits which were true of David and which ought to be true of God's people today.

First, David was a person "after [God's] own heart" (1 Samuel 13:14). Here was someone who loved the things God loved, hated the things God hated (sin), chose to do the things God would choose, and desired to do the things God desired.

Second, David was "skillful in playing" (1 Samuel 16:18). This especially referred to his musical ability with the harp. But David was a talented young man in many areas who honed his skills throughout life to be a person of excellence. The question is: who are you going to use your skills for?

Third, David was "a mighty valiant person" (1 Samuel 16:18). He was brave, courageous, gallant, dauntless, lionhearted, drawing strength from the Lord as he faced some giant challenges.

Fourth, David was a "person of war" (1 Samuel 16:18). This may not sound very positive to us but it is a very important quality. David stood for what was right and learned to deal with the enemies of righteousness. He knew how to wage war against the forces that would destroy him and his people. It is a quality we too must have as we war against "the world, the flesh and the devil" (1 John 2).

Fifth, David was "prudent in matters" (1 Samuel 16:18). That is, he had good solid judgment, discretion, carefulness, tact and foresight. Prudence involves the ability to make wise decisions, not simply for short-term benefits but with an eye on future results. David had this quality and it opened the door of expanding opportunities as he matured.

Sixth, David was "a comely person" (1 Samuel 16:18). He was an attractive person, both outwardly and inwardly. This attractiveness was rooted in godly character and internal victory which David enjoyed as he walked with God.

A seventh quality is expressed in the climax description about David: "the LORD is with him" (1 Samuel 16:18). With this assurance of God's presence and blessing it is not surprising that David became such a great man of God.

The desire of our organization is that multiplied thousands of young people would become "Davids" with these seven character qualities.

"I'll B. Jonathan" refers to anyone who helps make this discipling program available and effective for all the "Davids". Again, the model is David's closest friend in Old Testament times, Jonathan, who had an intense commitment to help David become all that God wanted him to become (1 Samuel 18).

UB David & I'll B Jonathan involves a host of volunteers and some staff personnel who mark lesson responses, answer questions, pray, provide counsel, make award plaques, process the mailings and give financially. These praying, giving and living-example "Jonathans" are committed to doing what they can so that thousands of young "Davids" may be encouraged to become the people God intends them to be. Our satisfaction will come when "David" knows the Word of our God (2 Timothy 3:16) and we see Jesus Christ on the throne of his life (Luke 1:32).

For every lesson completed, students receive 100 points and for each book read (and a report turned in), 200 points are given.  At various point levels, different prizes are awarded.  Alisdair now has accumulated 7,600 points (which means he has completed 74 lessons and one comic book).  He has received discount cards totalling $20 off his registration fees for summer camp, as well as other prizes like a music CD, discounts on youth retreats, (which he unfortunately is not yet old enough to attend), and "Certificates of Achievement" when he completes a particular series of lessons.

During the summer, when he went to Regina with his grandparents, Alisdair was able to tour the "U B David + I'll B Jonathan" headquarters on Marquis Crescent.  He was thrilled to discover what happened to his lessons after we mailed them and before they were returned to him with new lessons to complete.

In that last few months, we have been busy doing other things and Alisdair hadn't sent in any lessons for quite a while.  Between Christmas and New Years Alisdair received a letter from the organization, containing a special Christmas lesson.  We completed that today and, even though there was no mail service because of the New Year's holiday, we sent it off this afternoon.
Read the text and complete the question sheet
It's a terrific program for children (of all ages - Isobel has some "See and Do" lessons, too!) and even for adults.  If you know of anyone who would benefit from these Bible lessons, let us know and we will make sure to pass the information on to the administrators in Regina.  Or simply click through the link and get involved directly.