Book Review: What We See in the Stars by Kelsey Oseid

Beautiful books are my weakness, space books too. These two weaknesses of mine are perfectly combined in a new book by Kelsey Oseid    –“What We See in the Stars: An illustrated tour of the night  sky”. Kelsey is an American illustrator and amateur naturalist.  The book talks about the space and is breathtakingly beautiful.

The book is split into a few sections-  the one talking about the Constellations by far is the largest. I love how the author talked about origins of Constellations names. The facts about the Milky Way, the moon, the sun, the planets and other celestial bodies follow. The artwork throughout the book is stunning.

Overall impression: 5 stars for beautifully presented facts on space. My children can’t put the book down, it definitely became a treasured past of our home library.

I received this book via in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.


Week’s Roundup: September 14-September 20,2015

Another busy week for us.

Picture of the week:

Hand in hand, deep in conversation, two gnomes walked through the forest

Hand in hand, deep in conversation, two gnomes walked through the forest

What were we up to this week:

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Week’s Roundup: September 7- September 13, 2015

Another week went by.  The fall creeps in our surroundings.

Photo of the week:

on the edge of the color blue

on the edge of the color blue

What were we up to this week?

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BOOK REVIEW: Rain a Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett

I love rain–the sound of rain soothes me. I hate rain– it’s a nightmare to drive in and there are floods, kids go crazy inside too.  I am desperate for rain– it gets so dry in the summer. I am desperate for it to stop– enough already, it’s been a week…Let’s say my relationship with rain is complicated. But generally I don’t give rain much thought other than how it will affect my immediate surroundings. When Rain by Cynthia Barnett fell into my hands, I was amazed to find out how much there is to learn about something as (at first thought) trivial as water falling from the sky .

Rain by Cynthia Barnett

The 300 pages volume contains a wealth of information on meteorology, legends, geography, history and even linguistics of rain. Barnett goes in depth to acquaint her readers with the marvelous and complicated phenomenon that is the rain. The book is split into five parts. The first part Elemental Rain talks about rain’s presence in the world and how the patterns have changed throughout the centuries, it also talks about rain in mythologies and major religions. The second part Chance of Rain talks about history of observing weather, from the very first records to modern system. This chapter also discusses the inventions to protect us from rain. The third part American Rain deals with history of American rain-watching and rain-making of the present day. The fourth chapter Capturing the Rain talks about rain in popular culture, music and literature, architecture, and even the scent! The fifth part Mercurial Rain discusses ecological issues, such as acid rain and climate change.

Wow, what a ride this book is. I am still in process of savoring it, and I can’t get enough! I truly appreciate the wealth of information collected in this volume, it touches a little bit on everything provoking new questions. The language of the book is engaging, Barnett’s writing style pulls readers right in. The books is full of fun facts that fascinated me and my children alike. Something to discuss every day. And how fitting that I got it just as a week-long downpour descended on our part of the world. I think it will be fun to listen to it in audio format too. Wonderful book. Highly Recommended. Five plus stars.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review

Silk Road Study part 1

This week we began our Silk Road Study, this is part one.

We had an awesome visit at Denver Museum of Nature and Science exhibit. It is called Traveling the Silk Road. It was most interesting visit. We got to learn a lot about major stops of the Great Silk Road. We learned about market life, means of transportation, tales and perils.I highly recommend this exhibition, it is on for another month.

Silk Road exhibition

Before visiting the museum we watched TED video about Silk Road

I decided to use Marco Polo’s travels as a guideline for our study. A biography video for Marco Polo can be found here. I got a very good book at the museum’s shop. Marco Polo for Kids: His Marvelous Journey to China by Janise Herbert. This book is great, it talks about Marco Polo’s travels and provides around 20 activities.

Marco Polo for kids book

This week we talked about  Marco setting off on his journey. Children created a medieval map. We looked at a few  old maps and tried to re-create them, not forgetting to include monsters that lurked in the seas and lands long ago. The fact that we visited Mythic Creatures exhibit earlier this week helped a lot. Children painted their maps on paper grocery bags, I made little boats for them out of polymer clay.

medieval map making

medieval map and clay boat

Our next stop this week was Turkey. We located it on the map, learned a bit about its history, practiced saying simple words in Turkish( a video for common words and phrases can be found here)

We talked about carpets that were made there (children actually got a couple of souvenir bookmarks from the exhibition) and children found it fascinating that making of a carpet could take months. We tried cereal box weaving at home.  It is very simple to make a loom cut a large rectangle out of a cardboard box, make notches to string the yarn and start weaving using yarn, fabric or embroidery thread. Children used grandma’s knitting left overs.

cereal box weaving

final result

final result

Children loved this project.

We also visited Denver Mint this week and besides learning how the coins are made, we had a chance to discuss what was used as a payment among the traders of long ago.

This was first part of our learning about the Great Silk Road, stay tuned for more.

September week 2

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We had another good and busy week, posting a little bit late.

Learning at home:

We did our best with planned  lessons and continue to tackle D’s violin (ugh, not easy, but he persists). Kids read a lot and D. started writing poetry again.

Favorite moment: Watching D. struggle with violin, sometimes through tears of frustration, and still not giving up. Also, this week I realized that the day we are most tired are in the end the best. Because it is good tired, from doing a lot, and doing it together.

Learning outside of home:

Kids had a great time in co-op on Friday, and we had our first field trip of school year. With D’s Colorado History class we visited Manitou Cliff Dwellings. It was very fascinating and educational. Now, this is reconstruction and people did not actually live THERE, but it is just like the ruins that were moved on this site and it’s 100% hands on. Kids were able to crawl through the caves and imagine themselves living there. The best pat of the trip to my kids?- The bat hanging from the ceiling in one of the caves 😀

children were able to go into the caves (with adult supervision!) and explore

children were able to go into the caves (with adult supervision!) and explore

Best memory: Driving through rain and fog only to have sun come out in the middle of our field trip, it turned out to be such a gorgeous day! Also little C. was not carsick both ways for the first time in her life (please, please, let her outgrow it finally)

gorgeous views

gorgeous views

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