Monday, August 28, 2017

Announcing our newest study: Around the World with Picture Books

Today Rea joins us on the blog to share about her newest study!

Dear Readers,
Thank you to all the friends and literature lovers who have waited patiently for this new study to be available!  It has been quite a labor of love, and it is my fond hope that you and your students will have as many happy, enriching, and rewarding times with it, as I have!
So . . . Here goes!  Around the World with Picture Books Part I is designed to be a notebook approach to world cultures and geography for the primary student. (Part II will cover South America and Europe and is slated for Winter/Spring 2018). Using beloved children’s books, this guide includes nature study, folk tales, fables, art, poetry, history, and gentle Socratic questions to prompt discussion and discovery.  Geographic elements include country maps and flags for students to cut out, paint, or color. The beautifully illustrated Maps by Aleksandra Mizielińska and Daniel Mizieliński acts as the spine of the study and there will be few students that don’t love geography after encountering this work. Beautiful drawings of indigenous animals are included for each country, and will familiarize students with some remarkable creatures, cultivating respect and wonder for the natural world. As the student compiles these elements in a journal, he creates a memorable keepsake recording all he is learning.
When we visit Australia, make this gorgeous Pavlova—a dreamy dessert for which we can thank the Aussies and Anna Pavlova, a famous ballerina!
Part One covers Asia, Antarctica, Australia, and Africa.  In Asia, we explore China, Japan, Thailand, and India.  In Africa, we visit Morocco, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ghana. Each country visited includes additional picture book suggestions as well as biography and history recommendations.  Chapters conclude with a fun foray into the cuisine of the country with recipes, photos, and links to create a memorable evening experiencing unique culinary creations from around the world—a perfect time for students to relate to family and friends all that they’ve learned.
The Literature
All of the books chosen for this study are either classic works, award-winning books, or newer selections that have achieved some critical acclaim. As a primary-level study, the book notes presented here are simple and straightforward with comprehension questions designed to enhance and draw out some of the subtleties or nuances of the books.  Most selections included in this guide can stand quite well on their own.  The best literature tends to inspire the student’s interest and curiosity to bubble up naturally and often notes are not necessary.
Nature Studies
Children take to the study of nature with keen interest and delight.  The animals featured in this guide were chosen for their appeal to primary students. Helpful websites and links are included for each animal.Japan NB
Researching a few remarkable facts about each of the creatures will help cultivate a child’s sense of wonder at the marvels of the natural world; allow time to ponder the spectacles of perfect symmetry, function, and design.  Even the tiniest creature reveals something marvelous about the mind of the Creator and should inspire awe and reverence.
Tsubame W30SThe notebooks that are included in the Around the World with Picturebooks Pack have been specially chosen for the quality they will bring to your student’s journaling experience.  Imported from Japan, the Tsubame Fools Note Book is made from acid-free paper that is beautifully smooth to the touch, does not bleed through, and is lined for beginning writers but can accommodate a student working on cursive as well. With a sewn binding, this notebook lays perfectly flat wherever it is opened, significantly facilitating all the writing and pasting work in the course. 
Finally, Around the World with Picture Books Part I goes to the press in just a few days, as we make all the final touches!  The good news is that we have a download available now of the first two chapters—China and Japan.  This includes all the lessons, geography, history and biography connections, art connections and nature studies. *Customers who purchase the Study Guide or Pack now will receive the download version of the Study Guide by the end of August as well as the print version around the beginning of October. You will also be emailed the first two chapters upon purchase. You can purchase Around the World in Picture Books now to receive the preview chapters and we also offer a book pack! Happy travels!china-maps.jpg

From Anno’s China a scene from the beautiful Guilan province in China. Just one of many scenes visited in Around the World with Picture Books!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Fighting Fear and Hatred with Story

by Rebecca Manor

Over the past few months I've adopted a bit of an ostrich approach to the news. I haven't been
checking Facebook or reading the news, finding it too sad, too depressing, too disempowering. I've been focusing my attention homeward and but over the weekend I could no longer ignore the news as friends in Charlottesville alerted me to the heartbreaking events of this past weekend. I don't come here today to make any political statements as many have more eloquently denounced the hate and evil on display. I echo their voices and wish to empower you as parents. Within our homes we have the power to fight the hate and anger we saw displayed so vividly this past weekend. We have the ability to shape a generation that can listen with empathy, can live with the light of eternity coloring their vision, and can hold tight to that future seen by John, "After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.

When we can fill our children with what is truly noble, we will be equipping them to stand against the evil that marched from the shadows this weekend. As parents, we have a wonderful opportunity to pour into our children stories filled with heroes who stood against evil, warriors who opposed oppression, friends who reached out to the friendless, and defenders of the marginalized. Story is one of the most powerful weapons against what we see on display in Charlottesville, Kenya, Syria, and in our own hearts.

Stories open up space in our hearts to listen to people who have lived lives different from our own. Stories tear down walls because we are no longer able to hide behind our prejudices when we are forced to confront the truth. Beautifully written fictional stories like The Hundred Dresses gently open up opportunities to discuss prejudice with our little ones. Miss Rumphius plants seeds of beauty in tender little hearts and inspires the desire to leave behind a legacy of graciousness. Amos Fortune paints an eloquent picture of the unwavering strength of true humility. Reading books that relate the first-hand experiences of enslaved people opens our eyes to this evil that tragically still exists nearly everywhere. And, of course, scripture reminds us that relinquishing our rights is right and exactly what our Savior did. Giving our children opportunities to hear from people whose life experiences are vastly different from our own reveals struggles we can only imagine. The tales of men and women who stood firm against evil can inspire bravery in our families as we decide to stand up against both great and small evils in our every day choices.

What we all saw over the weekend is part of the fallen human condition. Ultimately, as a Christian I believe the only permanent solution is the return of Jesus, but I also know that the sin of hatred grows most quickly in a mind without imagination. Imagination allows us to enter into experiences we cannot live ourselves. The beauty of a well-developed imagination is its ability to give us a taste for what others experience in their daily lives. Combining a curiosity and desire to know more about all people with the ability to imagine their reality is a powerful weapon against prejudice.

Reading stories with our children also allows us to confront evil as we encounter it in the books we read. Whether it's an epic historical struggle like World War II, or the evils of racist depictions of people, or tales of cruelty, providing a context in which to discuss these realities with our children in age-appropriate ways helps them prepare to confront them in real life. If a child is raised to adulthood without an understanding of the reality of evil and the power we have to defeat it, he will encounter a world full of unsurmountable threats and dangers. The irony of a protectionist approach to raising children is that it fails to prepare them to confront depravity, both inside their hearts and outside their front doors. This is not to say that childhood should be filled with tales of awfulness. I firmly believe in fiercely protecting childhood. It's more of an encouragement to read, read, read! As G. K. Chesterton so eloquently stated in Tremendous Trifles, 1909:
Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.Exactly what the fairy tale does is this: it accustoms him for a series of clear pictures to the idea that these limitless terrors had a limit, that these shapeless enemies have enemies in the knights of God, that there is something in the universe more mystical than darkness, and stronger than strong fear.
Read fairy tales to fire up those imaginations. Read authentic historical accounts that portray historical characters in all their good and bad characteristics. Read books that grow your child's world and mind. This is one of the many ways we can stand against sin and evil and show our children what it means to love boldly.

We would love to hear what you think! Chime in below in the comments 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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