Friday, January 02, 2009

Starting With Stories

Starting With Stories: Engaging Multiple Intelligences Through Children's Books, published by Gryphon House is the perfect way to kick off the learning year with my now two and a half year old and a good way to introduce some new ideas I have for Reading to Know. This book perfectly summarizes, helps and encourages me in the direction I want to go with my son in this coming year.

I was home schooled growing up, as was my husband, and we both grew up loving that method of schooling. We loved the freedom and flexibility that it brought with it and the opportunities we were able to take advantage of as a result of not being locked into an 8-3 schedule like many of our friends. Both of us each intended to home school our own children as well (*see below) and we each had our own ideas of how this would look. Gratefully, we both grew up enjoying the same method of learning with secret hopes and desires to make school more exciting and fun for our children. Amazingly we had the same vision. Enter: Starting With Stories

It's interesting having a child that you raise intending to educate yourself. It's frightening, really. There's a subconscious attention to detail always taking place as you try to figure out what your child's learning style is and how to use it to their advantage to promote a love of learning. One thing I've noticed about our son is that he is constantly making connections between the things that he sees. For example, if he reads about something in a book, he will point it out in the car, the store, at the park, etc. A phrase that is common around our house is, "Like at - " (e.g., there is cheese at the store "like at home", or there is a picture in a book of a train set "like at Caleb's house", etc., etc.) He is always making connections in his world, matching things up and putting things together. When Starting With Stories was presented to me, I thought it was just about perfect!

Starting With Stories is, as it says in the Introduction, "a comprehensive, literature-based curriculum for children ages three to five." This book contains more than 1200 activities based on over 100 children's books for you to do with your child. Furthermore, each picture book is accompanied with ideas to attract and engage all learning styles from the logical-mathematical child to the spacial and the musically inclined children. Best yet, the titles of the children's books addressed in this book are fairly easy to find and I had a great many of them in our home collection already.

So how does this book work, exactly? Take for example Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?. First the book lays out some thoughts on Learning Literacy, addresses concepts such as oral language, segmentation and phonological awareness. Next they give you some suggestions for special activities that you can engage in with your child. Then they give you some learning activities, specifically related to the story. There are suggestions for art projects, building blocks, gross motor skills, music, science and writing. They also give you suggestions for books to read along with this one. (If you are going to buy Brown Bear, Brown Bear, I strongly recommend you purchase Brown Bear & Friends Board Book Gift Set which includes two additional titles and is way cheaper than buying Brown Bear alone.)

In short, Starting With Stories is the direction that we're headed this year with books, games and play. I hope to share a few of our activities and games that we've used in conjunction with a variety of picture books over the course of the next year. It's a learning journey for me as well, which is why I'm grateful for some help and guidance offered by Starting With Stories. At the same time, as "scary" as this is, it is also great fun as I explore the world through the eyes of my own child. This book is helping enable me to do that and we'll just see where this road takes us. I AM pleased and excited about this book and would encourage parents with toddlers to check it out.

** We do not believe that every family is equipped and/or obligated to home school. Some people are able to do it and others should go in a different direction. Reading to Know is not headed towards becoming a home school blog. It's going to remain a reading blog. We just happen to read to know. Hence the title. Starting With Stories is not a "home school resource book" so much as it is a tool to engage with your child more deeply over books that matter to you. I'm using it to have fun and learn with my two-going-on-three-year-old and anyone can do that! This book just makes it easier to do so. The bottom line is to engage with the kids and help them learn how to explore their world. Starting With Stories helps me to do that. So go forth! Have fun! Sometimes I think that's the most important bottom line.


Anonymous said...

How exciting that both you and your husband were homeschooled and want to continue on that course with your own children!

I appreciate your comment, though, on the book not being a "homeschooling book"--I think it's valuable to emphasize that every parent is a teacher, whether or not they're delegating some of the teaching work to another.

Stephanie Kay said...

Sounds like a really interesting book. I'll have to check around for it.

Kathleen said...

Thank you for letting me know about this wonderful resource. It sounds like just the thing I need to homeschool my preschooler. I've found that tying activities to books really engages them.

As to the cost of Brown Bear, you aren't kidding! It's $30 here!

Anonymous said...

This sounds great! We are planning to homeschool kindergarten next year (with preschoolish stuff going on now), so I might look into this.

Unknown said...

There is an excellent children’s book called Other People’s Shoes. It does a great job of teaching kids the importance of kindness inside of a very captivating story. You should check it out! Here is a link:

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