Nature Anatomy: A Book Review

We recently checked a new book Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World out of the library, and Ruthie loves it.  We hope to add Nature Anatomy to our book collection some day soon.

Nature Anatomy A book review

Ruthie and I worked together to write this review.

First, from Ruthie:

I like this book because it tells you so many cool facts.  I like where it tells you information about life cycles.  It also shows you illustrations like leaf identification.  I also like the chapter about different animals.  The book also tells you about plants, rock, the phases of the moon, and other cool diagrams like fossils.  Each topic is only a page or two long.  There are lots of illustrations and diagrams.  At the end of chapters, sometimes there are projects you can do.      

As a mom, I love that Nature Anatomy is packed with science information related to CC memory work.  Ones I’ve noticed just flipping through are phases of the moon, types of rocks, rock and mineral identification, parts of plants and flowers, fungi, parts of the earth, layers of the atmosphere, and cloud types.  There is an entire chapter on different kinds of animals as well as sections on tree and bird identification.

Another feature I enjoy is that the book uses illustrations instead of photographs.  Because of this, my children like to try to copy the pictures into their nature journals.  Elijah’s drawing of the rock cycle helped him to learn how the rocks are all related to each other.  By the time he was done drawing, he really had a much firmer grasp on this concept.

Sketches from Nature Anatomy

There are two aspects of this book someone might not like.  The one down-side to this book might be that a number of the diagrams include cursive writing.  I actually like it because my older two have been working on writing in cursive.  I love that they are now trying to read more in cursive.

The other down-side is that there isn’t a good index for the book.  When you read the chapter headings, it does list topics covered in the chapters, but a complete index in the book would have been a nice feature.

This book is new this year.  The author and illustrator also made a book previously called Farm Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of Country Life.  While our library doesn’t have Farm Anatomy, I think we would enjoy it as well.  It includes so much of farm life and rural living.  Even though our family isn’t exactly a city family, we definitely don’t know all the information found in this book.  I hope to get to read this one as well.

Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World is a fun and educational book the whole family can enjoy!


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A Near-Disaster From The Library

I had a near-disaster from the library recently.

A Near-disaster from the library

My son wanted to read a book about World War II.  Knowing how much my daughter has enjoyed the Dear America series, I thought I would get a book from the “boy version” of the same series called My Name is America.

When we got the book, The Journal of Scott Pendalton Collins: A World War 2 Soldier, from the library , I felt the urge to flip through it.  I really think it was the Holy Spirit prompting me.  Usually when we get books from series that we know, I don’t think anything of handing them to the kids and letting them read away.  That book, though, I decided to preview briefly.

In less than a minute, I found at least 3 sexual references.  I also saw at least 2 gambling stories.  Both were treated in a very flippant, accepting manner.  (If something that is sin is treated as sin, we wouldn’t necessarily avoid a book.)  This is a book that is supposed to be aimed at 9-12 year old boys.

When we got home, I looked up the book on Amazon.  Other reviews also mentioned that there are very graphic descriptions on war (guts, blood, loss of limbs).

Needless to say, we’re not going to read it.  We did get a chance to have a great discussion about why he wouldn’t want to read it.

I am so thankful my son doesn’t have all of that in his head.

Another time recently, we got Calvin and Hobbes from the library.  Thankfully, my son came to me when he saw an inappropriate joke in it.  This one shocked me because I loved Calvin and Hobbes as a child.  We found at least two bad story lines in the book we had – sexual in nature.  I hope to find a Calvin and Hobbes book used somewhere so we can cut out all the inappropriate cartoons and enjoy the funny ones.

Have you ever run across a book that you would warn other moms about?  Please share in the comments below!  

Children’s Books On The Periodic Table

While we have been studying elements and the periodic table with our CC memory work, I wanted to find a few books at the library to go along with the topic.  We will also make element cookies.  Of all the books we checked out, only two really grabbed my children’s attention.  I wanted to shared our favorites in case you are heading to the library too.

Children's Books On The Periodic Table

The Periodic Table (by Scholastic in the “A True Book” series) has a really nice history of the periodic table.  In fact, Ruthie’s favorite part of the book was where it showed Mendeleev’s original version.  This book also includes lots of vocabulary terms we have recently memorized.  There are other True Books about elements, but our library did not have them.

The Periodic Table: Elements with Style! is a fun book about many different elements.  The illustrations help you remember characteristics of the elements.  The writing style of the book is quirky with each element’s page in the first person.  There actually is a newer version called The Complete Periodic Table: All the Elements with Style!, but our library has it on order still.  You also can buy Periodic Table flashcards which appear to have the same text and illustrations as the book (from the preview I could read on Amazon) with just a few words cut out to make it fit on the cards.  I don’t know if all the elements from the book are included on the flashcards though.

What books have your children enjoyed about the Periodic Table?  


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Math Picture Books

There are lots of great math picture books out there.  I wanted to share some of our favorites from our library.  The books get increasingly more difficult in concepts and reading level as you go through the list – starting with a preschool series and ending with geometry concepts.

Math Picture BooksPreschool/Early Math learning Series:

Great Source Mathstart books have three different levels.  These books are great for learning math concepts at a young age.  I used them more when my older children were preschool age and early elementary, but I want to get them all again for my youngest.  Our library has a large collection of these.  Here are just three titles in the series:

Beep Beep Vroom Vroom! is one of the books in level 1.  This one teaches patterns.

Super Sand Castle Saturday is from level 2 and teaches how to measure.  

Game Time! is from level 3 and focuses on days, weeks, hours, minutes, and seconds.

Math is Categorical Series:

We love Brian P. Cleary’s English books and were really excited to see he had math books as well.  These do a great job of introducing concepts and reinforcing ideas.  All of these are part of the series Math is Categorical.

The titles really clue you in to their subject matter so I didn’t describe each one.  We enjoy the fun cat illustrations and the sing-song rhyming throughout these books as well as the math content.

How Long or How Wide?: A Measuring Guide
On the Scale, a Weighty Tale
A Dollar, a Penny, How Much and How Many?
A Second, a Minute, a Week with Days in It: A Book about Time
The Mission of Addition
The Action of Subtraction
A Fraction’s Goal – Parts of a Whole


Charlesbridge Math Adventures:

The Charlesbridge Math Adventures are geared for a little older children.  The concepts go from upper elementary math into high school math concepts.  I shared about one of the single titles and a series within the Math Adventure series, but there are a number of others as well.  We have loved all of the books we have read in this series.

 A Place for Zero  is a fun story about the number zero trying to find his place.  It teaches about the Identity Property of Addition, the Zero Property of Multiplication, a x 0 = 0, and place value all during an adventure.  The book mentions words like factors and products as well.

Sir Cumference and the First Round Table is the first Sir Cumference book in a series of fun math adventures in the Middle Ages.  The knights, castles, and dragons add a lot of fun to the series while teaching math concepts.  This book teaches radius, diameter, and circumference.

Other books in this series include:

Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi which teaches an estimation of Pi and where the number comes from using the circumference formula through the book.

Sir Cumference and All the King’s Tens teaches place value up through the thousands place through a story planning a party for the king and having tents to hold the guests.

Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland involves measuring angles with a protractor.

Sir Cumference and the Isle of Immeter works with perimeter and area of a circle.

Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone deals with 3-dimensional objects and is 6th in the series.  (Our library doesn’t have this one so I haven’t had a chance to read it.)

There seem to be new books still being added to this series.  Here’s the whole list.

It seems like every time I search for math picture books, I find new ones to try.  These three series are our favorites so far.  Do you have any math picture books you like?

Sign Language Resources for Kids

We have been reading The Year of Miss Agnes as our latest read aloud.  When we got to the part in the book where Miss Agnes starts to teach a deaf child sign language, my children all decided that they should learn sign language as well.

Since it was our normal library day anyway, we searched for library books to help us learn.  Not only did we find some very helpful library books, but we also remembered a DVD series we watched many years ago.

Sign Language Resources for KidsWe have been enjoying this little introduction to sign language and actually were amazed at what we already have learned just from being in Classical Conversations.

I personally love how motions are related to each other like the difference between mother and grandmother or father and grandfather.

Here are the books we have enjoyed so far:

 Time to Sign: Sign Language for Kids is the easiest of the three books we found.  The pictures are all in color, and there is not a lot of writing per page.  My non-reading child finds this one to be the easiest and can learn just from looking at the pictures.  This book doesn’t have as many words as the other two, but does have over 100 pages of signs.  There aren’t any Christian signs in this book.  An index is included if you are looking for a particular sign.

Sign Language for Kids: A Fun & Easy Guide to American Sign Language is a larger book of signs.  It’s only in black and white.  While there are diagrams of the signs, sometimes I needed the description too in order to figure out how to make the sign.  This book’s larger selection includes geography and science terms as well as Christian terms.

Signing for Kids, Expanded Edition has actual photographs of children making the signs.  This book is in between the first two in it’s number of vocabulary terms.  It does include some Christian words and even has a brief page about how to put together a sign language sentence.

The kids and I have enjoyed looking up a word in all three books to verify we know what we are doing.

The DVD series we found:

Signing Time Volume 1: My First Signs DVD is the first in a collection called Signing Time.  The Signing Time DVDs are grouped into 2 series, each with 13 DVDs.  They actually make Baby Signing Time DVDs as well.  Our library does not have all of these DVDs, but we have enjoyed the first two we got in the last week.  These DVDs are aimed at young children so they may seem a bit juvenile for some kids.  I like how the DVD repeats a sign a number of times to give you practice.  If you don’t want to watch the entire DVD, there actually is a “practice” time you can select from the menu to just review all the signs used in the DVD.  It is sometimes helpful to actually see someone making the signs instead of just looking at pictures in a book.

Are there any resources you would recommend?