Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Cozy Corner - Max Edition

I knew this would happen. I knew that we would finish school before I had time to review all the books we read in our Kindergarten curriculum this year. So instead of giving up, I'm going to do a one sentence summary and one sentence review of the rest of the books (13 - yikes!), linking to Amazon in case you are interested in purchasing them.

Are you ready? Here goes nothin'!!

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes - a young girl gets caught up in making fun of a classmate who is obviously very poor yet claims to own 100 dresses and learns a valuable lesson about leadership and compassion.
Kids loved it, even though the protagonist was a girl, and afforded some great opportunities for discussion about how to treat others.

The Family Under the Bridge by Natale Savage Carlson - an old hobo befriends homeless children and selflessly helps them during the Christmas season.
Kids hated this one because the language was over their heads - better for older kids.

Dolphin Adventure by Wayne Grover - a true story about a diver who helps a wounded dolphin underwater. An exciting adventure!
My son ate this one up! He loves dolphins and this is written in pretty simple text, even though it is a chapter book and he hung on every word.

Mary on Horseback by Rosemary Wells - three true stories about a nurse who gave up a typical job to help the mountain people of Appalachia and thus founded the Frontier Nursing Service.
This was a tough one, also. Written in Appalachian dialect, most of the stories went way over the kids heads.

The Story of Doctor Doolittle by Hugh Lofting - come on, you all know this summary. He talks to animals and they go on a grand adventure to Africa.
What kid wouldn't like this story? My kids laughed and loved this book. It is a bit long, 156 pages, with only a few small pictures, so you might have to hold off with your little ones, but my 5 year old didn't struggle.

In Grandma's Attic by Arleta Richardson - my husband read this one to the kids and I eagerly listened while he recounted tales of a mischievous little girl and how she learned valuable lessons from all her mistakes. The stories are told from a grandmother to her granddaughter while she spends time at their house.
Lovely book. Sweet and funny and presented great opportunities to talk with the kids about disobedience, since most of the stories center around the grandmother's stubborn will.

The Light at Tern Rock by Julia L. Sauer - mixed reviews on this one. The story of a young boy who spends his Christmas stuck on a lonely island manning a lighthouse with his aunt.
My kids seemed to not care for this book, but the story was good, in my opinion and the lessons about attitude are priceless. Also, it is short (60 p.) with a decent number of pictures, so it ends up being a quick read. I'll probably keep this to read to them again this year.

The Story about Ping by Marjorie Flack and Kurt Wiese - ultra cute little story about a duck who disobeys and the consequences.
Kids loved this book, very easy level, even the 3 year old didn't get bored!

Five True Dog Stories by Margaret Davidson - the title explains it best . . . focus' on dog's amazing sense of smell, devotion, loyalty, etc . . .
So cute, kids were amazed by the dogs and we had a lot of fun with this book.

Twenty and Ten by Claire Huchet Bishop - a fictional account of a common story during WWII, it is about 20 French students who do their best to hide ten Jewish children from the Nazi's at their remote boarding school.
Great story, but might be a bit dark for small children. It speaks of death and starvation and torture (in an age-appropriate manner) but my son loved it. It sparked many conversations about the war. My 3 year old ignored us while we read this one, though!

The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne - lovely chapter-length stories about Pooh bear and his friends and adventures.
Hate to say it, but my kids had too much trouble following this book and all the different characters, and their mother had too much trouble trying to read it in the different voices (speech major that I was)! So we shelved this book about 1/3 of the way in for when they are a little older and can understand the adult humor.

Richard Scarry's Please and Thank You Book by . . . do I really have to tell you? If you haven't read one of Scarry's many books to your kids, go to the library now and get one! So cute and fun, this book tells how to behave politely using his famous characters.
This book was great and I think you could use it for much younger children, and as a reminder to older kids of what polite behavior should look like!

Are you still with me? One more to go!

A Grain of Rice by Helena Clare Pittman - the story of a poor Chinese boy who, when denied the hand of the princess in marriage, instead asks for a grain of rice, to be doubled every day for 100 days. You can guess what happens!
The math in this book was over my kid's heads, but they enjoyed the story, and it is a short book (65 p.) and the print is large, so it was a quick read.

Well, there you have it. A lot of books to read, but a great place to start if you are thinking about using Sonlight's curriculum or just looking for a fun book list for your kindergartner. Whew! I'm off to read something for myself!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Old Wrapping Paper and the Body of Christ

A few years ago on my son's birthday, he received a present from his grandparents wrapped in cowboy wrapping paper, I mean, vintage cowboy wrapping paper. My mother-in-law had saved this paper from when my husband was a little boy (5, maybe?) and his grandparents used it to wrap his birthday present. How cool is that?!

If you know me well (or not so well, possibly you've heard all the rumors) you would know that holding on to a piece of wrapping paper, however cute and sentimental it might be, for 27 or so odd years would be the last thing I could or would do. I just don't hang on to things for that long, truth be told, even a quarter of that long. I don't like clutter and so many of those sentimental pieces of paper get thrown away. (see here for an example)

By God's grace, I have a wonderful mother-in-law who was quite at ease with my teasing over the wrapping paper and we joked that if the world were made up of people like me, there would be no Smithsonian because I would have pitched every historical piece of paper I came across. What's this? The Constitution? I'm sure we have this saved on a computer somewhere - to the trash! And we joked that if the world were made up of people like my dear mom-in-law, we would be living on a spaceship while Wall.e was busy tidying up our planet for our return. There is a need for both of our personality types, to balance out each group.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this, especially when the Holy Spirit is kind enough to bring my sinful pride to my attention. This is exactly how the body of Christ is made up. For some reason He has chosen to redeem all kinds of people and then place them in the same local body to work together to bring Him glory. If the local body were made up of people who think like me, there would be some serious deficiencies, I'm sure. And the same goes for other personality types.

But the rub occurs when we actually try to get along with people who think and/or act differently than we do. When we would rather just smile and nod and move along and never have to speak to that person again. That is when the gospel matters. That is when I have to remind myself that John 13:35 is true: "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

This type of love doesn't come from steeling my will to put up with someone different than I. No, this love comes from Christ, from His sacrifice that implores us and enables us to love each other as He loves us. It isn't always easy, but ultimately I believe that it is possible, and I remind myself of this miraculous truth when I'm tempted with superiority.

Thank you, Father, for making each one of us unique and for loving us despite our pride and arrogance. Help me to love others as you have loved me and to further your gospel by this supernatural ability.