Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Our Favorite Books for Thanksgiving!

by Rebecca Berg Manor

Where I live in south Florida the change of season is marked by subtle changes and there is no anticipation of "winter" but the shorter days signal the coming of snowbirds, more traffic, slightly cooler temps, and the holidays! I have just noticed that it's getting darker earlier and it makes me think, "Christmas!!" But before the holiday arrives with it's sweet anticipation, we have Thanksgiving to look forward to. Time to visit the library and check out some of these wonderful titles or purchase them to add to the family library. Here are some of my favorites.
Giving Thanks edited by Katherine Paterson
This is an essential title to add to your family library. Not only are the cut-out illustrations brilliant, the collected poems, prayers, and songs are applicable all year long. Perfect for opening your Thanksgiving meal, this beautiful book would be great to pull out each day in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving to nurture a grateful spirit, encourage gratitude in your children, and prepare hearts for the holiday season ahead. It's perfect for Poetry Tea Time, morning breakfast readings, post-dinner reflections, and just staring at the intricate artwork. 

Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Nostalgic, celebratory, and festive, this is a great book for creating excitement around the traditions of Thanksgiving. 

Feast For 10 by Kathryn Fallwell
While not technically a Thanksgiving book, this lovely story captures the excitement and labor that goes into creating a feast for family and friends. It's lovely illustrations communicate family affection, excitement and joy.

The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh
The Thanksgiving Story "is the only really distinguished book we have on that holiday. Miss Dalgliesh has told the Pilgrim story simply from the point of view of the Hopkins family whose little Oceanus was born on the Mayflower; and Miss Sewell has made wonderful full-color pictures. A beautiful book." -The Horn Book

The Pilgrims of Plimoth by Marcia Sewall
When the pilgrims set out for America, they brought with them a dream for the future. Sickness, hardship, and heartache stood in the way of that dream. But the pilgrims worked hard, keeping their dream close to their hearts, until they were finally able to make it come true. Marcia Sewell's text draws on journal entries from the Pilgrims and recreates their lives in striking detail. Beautiful illustrations accompany the text.

The Landing of the Pilgrims by James Daugherty
In England in the early 1600s, everyone was forced to join the Church of England. Young William Bradford and his friends believed they had a right to belong to whichever church they wanted. In the name of religious freedom, they fled to Holland, then sailed to America to start a new life. But the winter was harsh, and before a year passed, half the settlers had died. Yet through hard work and strong faith, a tough group of Pilgrims did survive. Their belief in freedom of religion became an American ideal that still lives on today. Based mainly on William Bradford's personal diary, this is a must-read for all who are interested in knowing more about the Pilgrims.

Pilgrim Stories by Margaret Pumphrey
This 1910 publication has been edited and expanded to include a horizontal history of the world of the Pilgrims of the early 17th century. This replaces the formerly titled Stories of the Pilgrims used in our Early American History Primary Study Guide. Now children will learn not only the faithful saga of the Separatist's struggle for religious freedom, but also that young Rembrandt was just learning to walk when the Pilgrims arrived in Leiden, that Galileo was fighting his own battle for religious and scientific freedom, and that William Brewster served as clerk to Queen Elizabeth's secretary until the ill-fated execution of Elizabeth's half sister, Mary. Historical figures from around the world will see the Pilgrim's heroic struggle in a more meaningful context. With whimsical illustrations by Christen Blechschmid, children and parents alike will see the world as the Pilgrims saw and lived it.

Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla
An ideal introduction to this important segment of the Pilgrim story, This account is among the best we've seen it tells the amazing story of Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe, who went to London with some of the first English explorers, was sold into slavery in Spain, and finally returned to America where he befriended the Pilgrims when they landed.

Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness
A beautifully illustrated book which relates the personal story of the Allerton family from the perspective of young Bartholomew, Mary and Remember. These elaborate watercolors with detailed maps, time lines and tender depictions of Pilgrim life will be a treasured addition to your family library.

William Bradford, Pilgrim Boy by Bradford Smith
This book will tell you all about the brave man who led the Pilgrims in their quest for the freedom to worship God in the matter they saw fit to. Orphaned at a young age, William Bradford was formed by forces which were providentially preparing him for the great call upon his life. Follow his life from his boyhood in Scrooby, England through the years when he led the Pilgrims as the first governor of Plimoth Plantation.

As you get closer to the big day, it may be fun to do some research on the lives of the Pilgrims and Native children who lived in and around the Pilgrim village. To do so, check out Pilmoth Plantation's website. There is a whole section of activities for kids including gamesrecipes, a chance to investigate the first Thanksgiving, and much more.

While the setting aside of a day for thanksgiving had been a tradition in many states, particularly in New England, it was Lincoln who declared that it be made into a national holiday. Here is is proclamation:

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln

You'll notice that this was established in 1863, the same year that President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The country was bitterly divided by a civil war and of all the times to give thanks, this probably wouldn't be the most apparent. Yet, it is telling that in a time of national suffering and trial, there was a recognition that gratitude was still in order. What a fitting reminder for our nation now coming on the tails of a divisive electoral season. 

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Raising Creative Kids

by Rebecca Berg Manor

Homeschooling today looks so different from when I was growing up in the 1980s. In the early days of the movement when I was young, there was a lot of fear of failure and fear of state interventions. It was new territory and so most home educators duplicated a classroom environment and schedule at home. There was an emphasis on academic performance and producing good test results because this movement needed to prove itself. Now I see this generation of home schooling parents enjoying the freedom allowed by being part of a movement that has reached maturity, proven itself, and been found to be a legitimate option for many people. This generation of homeschooling parents, many of them second generation home schoolers, have embraced a more free and open education for their children. Movements like "Wild and Free" and an emphasis on character over curriculum, embrace the individuality of each child and allow education to be driven by curiosity, interest, and exploration of nature. So, when the above video popped up in my Facebook feed, I thought I'd share it here because it reinforces the importance of many of the things you all are already doing!

Between the growing popularity of poetry tea time, nature exploration clubs, creativity based education, and an emphasis on character, you're encouraging the free-thinking that is fertile ground for non-conformist thinking and problem solving. Bravo!

I loved the part about addressing life questions through book characters. When your child's education is chocked full of great literature, you are giving them rich fodder for creative thinking. So, toss out those boring textbooks, and reach for stories. We're here to help you do just that! And continue on in the good work you're doing! We're approaching the mid-semester mark and the new shine is wearing off, but be encouraged by this, you are investing in lives in ways that truly matter.

We Would love to hear what you think! Chime in below in the comment section and share your thoughts. Don't forget to check out our Facebook and Pinterest pages. To learn more about Beautiful Feet Books, click here
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Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Again...and again...and again. The value of repetition.

by Rebecca Berg Manor

I'm in the middle of the endless rereading of favorite books with my two-year-old. Last night my husband read Lost and Found three times, after which our son brought the book to me for a fourth reading. Every parent knows this ritual of childhood. It's equal parts endearing and mind-numbingly boring. It's a rare book that can weather the storm of toddler-demanded repetitive readings without becoming somewhat annoying to the person tasked with the reading. Each Peach, Pear, Plum  is one that I still enjoy reading despite months of repetition.

As we have all been through this with our children, it comes as no surprise that one of the questions parents often ask us, is why do you repeat some of the books in your early American history programs? And should I follow the Early American History for Primary Grades with the Early American History for Intermediate Grades. Our answers are mostly, yes and yes!

Between the Primary-level and Intermediate-level Early American History studies three books are the same, d'Aulaire biographies on Columbus, Pocahontas, and Benjamin Franklin. These books are the best biographies we are aware of on these figures and as students progress from the primary level to the intermediate, they will be able to read these books on their own, adding a new experience to familiar material. We find that this is encouraging to students as well as empowering.

In terms of repeating the time period studied in both programs, it's important to remember that not only are students learning history at this level, they're learning how to study history. They're also learning what history is: the stories of people like them! The ability to immerse oneself in a time period grows with repetition. Just as children request to hear the same stories over and over, taking the time to repeat the study of our nation's history gives them the ability build a strong foundation for understanding not just that time period, but how history works, how our world is affected by ideas and action, and how that relates to our lives. Kim John Payne, in his book Simplicity Parenting,  observes that "Repetition is a vital part of relationship building for children. By repeating experiences and scenarios in play, as well as in storytelling and reading, kids are able to incorporate what they learn. Repetition deepens the experience and relationship for a child; it helps them claim it as their own...The consistency and security of such repetition is very soothing for young children."

We've found this to be true. As a student becomes comfortable in a time period, she begins to explore more, to ask more questions, to follow rabbit trails. This is especially important in the younger years. So don't be nervous about repeating a time period (or books!) in those first years. It's comfortable for the child and will help them gain a strong foundation from which to branch out and study other eras, cultures, geographies, and more.

We would love to hear what you think! Chime in below in the comment section and share your thoughts. Don't forget to check out our Facebook and Pinterest pages. To learn more about Beautiful Feet Books, click here
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