Here are a couple more of our book reviews from The Good and the Beautiful Library!
Sue In All Seasons by Jennifer D. Lerud
S- One of the neat things about the book was in the first chapter--- the cool milk carton boat that they sailed on the pond. Also, the trip in the fall, how she got her birthday flowers, and how she played with her friend Bobby in the winter and shared with him (and they cheered each other up).
K- A gentle journey across the seasons through the eyes of inquisitive and kind-hearted seven-year-old Sue was a winner for our family. Common childhood challenges --- particularly disappointments--- are confronted in a positive and creative way. The loving bond of mother and child is woven beautifully throughout each chapter. The bit about God's will and how He answers prayer in his own way provides a simple, relatable explanation for children who want to understand why He doesn't always respond to our prayer requests in the way we want.
Anne Marie's Reading Adventures by Shannen Yauger
S- It was cool that Anne Marie had a kitten and liked to read. She even had a bookshelf that she called her rainbow bookshelf. I liked learning about Giant Puffball mushrooms and got interested in the reading dogs because of the book. If there's a reading dog program at my library, I better sign up for that!
K- Anne Marie is a little girl with a big heart for reading. As she reads, her world grows: she learns new things, overcomes fears, makes new neighbors feel right at home, and researches her dream pet. I really appreciated the fact that the neighbors who Anne Marie was so welcoming to happen to be an elderly couple. It was also really wonderful how the pleasure taken from reading also helped form Anne Marie in a constructive way: exactly what a good book should do for all of us!
...and it's going swimmingly! (Literally, it started with swimming.) Can't wait to find some time to put together our 2022-2023 curriculum video. The Planning video is up on the homeschooling page; please check it out!
Today we went to the sister site of a beloved East Marion haunt, Lavender by the Bay. In the past few years, the family which owned Lavender by the Bay has expanded their farm to a second location in Calverton (47 Manor Road, Calverton, 631-477-1019). Perfect for us, because the trip was a lot closer, and there was still acre upon acre of dreamy, scented lavender, replete with contentedly buzzing bees. It is truly a sight to behold: a sea of purple.
A peaceful, quiet, simple moment... my kind of luxury...
Picked up some neat baking supplies, made from their own plants: Lavender Sugar and Lavender Honey.
I am so relieved we can keep our first grade mascot in second grade.
First grade, it was heaps of fun... whether it's learning that takes place in a building, a backyard, a beach (or in some exceptionally lucky moments, a chicken tractor).
And now, in the midst of a whopping six (!!!) days off from school before we start second grade, I am going to attempt to get some blogging and vlogging done. Doing school year-round is a post/explanation in and of itself for another time... :-) The short version is that I've always admired the rhythm of the academic calendars in countries which punctuate their terms with little 1-4 week breaks and have professionally and personally found the 2+ month summer break we have here in the 'States a little unnatural. (Not that one ever really takes a break from learning!) But living in a modern-day suburb that is not dictated and dominated by agrarian needs of pre-commercialized farming (a topic we're covering with great interest in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy), I think we get a lot more out little breaks which give us just enough time to celebrate the seasonal rhythms that come with the blessing of living in a part of the world that has four seasons. (Just enough break, without going stir crazy).
In the weeks ahead, I can't wait to share with you a new liturgical printable, a planner video, our curricula picks for second grade, and a post series that threads the needle with the two main aspects of this blog: Long Island and Catholic homeschooling. There are some really special Proverbs 31 and Titus 2 women who I've had the blessing of knowing, and I'm looking forward to highlighting their work here on coastalvillagegirl.com.
What will AY 2022-2023 have in store? The most important guiding principle is that whatever it may be, it must remain rooted in Him, and seeking to do His will. I'm excited by the adventure ahead, and hope you find some peace and refreshment this summer too, wherever your journey takes you...
You can't go wrong with strawberry picking. Fun at Glover Farms in Yaphank.
Happy Month of May, Long Island. For me, it always feels like spring is slow to arrive, but once she is here, it is hard to remember her not being with us.
With all of our wonderful end-of-the year happenings completed, I have been in full on IHIP mode. We will be doing some things similarly to last year, but the past few months have been an invaluable time to reflect, pivot, and explore new possibilities for the year ahead...
Speaking of exploration, we discovered a few new things hiding in plain sight. After driving past it on Jericho Turnpike dozens of times, Essie and I made the trip to A Latte Fun (570 East Jericho Turnpike, South Huntingon, 631-944-3170) last week. While she was on the older age range of children for whom the place is geared, it was a good 45 minutes of safe, imaginative open indoor play for little miss, and a moment of peaceful caffeine consumption for mommy. Staff are lovely and helpful. The padded jungle gym with obstacle course, trampoline, and bridge were particular hits, but there are also ample Melissa and Doug-style play sets designed for open-ended imaginative play: a house with a kitchen, train set, veterinary clinic, and even, a diner. You can buy packs of classes to get a discount, and they offer play reservations if you and friends want to go in on a private 2-hour group play session. Socks are required in the play zone; even though they do offer impromptu drop-in play, I recommend making reservations through their online site in order to guarantee a time slot for your child. You can learn more by visiting their website, https://www.alattefunlongisland.com/
Another place embarrassingly overlooked after repeat trips to Planting Fields Arboretum over the years was the “Main Greenhouse”. This was rectified by a recent visit with some beloved homeschool friends. The scale and scope of orchids, cacti and exotic flowering and fruit-bearing plants was staggering. I felt like we were quite literally in the middle of a fairytale, right here on Long Island. The place does a fine job of explaining itself, even in amateur photos…
What little transcendent bits of beauty are you finding in your spring, Long Island? I hope they are many…
Spring has certainly sprung as we entered Holy Week on the Island. After Mass, we decided to make a trip out to the farm, to take in the East End in all her springtime loveliness and benefit from the tutelage of our beloved friends, the farmers. The young farmers class had us busy and learning!
As we picked the over-wintered kale (and even spinach!), we were amazed by its sweetness. I picked up a bag of kale in the market and am looking forward to sautéing it in the days ahead.
Making "cookies" with some amazing homemade play-dough...
...and Magnolia sculptures, too!
Practicing our weeding skills by digging in raised garden beds...
...which it is time for me to get back to. See Exhibit "A": Mystery Foe in Our Yard. This weed, which has little white blooms that scatter seeds everywhere, has been providing me with the cheapest gym in town. (Since it completely takes over in a few weeks' time, the price of not "working out" at this "gym" is perilously high! Hmm...) So, in lieu of some of those more sanctifying aspects of our gardening adventures, I will close with a few satisfying blooms we have been appreciating lately at the Pond House:
Happy Spring, Long Island!
A favorite for both proximity and diversity of sights, Bayard Cutting Arboretum (440 Montauk Hwy, Great River, 631-581-1002) is also part of the NYS parks system. This charming-in-all-seasons property ambles along the Connetquot River. There is a little cafe in the mansion that serves tea and lunch fare. The Dahlia Garden behind the Cornell Extension Division buildings remains a treasure to visit each summer from approximately late July until mid-October.
The Pinetum is a favorite stroll path any time of year.
Manicured garden beds abound.
Cornell Extension Division Farm. I understand they have a CSA program, too!
I'll have to give the Dahlia garden blooms a post of their own in the future. But here are a couple to send you off with some cheer!
The mansion at Old Westbury Gardens (71 Old Westbury Road, Old Westbury, 516-333-0048) is permanently enshrined in the memory of Long Islanders and visitors alike as the quintessential image of the Gold Coast. The mansion and grounds are run a private foundation, so you can either become a member or pay a fee each time you visit. The grounds are more spread out and lawn-like, so be prepared to walk in order to view certain gardens. Unlike many similar places, picnicking is allowed at Old Westbury Gardens (with certain restrictions). They re-open April 1st.
These pictures were taken last summer when making a trip to see the special outdoor garden train installation, which graced the imaginations of many for a few short months. Who knows what their summertime delights will be for this year?
Has the late winter fatigue got you down, Long Island? Here's the first in a three-part featurette about places to look forward to when the weather gets warm. I'll mostly be letting the pictures speak for themselves. These were taken during a trip late last March with some of our very dear homeschooling friends. It was a pleasant, clear day, and the girls were simply in awe of the surprising bounty of blooms, many of which they were unfamiliar with. Even with all of the blossoms, the leaves of the deciduous trees were just starting to appear on the branches.
Planting Fields Arboretum (1395 Plainting Field Road, Oyster Bay, 516-922-9200) has no shortage of indigenous as well as exotic flowering trees, bushes and plants to make for a magnificent springtime visit. As part of the New York State Park system, you can avoid a vehicle use fee on the peak days/times of the year by purchasing an Empire Pass.
Now that I think of it, it's time for me to get hopping renewing my Empire Pass! How are you getting ready for the Spring?
Greetings from the Winter Wonderland that is Long Island! (Some of you may understandably have more colorful descriptors for what's happening outside your window...) While we are back at our beloved brick and mortar hybrid and virtual schools, it's still a strong homebody culture here at the Pond House... especially with all the winter weather. It's not just the cold, it's the dampness of the cold here that I can't seem to get used to, even after living out here for almost a decade... Here's hoping for an early spring! (Essie understandably disagrees, as her dear father took advantage of the twenty inches of snow to make her an epic sledding slope ;-).
Regardless of whether or not you live on an island in the Northeast getting pummeled by a blizzard, it seems everyone on Planet Homeschool is talking about the winter burnout. I totally get it. If it is any consolation to those wanting a more confident posture about God calling them to do this, please know professional educators with decades of experience working with diverse student needs in institutional settings grapple with the exact same things. I think a lot of it is exacerbated by the weather, no longer marinating in the glow of the holidays. After months of hard work by all involved, there is a simple need to recharge, switch gears, turn things on their head, and think outside the box. It's okay to need these things. Kids do, too, by the way! So, without compromising your values and expectations, this may be the most important time to be a little kinder, gentler, and more patient with yourself and others and in doing so, encourage a time to rest, recharge, and reflect.
One of my favorite ways to reinvigorate the current school year is to plan for the year ahead. If this sounds a little odd, bear with me: with a cup of tea in hand, and no stress of having all the answers right away, I like to engage in a little of what I call "leisurely pre-crastination". (Pre-crastination has a bad rap, and understandably so, but I add "leisurely" to it because those are the only terms under which I will engage in pre-crastination).
What does that look like? In January and February, I pour over curricula catalogs, reflect on what is going well and what needs to change, pray, drink tea, and even draft some ideas for next year, plugging things into my pre-existing templates I created to meet our state's documentation requirements. I'll be doing a video series on "leisurely pre-crastination" at some point soon, because I think it is a valuable tool. Even though I am happy continuing with the curricula providers I have been using, I do tweak things a bit each next year.
As I do my next-year prep slowly, bit by bit, without pressure, I find it helps me remember why I picked what I picked for this year, maybe switch a few things up, add a few little supplemental materials for variety, and adjust my trajectory to accommodate for any choices I've made for next year's school plan. Since I'm excited about the new curricula I'm ordering, it helps me remain focused on how this year's targets can set us up for the next. I also work out how to allocate my budget for homeschooling supplies, (because it is really easy to get carried away).
Also, I don't want to leave this bit out: I shop my bookcase and supplies cabinet. Just like the minimalists who "shop their closet" to be grateful for what they have and build new creative wardrobe ideas, I find that when I shop my bookcase and supplies cabinet, I forget about things I purchased that got pushed to the back that might help us in our goals.
All of these things invigorate the current year, because as I get psyched about what has been picked out for next year, it influences my buy-in for this year.
I hope this is helpful to you, and that it might give you some new ideas for how to stay cozy and make the most out of this mid-year lull (be it weather-induced or not). Until next time, stay safe, especially those of you braving the storm in the Northeast!
Oh, the things you can laminate... A little touch of the farm from warmer days sits cheerfully in a windowsill.
Here is our first in a series of reviews on books from The Good and the Beautiful Library! Some of the books in their library are reprints of classic literature (with an emphasis on the golden age of children’s chapter books from the 1920’s-1960’s), while others are contemporary works by writers who create wholesome and appealing characters and stories. We have been truly blessed by our literary adventures with TGATB! (Opinions of Essie are marked with “S”, while Mom is “K”).
Treehouse Town, Books I & II by Jenni Phillips
Treehouse Town Parts of Speech Game
S- I like the book because there are a few really good mysteries, especially the light in the woods. The characters were cute, and they loved to explore new treehouses. The characters were kind, got along well, and never fought with each other. I would like it if the books were even longer, that way I could read so much more about the characters. I like to re-read the books and pretend to make adventures with the friends. The artwork was pretty.
The Treehouse Town game was fun. I got better at nouns and verbs and adjectives.
K- Treehouse Town is filled with mysteries, friendship, and a celebration of creativity in the most Christian sense—using one’s God-given gifts to “pay it forward”. The illustrations are simply stunning. I have watched my daughter read and re-read these books many times. It was so nice to read a story which featured characters who were all homeschooled. The game was a perfect introduction to parts of speech and certainly made these concepts stick!
My only recommendations for improvement would be that I think TGATB should consider expanding the Treehouse Town universe with additional volumes and also making paper dolls available for imaginative play (complete with paper treehouses, of course ;-). We didn't want the adventures to end with Book II! Here's hoping for future volumes of Treehouse Town stories...
Luke & Lily of the Lighthouse, Books I & II by Maggie Felsch
Luke & Lily Compound Words Game
S- I enjoyed how they made adventures. Lily had to be patient with her pumpkins. She is good at sharing, and she got happy when she shared. Luke treats his sister kindly when something bad happens. He helped his sister when he went on an adventure. The artwork was cute.
The Lighthouse game was nice. I learned how to spell some words.
K- It was so nice to see stories with siblings having such a positive relationship with one another and to see children navigating challenges in an admirable way. The gentle little world of the lighthouse was captured well in the charming simplicity of the illustrations.
The Lighthouse memory game was fun; my daughter was comfortably reading the level 2 TGATB books by the time we got Luke & Lily, but it was still much enjoyed. While she could read the compound words, piecing them together with their matching card strengthened existing spelling and phonics skills.
How did we incorporate the sets of books and games into our day?
My daughter would read a chapter or two out loud to me at a time, and then we would play a few rounds of the corresponding game. At that pace, it took us a few weeks to get through both books, and so the skills presented in the games got plenty of reinforcement on each reading day. (We generally did this during a down time in the afternoon).
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