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Archive for March, 2010

A Burgess Bird Book Companion

I’ve put together a list of resources to complement this fantastic book. This companion document is not affiliated with the Burgess Bird Book for Children, it is simply a handy reference to list related links. I’ve linked to the top bird identification sites and to free coloring pages. I couldn’t resist looking up the Audubon plush birds with sound calls, we have a few in our collection.

The Burgess Bird Book For Children by Thornton W. Burgess – This book is in the public domain and I’ve provided links to read the entire story free online, which you can print out or read on-screen, as well as links to an audio recording. If you want a physical copy of the book, the link above will take you to a newly illustrated, full-color version. There is also a Kindle version for your iPad/Kindle, which has B&W illustrations.

Each chapter describes a story about Peter Rabbit and the birds that live around him. The chapter covers two birds on average. Children will learn their physical appearance, characteristics, eating and nesting habits, behavior, songs, and calls.


Chapter List

  1. Jenny Wren Arrives
  2. The Old Orchard Bully
  3. Jenny Has a Good Word for Some Sparrows
  4. Chippy, Sweetvoice, and Dotty
  5. Peter Learns Something He Hadn’t Guessed
  6. An Old Friend in a New Home
  7. The Watchman of the Old Orchard
  8. Old Clothes and Old Houses
  9. Longbill and Teeter
  10. Redwing and Yellow Wing
  11. Drummers and Carpenters
  12. Some Unlike Relatives
  13. More of the Blackbird Family
  14. Bob White and Carol the Meadow Lark
  15. A Swallow and One Who Isn’t
  16. A Robber in the Old Orchard
  17. More Robbers
  18. Some Homes in the Green Forest
  19. A Maker of Thunder and a Friend in Black
  20. A Fisherman Robbed
  21. A Fishing Party
  22. Some Feathered Diggers
  23. Some Big Mouths
  24. The Warblers Arrive
  25. Three Cousins Quite Unlike
  26. Peter Gets a Lame Neck
  27. A New Friend and an Old One
  28. Peter Sees Rosebreast and Finds Redcoat
  29. The Constant Singers
  30. Jenny Wren’s Cousins
  31. Voices of the Dusk
  32. Peter Saves a Friend and Learns Something
  33. A Royal Dresser and a Late Nester
  34. Mourner the Dove and Cuckoo
  35. A Butcher and a Hummer
  36. A Stranger and a Dandy
  37. Farewells and Welcomes
  38. Honker and Dippy Arrive
  39. Peter Discovers Two Old Friends
  40. Some Merry Seed-eaters
  41. More Friends Come with the Snow
  42. Peter Learns Something About Spooky
  43. Queer Feet and a Queerer Bill
  44. More Folks in Bed
  45. Peter Sees Two Terrible Feathered Hunters

1. Jenny Wren Arrives

“Introducing the House Wren”


2. The Old Orchard Bully

“The English or House Sparrow”

3. Jenny Has a Good Word for Some Sparrows

“The Song, White-throated and Fox Sparrows”


4. Chippy, Sweetvoice, and Dotty

“The Chipping, Vesper, and Tree Sparrows”


5. Peter Learns Something He Hadn’t Guessed

“The Bluebird and a Robin”

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6. An Old Friend in a New Home

“The Phoebe and the Least Flycatcher”

7. The Watchman of the Old Orchard

“The Kingbird and the Great Crested Flycatcher”

8. Old Clothes and Old Houses

“The Wood Pewee and Some Nesting Places”

9. Longbill and Teeter

“The Woodcock and the Spotted Sandpiper”
  • Handbook of Nature Study – Woodcock pg 136; Spotted Sandpiper pg 142

10. Redwing and Yellow Wing

“The Red-winged Blackbird and the Golden-winged Flicker”

11. Drummers and Carpenters

“The Downy, Hairy, and Red-Headed Woodpeckers”

12. Some Unlike Relatives

“The Cowbird and the Baltimore Oriole”

13. More of the Blackbird Family

“The Orchard Oriole and the Bobolink”

14. Bob White and Carol the Meadow Lark

“The So-called Quail and the Meadow Lark”

15. A Swallow and One Who Isn’t

“The Tree Swallow and the Chimney Swift”

16. A Robber in the Old Orchard

“The Purple Martin and the Barn Swallow”

17. More Robbers

“The Crow and the Blue Jay”

18. Some Homes in the Green Forest

“The Crow, the Oven Bird, and the Redtailed Hawk”

19. A Maker of Thunder and a Friend in Black

“The Ruffed Grouse and the Crow Blackbird”

20. A Fisherman Robbed

“The Osprey and the Bald-headed Eagle”

21. A Fishing Party

“The Great Blue Heron and the Kingfisher”

22. Some Feathered Diggers

“The Bank Swallow, the Kingfisher, and the Sparrow Hawk”

23. Some Big Mouths

“The Nighthawk, the Whip-poor-will and Chuck-will’s-widow”

24. The Warblers Arrive

“The Redstart and the Yellow Warbler”

25. Three Cousins Quite Unlike

“The Black and White Warbler, the Maryland Yellow-Throat and the Yellow-Breasted Chat”

26. Peter Gets a Lame Neck

“The Parula, Myrtle and Magnolia Warblers”

27. A New Friend and an Old One

“The Cardinal and the Catbird”

28. Peter Sees Rosebreast and Finds Redcoat

“The Rose-breasted Grosbeak and the Scarlet Tanager”

29. The Constant Singers

“The Red-Eyed, Warbling, and Yellow-throated Vireos”

30. Jenny Wren’s Cousins

“The Brown Thrasher and the Mockingbird”
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31. Voices of the Dusk

“The Wood, Hermit and Wilson’s Thrushes”
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32. Peter Saves a Friend and Learns Something

“The Towhee and the Indigo Bunting”
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33. A Royal Dresser and a Late Nester

“The Purple Linnet and the Goldfinch”
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34. Mourner the Dove and Cuckoo

“The Mourning Dove and the Yellow-billed Cuckoo”
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35. A Butcher and a Hummer

“The Shrike and the Ruby-throated Hummingbird”
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36. A Stranger and a Dandy

“The English Starling and the Cedar Waxwing”
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37. Farewells and Welcomes

“The Chickadee”
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38. Honker and Dippy Arrive

“The Canada Goose and the Loon”
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39. Peter Discovers Two Old Friends

“The White-breasted Nuthatch and the Brown Creeper”
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40. Some Merry Seed-eaters

“The Tree Sparrow and the Junco”
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41. More Friends Come with the Snow

“The Snow Bunting and the Horned Lark”
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42. Peter Learns Something About Spooky

“The Screech Owl”

43. Queer Feet and a Queerer Bill

“The Ruffed Grouse and the Crossbills””
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44. More Folks in Bed

“The Pine Grosbeak and the Redpoll”
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45. Peter Sees Two Terrible Feathered Hunters

“The Goshawk and the Great Horned Owl”
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We’ve just finished our 9th week this semester. Looking back on my handy online tracker (Homeschool Skedtrack), I see we only skipped two days. We’re due for a vacation! We will be trekking to Wisconsin the week of Easter, that might end up being a two week vacation.

Almost everything we planned for our Kindergarten semester is going quite well. I would hardly call our stuff kindy stuff anymore, so next fall we’ll call it First Grade year.

Reading – going swimmingly, I love Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading. I firmly believe in phonics and very few sight words so this is perfect. We cover about 1-2 lessons a day, 5x a week. Satori is trying to read things she hasn’t learned the phonics rules yet, but I’m only giving her beginner reader books until we get a little further. We haven’t covered R-Changed words yet, nor multi-syllable ones, so I can’t wait to reach those lessons, then I’ll feel a little better having her read bigger books. Right now we’re on lesson 134, just starting Silent Letters. Here’s a sample in case you were curious about this book, it covers sample lessons and shows an index to all 231 lessons.

This lesson is from last week and shows a sample of what she can read now.

We gave up on Explode the Code, it was just redundant. I don’t miss it. She is still barreling through ReadingEggs, she needs virtually no assistance from me, and everytime she sits down she gets through 3-5 lessons. One day she went through an entire map, but that was probably a mistake giving her that much computer time. I love that it teaches her to “save up” her eggs. For every lesson she gets several eggs, and she can use those to buy things for her virtual house and garden. She understands the concept of saving up, much better than Mama does!

Handwriting is closely being watched now, I mentioned her bad grip in the previous post. We’re rectifying this now, but it will take some time to get used to using a correct grip, slowing down, and trying to write neatly. We cover handwriting via copywork in a few other lessons as well.

Spelling is going well. We started Level 2, and zoomed through the first few lessons, as they were things she already knew (a review, beginning and ending blends, and Y-ending words). We’ll now take it more slowly I’m not afraid to take 2 weeks to finish a lesson, rather than the 3 days we usually take (we do Spelling 3 times a week).

Math – we just learned our hundreds, it is going well. For some reason I don’t get to this subject 4x a week as planned, but we both do really enjoy our RightStart math lessons. We’ve gotten addicted to logic games.

Vocabulary – we started Wordly Wise First Grade, which is still the colorful, fun program. She still absolutely loves this program. Is it too easy? Perhaps a bit so, but now I’ve got a daughter who loves words and I can’t say no to that!

History just rocks. So glad we started this. We’re averaging a SOTW lesson per week, which I didn’t expect to go through so fast at age 5. The next month we’ll be studying the ancient cultures of India, China and Africa, and SOTW dedicates only one lesson per region, so I think we can slow down and take our time on these cultures.

Science – Eek, totally slacking! I am working on fixing this. I’ve been working non-stop on how to make my favorite science curriculum work for us. More to come in the next few days.

Art – Bah, we haven’t done our art program at all this spring. Not too important, as we do artistic things all the time. If I can get more organized, we’ll start this again.

Writing – Just started Writing With Ease, and it is so easy. We learn about great children’s literature while working on narration and copywork. Answering in complete sentences is throwing Satori off a bit though, I can’t wait to cover more grammar so she understands what that means. She’ll reword my question and stick in her answer instead of giving me a natural complete sentence.

Grammar – First Language Lessons is going very well, also easy. Going over proper and common nouns. This program has given her a love for poetry already, or at least memorizing it and reciting it. 🙂

You know, looking back, all of the books written by Well-Trained Mind ladies are some of the easiest and most effective programs of the day.

Second half of spring plans

I am planning on adding Geography and Nature Studies as separate subjects. I am so, so psyched about adding these, even if we already have quite a full schedule! I have all materials here ready to go, just have to narrow down what to use and how to use it.

We’ve taken a step back in our handwriting progress, but it should help out in the long run. This year I’ve noticed that Satori doesn’t have extremely neat handwriting, especially at a point where I thought she’d be improving. This became apparent to me after having local girls her age over, who demonstrated very neat and in control handwriting. Then I saw in one of the photos I took that Satori’s grip was all wonky.

I then discovered that I myself had an incorrect grip! Actually I have two different grips, both not good. I’m not too worried about myself, as I mostly use the keyboard now and the little handwriting I do is still neat and legible. But this is an opportunity to correct Satori’s grip. She is really working hard at it now. We used all of Handwriting Without Tears tips on using a correct grip. It got a little frustrating trying to get everything right. Poor girl might get turned off of writing at this stage if I push too hard though.

A few months ago I believed that pencil grips were unnecessary, but we need some kind of help! So I found these colorful pencil grips and got a bag of 6 – The Pencil Grip Crossover Grip Ergonomic Writing Aid. They have little flaps so your thumb and index finger stay in the right place. There’s a comfy spot for your middle finger to rest, and together, it all promotes a proper tripod grip. It is ergonomically correct for both right- or left-handed people.

Both Satori and I are using them. For me, my fingers just fall right into perfect place. My thumb won’t cross over anymore. For Satori, all I have to remind her is to keep her middle finger tucked under, as she used to keep it up on top. We’ve been using them for just over a week now, and they are fun and feel good! Time will tell if Satori can get this new grip ingrained in her head and use a correct tripod grip from now on.

We’re also working on tilting our paper up on the right side while writing. Here she is doing some copywork for Writing With Ease, a program we are growing to love.

We did this activity right after our Rosetta Stone project, to take advantage of the other half of the black foam board.

What we know of Hammurabi was that he was a king of Babylon (c 1796 BCE – 1750 BCE), who is known for the set of laws called Hammurabi’s Code, the first written codes of law in recorded history. They were written on a over seven foot tall diorite (dark grey igneous rock) stele (tall stone slab). A few examples of his laws were:

  • If a man puts out the eye of an equal, his eye shall be put out.
  • If anyone commits a robbery and is caught, he shall be put to death.

Sounds pretty severe! He was actually a fair king, much better than the king Shamshi-Adad we’re learning about this week.

Here’s our activity spread out before we started. Images of Hammurabi’s Code of Laws stele, our stele, pen, and a book.

This book, The Rules by Marty Kelley is a silly book with silly illustrations, but Satori loved it, and of course I’ve had to read it four times in the past 24 hours. 🙂 We’re not very strict parents and Satori is a good girl, so we don’t have too many rules around the house, so this book was actually helpful to read to get us both in the mindset of laying down some rules.

Just as in the original stone, there is a top section with a picture of Hammurabi giving his laws to someone. Satori illustrated Mama in a chair, giving the rules to her standing before the Mama.


Then, I simply had her list all the rules that she could think of!

The Rosetta Stone isn’t just an overpriced foreign language program often marketed in airports and at the mall. For us, it is far more important, for it allowed us a glimpse inside the Egyptian world. The stone itself, created in 196 BCE,  is a black stone with carved text comprised of three translations of a single passage – Egyptian hieroglyphics, demotic, and classical Greek. Discovered in 1799 in Rosetta, Egypt, but not translated until 1822, it allowed us to read the previously undecipherable hieroglyphic writing. Perfect for little 5 year old girls who love to read hieroglyphs!

Here it is sitting in the British Museum. Mama is kicking herself for not going there when we were right next door just four months ago!

I thought it would be fun to make our own project of a Rosetta Stone. But instead of Egyptian demotic and classical Greek, we’d  use the language we knew (English) and one we don’t have memorized (Sumerian cuneiform).  The other day at the office store, I picked up a large black foam board. I cut it in half (the other half was for our next project). I used a scissors and made it roughly in the shape of the Rosetta Stone that is chipped on almost all corners.

Next I used a few free online translation sites to print out a page using the three languages, saying the same  phrase in each: My name is Satori.  Here’s the websites I used:

I gathered up all the materials. I got a large image of the Rosetta Stone printed out, my 3-translation sheet, our “Rosetta Stone” foam board, and a book. We re-read Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphs by James Rumford. Satori was so much more interested than the first time we read it – the day I introduced Egyptian writing to her. Since then, she’s learned so much!

Using our translation sheet as a guide, Satori started writing the  phrase “My Name is Satori”. We used a metallic pen so it would s how up nicely on the black board.

We did not forget to make a cartouche around her name. This was one of the important clues that helped translate the hieroglyphs. And see how it is shaped similar to the actual Rosetta Stone?

Today was such a gorgeously beautiful day. The sun was shining, we actually did our lessons out on the deck today. Birds tweeting all around us… Snow still all around, but we basked in the hot sun which made it feel like the perfect spring day…

Have you noticed a lot of geography posts lately?

I recently finished reading The Latin-Centered Curriculum by Andrew Campbell. I had to purchase it used, but I did get the second edition version that was written in the past year. You can get new in stock at the Memoria Press website, including an eBook version.

It has given me several things to think about for our classical education style of homeschooling. I already knew we have been following more of a neo-classical style, but wanted to see what this book had to offer. I won’t be following it 100%, like everything, we’ll take what we like and leave what we don’t. I appreciated the inclusive manner the book spoke to me, and am considering adding a few more subjects to our lineup now. (Namely geography and I’m still debating about a few more I’ll post on my self-education blog soon.) I read this book to help convince myself to include Latin in our homeschool subjects, but mostly what I came away with was the urge to simplify and streamline our studies. Due to my personality, I would find it hard to let go of a subject, but now I’ll be looking at all our subjects with a critical eye and deciding whether they are necessary. Ironically, mostly I came away compelled to add several new subjects to our already full schedule!

Anyway, now you may understand why the sudden urge for geography in our household! We now have geography books, workbooks, coloring books and more coming in the next few weeks and I hope to officially study geography once a week from now on. Satori has missed studying it, as we did a quick burst of geography lessons a few months ago. I’m very open to any suggestions at this point – geography for the K-2 years.

Geography has been a priority for me all along, I just figured we’d include geography in our history studies. For Christmas, all I wanted was a high quality globe. Thank you Mom and Dad (Satori’s grandparents)! We totally love it. We carefully chose a globe that will reflect our family’s style. We wanted a colorful, raised relief large globe. One that would allow both adults and children to stand up, twirl around easily, and familiarize ourselves with the world.

So our Trafalgar globe is now a great addition to our household.

If the globe ever needs an update, we can get a new ball at a greatly reduced cost.

Last week on one of the forums I frequent, someone mentioned this globe and after clicking her Amazon link, there was a message saying I had purchased it last February. Indeed, we did get our LeapFrog Explorer Smart Globe just over a year ago and it has been a delightful homeschooling tool. Amazon’s price seems to have more than doubled though! Here it is at on WorldGlobes.com for $119.98.

At this point, Satori is just starting to learn about Geography, so she can’t use all its interactive features yet. I am thinking about adding more Geography to our weekly lessons, maybe just one day a week. I gave her a whirlwind tour of Geography a few months ago, and she loved it.

Today we reviewed all the continents and oceans and played the Leapfrog Globe game. Here Satori is listening for the next Continent that she’ll have to find! She now has all her continents and oceans memorized.

This globe is fun for the whole family, and we’re looking forward to getting more and more use out of it every year!