Monday, April 30, 2012

Mummy Math an Adventure in Geometry

I was fortunate to grow up with brothers who could tell stories and make math and science formulas seem to have some meaning outside of the dull textbooks we were asked to memorize. Thankfully, math literature has emerged that provides children with more entertaining ways to learn the material and find some cross-curricular connections in the process.

Mummy Math: An Adventure in Geometryengages children in a treasure hunt for a Mummy's tomb while teaching them important math vocabulary and concepts related to geometric solids.

Two children end up trapped in a mummy's tomb and must remember what they've learned about cones, spheres, cubes, cylinders, pyramids, tetrahedrons, rectangles, and triangular prisms to find the mummy's burial chamber and make it out of the tomb.

As readers follow the children's adventure, they are taught the differences between the solids. In one instance, the children’s knowledge of how many faces each object has saves them from disaster. This is obviously only an introduction, but it is a fun and engaging introduction. A far more interesting one than the dry one I got from a textbook. This is more like the stories my brothers would make up to try to help me learn the material that the textbooks left me confused and frustrated learning.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Home School Day at Old Sturbridge Village

Old Sturbridge Village is reminding Home Schooling parents that May 2 is Home School Day. The information for the event can be found here.

Pictures may not be used without written permission.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Egyptian Cinderella

I encountered the The Egyptian Cinderellafirst when doing a unit on multicultural Cinderella tales and then again when teaching a unit on Egypt to fourth graders.

The Egyptian Cinderella is different from most of the other traditional Cinderella tales in that it mixes some historical facts with the traditional Cinderella story. According to records, this story is supposed to be one of the older versions of the tale and it includes some historical facts about the main character Rhodopis and the Pharaoh Amasis she does marry. There is historical evidence to document that she was a Greek slave and that she did marry the Pharaoh. The rest is not documented and fictional.

In this Cinderella tale Rhodopis is a Greek slave who is bullied by the free Egyptian servants in the house she works. They tease her because her hair and skin are different than theirs. As with other Cinderella tales, when humans reject her, Rhodopis finds friends among the animals and dances to entertain them. This catches the attention of her master who rewards her talent with a pair of rose red slippers made from gold. This of course only leads to more resentment and jealousy from the other servants.

When the Pharaoh comes to visit, the servants force Rhodopis to stay behind to finish the chores. While she is working, a great falcon approaches. Rhodopis salutes the falcon as the symbol of Horus, but is horrified when the falcon steals one of the shoes she has put aside to keep them safe while she is washing at the bank of the river.

The falcon travels to Memphis where the Pharaoh Amasis is holding court. The falcon drops the slipper on his lap and he sees it as a sign from the God Horus and sets out to find the owner of the slipper. Thus the classic slipper search is born. As with all Cinderella stories only Rhodopis can fit the slipper and she marries the Pharaoh.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cinderella Tales

Years ago I started a list of Cinderella tales to use with a Traditional Tales Unit. The list is long gone, but I still get inquires about the list, so I thought I would start a list on the blog and keep adding to it as I discovered more titles.

Multicultural titles:

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale (Picture Puffin)

Angkat: The Cambodian CinderellaReview here

Cendrillon: A Caribbean CinderellaReview here

Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China

The Egyptian Cinderella Review here

The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from GreeceReview here

Jouanah: A Hmong CinderellaReview here

Anklet for a Princess: A Cinderella Story from IndiaReview here

The Persian CinderellaReview here

The Golden Sandal: A Middle Eastern Cinderella StoryReview here

Fair, Brown & Trembling: An Irish Cinderella StoryReview here

The Way Meat Loves Salt: A Cinderella Tale from the Jewish TraditionReview here

The Korean Cinderella (Trophy Picture Books (Paperback)) Review here


Review here

Domítíla: A Cinderella Tale from the Mexican TraditionReview here

Abadeha: The Philippine CinderellaReview here

Spice Islands, Indonesia:
The Gift of the Crocodile: A Cinderella StoryReview here

United States:
Moss GownReview here

Ashpet: An Appalachian TaleReview here

Smoky Mountain Rose: An Appalachian Cinderella (Picture Puffins)Review here

Cendrillon: A Cajun CinderellaReview here

Native American:

The Rough-Face GirlReview here

Sootface Review here

The Turkey Girl: A Zuni Cinderella StoryReview here

Cinderlad Stories:
Prince CindersReview here

The Irish Cinderlad (Trophy Picture Books (Paperback))Review here

Alternate Versions:
Seriously, Cinderella Is SO Annoying!: The Story of Cinderella as Told by the Wicked Stepmother (The Other Side of the Story)Review here

Cinderella-Pov (Steck-Vaughn Point of View Stories)Review here

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving

The Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving (Graphic History)is another entry in the Graphic History Series. For those looking for Pilgrim resources this is a great companion to The Voyage of the Mayflower (Graphic History)which I reviewed previously.

Unlike previous books, this one focuses less on the history of colony. Its goal is to present information on community life. The author centers the book on how the colony survived to reach its first harvest feast. While the Mayflower book focused on using correct vocabulary, like Separatists, this author is more comfortable with the more familiar term Pilgrim. The author explains that they were Separatists, explains how the term Pilgrim emerged and settles on the term Pilgrim for the remainder of the book.

This book does provide more Native American history of the area than previous books on the topic, mentioning specific tribes by name. She also gives explanations as to why they were reluctant to have relations with the colonists.

While this book provides some solid background information about the colony, the residents, and the challenges they faced, my one disappointment is the author seemed to think her audience needed the information simplified and I have not seen evidence of that in previous editions of this series. I think other authors have done a marvelous job in this series with presenting challenging concepts without resorting to simplistic descriptions and explanations.

Despite my annoyance at some of her descriptions, I think this is a good resource to have available when studying the colony. The information on the Native American tribes is harder to find than it should be and this is one resource that gives students a starting point. Contrasting this author's style with others the children read can help them become more discerning readers of non-fiction resources.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fair Brown & Trembling An Irish Cinderella Story

As part of our traditional tales unit, I always liked adding the multicultural tales I could find that had the same basic story told in different cultures. Cinderella is one of the easier tales to find. Publishers have printed many multicultural versions and it is a great way for students to see how traditional tales do emerge in different cultures at different times.

Fair, Brown & Trembling: An Irish Cinderella Storyis a tale that will be familiar to children who have read even the Disney version of the Cinderella tale. The Irish tale presents twists that change the story. However, this twist is not as different as those found in other multicultural Cinderella tales.

In this version Fair, Brown, and Trembling are three daughters of a widower who live in a castle in the hills of Ireland. No mention is made of a stepmother or any stepsisters. Trembling is the Cinderella character in the story and her sisters are jealous of her beauty. No mention is made as to why the father allows the bullying, but Trembling is the traditional servant character of the Cinderella tales. In this version, there is no ball. The sisters wear their best attire to attend mass, hoping to attract a suitor. Since they fear Trembling will distract their suitors, she is not allowed to go to Church with them.

A henwife has sympathy for Trembling and provides her with three opportunities to attend mass, but she is told she may not go into the Church. This prohibition is never clearly explained in the story. Trembling appears three times, attracting attention and eventually Princes vow to fight for her hand. This version does include a shoe hunt. However, there is also a battle among princes to determine who will be allowed to marry her.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Paul Revere's Ride

Paul Revere's Ride (Graphic History)Paul Revere's Ride is another entry in the graphic history series appropriate for Patriot's Day.

Xaviar Niz does a fairly accurate job in presenting Revere's Ride. He only credits Revere with saying the British were out once, which Revere would never have said. He does give accurate credit to the multiple riders and the urgency to provide warnings to protect both the munitions the British Regulars were after and the people they were seeking to arrest.

The book loses focus after the colonists are warned. It provides a very confused accounting of the battles fought at Lexington and Concord. This was not as strong an addition to the series as some of the previous titles I have reviewed. However, considering how many inaccurate accounts of Revere's ride I have read, I think this one is worth reading because it does provide details not included in many of the other books available for children on this topic.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Greedy Triangle

The Greedy Triangle (Scholastic Bookshelf)is a creative way to teach children the language of geometrical shapes and about the importance of being satisfied with yourself.

The Greedy Triangle is happy being a triangle fitting itself under a person's arm when they put a hand on a hip, along with many other wonderful tasks. However, one day when it is bored, it asks a magical shapeshifter for another angle and another side and our trip through shape geometry begins. As with most picture books, children can predict that the triangle will never be happy with its new shape and always returns to the shapeshifter for one more side and one more angle.

The story introduces children to looking at shapes as formation of sides and angles that increase and can be seen as building up from other shapes. At the end, the triangle has lost his friends and cannot remember why he was so dissatisfied at being a triangle and requests that the shapeshifter make him a triangle again.

I am always looking for fun math stories that introduce concepts and vocabulary to children. This book would be most appropriate for young children. Unlike some of the other books I reviewed, I do not see this one appealing to an older audience of children.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Picture Book of Paul Revere

A Picture Book of Paul Revere (Picture Book Biographies)is part of series of biographies for younger readers. The picture book style is a great way to introduce the format of biographies to younger readers, while engaging them at an age appropriate level.

In his story of Paul Revere's life, Adler manages to include a detailed account of Revere's life. He introduces children to life in colonial America by discussing Revere's childhood, education, and his responsibilities that came to him when his father died when he was only nineteen. The author explains that while he was best known as a silversmith he was accomplished in several trades.

His personal life is discussed in an age appropriate manner. The author discusses the death of his first wife and the economic realities of supporting a large family. Revere's military service is addressed first as a young man during the French and Indian Wars and then his role in the American Revolution. While many books on Revere focus solely on his role at Lexington and Concord, this book gives young readers a better idea of the broad role Revere played in the Committees of Correspondence, providing the troops with supplies, and creating a monetary supply for the Colony of Massachusetts during the war.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians

Goldie Socks and the Three Libeariansis a cute retelling of a classic fairytale. In this version, the bears are a family of librarians who have a house made of books. While the bears are away Goldie Socks wanders in and with a library twist to the story, it follows the traditional tale.

Goldie Socks moves through the bears’ house trying out books, attempting to find ones that will be just right for her. This gives the author a chance to remind readers about the five finger rule. As Goldie leaves books on the floor it gives, parents, teachers, and librarians a chance to remind students how to treat books that they do not wish to check out of the library.

I thought the author came up with an original twist on an old tale. It provides some additional talking points not provided in the original tale that some may find appropriate for young children headed off to visit the library.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Mystery of the Roanoke Colony

The Mystery of the Roanoke Colony is another history title in the Graphic Library series.

When I saw our local library had access to this title, I was anxious to review it. Since there is a mystery about what happened to the colonists who settled Roanoke, some textbooks provide extremely limited information on an important historical event and other books are filled with speculation and gossip. I am pleased to say this book focused on the facts and only at the end provided some logical explanations as to the possible outcomes of the colonists who stayed behind.

Having looked for resources that focused on the early settlements when I taught colonial history, I would have added this book. As with all books in this series, it picks it areas of focus. It skims over the purposes for the establishment for the colony, which did not bother me as that is an area I can find material that is age appropriate. This book focuses on the time line of the establishment of the colony, the relationship with the local native tribes that led to issues, and the wars and other factors that prevented the colony from being resupplied.

The book does gloss over some of the challenges between the Native populations and the colonists, but it does address that there were issues that led to conflicts. Considering the format, I was pleased to see that they raised the issue.

One very strong point I appreciated about this book is it emphasized the time involved. Since Roanoke is often given a paragraph to a page in textbooks, the timeline is often compressed such that children often do not understand the time involved. It often is presented as if the colonists land, there is some magic involved, and they disappear never to be seen again. This book does a good job in presenting the elapsed time between arrival and the realization by those who left the colony to resupply it that it was gone. Even if the people who left to resupply the colony returned as quickly as they could, there would have been a substantial amount of time for disasters to have occurred. However, due to weather, damaged ships, and war, Governor White was gone for three years before he could convince Sir Walter Raleigh to release ships for him to return to Roanoke to provide relief to his family and the other settlers. Sadly, when he returned he was unable to find his family and the mystery is still unsolved today.