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Category: Books

Creating a Reading Tree has been a dream of mine for a few years and finally I am just going to build it. If anyone has any links to photos of Reading or Book Trees that they’ve done that are similar, I am all ears! I’m still in the brain-storming phase.

For every book read, we will add a leaf to our tree. I do have a leaf punch that I believe will work well. I didn’t want the leaves to be too big, as I envision a colossal tree with a huge abundance of leaves in the years to come. But I still need room to leave the details. We’ll add a little thumbnail of the book to the leaf, as well as date and one of the following codes:

  • IR – Satori Independent Read
  • RA – Mom or Dad Read Aloud
  • AB – Audiobook

These thumbnails might be a bit too big yet, I’ll still have to refine our leaves. Branches will be another decision…

Next, where to put the tree? I have magnetic walls in parts of our Reading Room and we stuck a small magnet on the back of some sample leaves and they stuck to the wall perfectly.

The advantage of this is we can take down the leaves easily and put them back up, without affecting the wall. Satori can easily reach the Reading Tree here. This location also “sets off” the leaves nicely with the deep green and vivid orange-yellow.

I would take down our Dr. Seuss shelf and timelines here to make more room. The disadvantage is that if our door is open, it will hide the wall.

So that leads me to wonder if we should place it on the far wall. I’d take down our map and make a grandiose tree in a position that would be a showcase in our library. It is not magnetic so I’d probably use some kind of putty to stick the leaves to the wall. Once I can make an appealing brown branch tree design on brown paper, I’d cut it out and put it up and then stick the leaves near the branches.


Anyone have any suggestions or ideas? Has anyone done this or know someone who has? Any help would be appreciated!

This past week I’ve been obsessed with books and what better project to do next than to start cataloging our book collection! I’ve been playing around with four book catalog software systems and hopefully next month emerge with our favorite. Our new barcode scanner (just $30) arrived today to make cataloging a cinch.

Satori and I made a video to show how easy it can be to catalog your very own book collection. In this video we are using Collectorz. One of these days we will learn how to make our videos more professional and smoother. 🙂

I’m asking for your help! The past few days I have been compiling a huge children’s literature list. I thought I would make a top 100, but it quickly surpassed that number and now I’m at 250. I opened up suggestions at a few homeschooling forums and I’ve been flooded with suggestions.

This list is books suitable for children in the grade 1-6 range, although a little lower and higher would work as well. All must be still in print so they would be easy to find. Nothing is more frustrating than finding a great book list, only to have them all out of print!

Here is the list as it stands so far – Children’s Literature Sortable List. As you can see, it’s sortable by Title, Author, Last Name, Page Count, Copyright Year, Genre and Newbery award. Books that are more appropriate for older children are marked.

I’m still open for suggestions, additions/subtractions/revisions and feedback. Once done, I’ll work on making a printable PDF page (my initial attempts have failed, but I’ll keep trying).


Seeing that Amazon had quite a few Basher Books on sale for just $3.60 earlier this month, I decided it was time to start our Basher Book collection. I was happy with the books we got and took a bunch of pictures with the intention to blog about them. I dropped the ball on that though, and now only a couple are on sale. I apologize I didn’t have a more timely post, but it looks like Planet Earth and Physics are still on sale. Otherwise, you can get the new and updated versions at a decent price. Some qualify for Amazon’s 4-for-3 promotion.

What are Basher Books? These are colorful, quirky science (and other topics) books designed starting for ages 8-10, but like almost everything we use, we take off a few years. The cute illustrations speak to children in an memorable and accessible manner. They are small books, measuring 7″ x 7″  with 128 pages. The author and illustrator is Simon Basher.

So far we have these books plus Planet Earth which just arrived today.

Here’s a peek inside The Periodic Table.

A closeup of one of the “characters”…

It seems like most of the books (but not all) include a poster. They are attached in the back of the book and are perforated so come out easily, measuring about 9″x13″.  The coolest one is from their Periodic Table book.


Basher website offers a download page which includes a large version of the above poster, other posters, desktop wallpaper and more. Here’s their Periodic Table PDF poster.

Here’s a page out of Astronomy – Out of This World.  The lower right corner shows one of the books with the black remainder mark since I got it at the clearance price.

The included poster…


A page out of Rocks and Minerals – A Gem of a Book!

More posters in action.

Here is more information about each book on the Basher Laboratories website. It doesn’t seem to be a complete list though. We’ll be building up our little collection, although some of the books will not be relevant for a year or two for us.

We look forward to getting the new Grammar – Write Here, Write Now book next which just came out last week.



Head on over to Scholastic Teacher Express to catch their Dollar Deals sale! They have an astounding assortment of eBooks on every subject, each one just $1.00. The regular price is anywhere from $5.95 to over $20, so you can save hundreds of dollars by just spending a few bucks.

It ends tonight though (1/31/2011), so hurry on over and check it out!

Here’s what we got. I hear the Human Body eBook is particularly cool! I hope to review more of them as we get time. I think they have this sale often, so I’ll be back for more next time!

  • Easy Make & Learn Projects: Human Body
  • Lift & Look Science Mini-Books and Manipulatives
  • Literature Guide: Lord of the Rings
  • Instant Map Skills: United States
  • U. S. Map Crosswords
  • Word Study Learning Packs
  • Easy Make & Learn Projects: Penguins
  • Frogs
  • Math Skills Made Fun: Great Graph Art to Build Early Math Skills
  • Reading Success Mini-Books: Sight Words in Spanish
  • Instant Habitat Dioramas
  • Amazing Hands-on Map Activities
  • 20 Hands-On Activities for Learning Idioms
  • Easy Make & Learn Projects: Colonial America
  • Let’s Learn Mini-Books: Our Nation
  • Easy Make & Learn Projects: Southwest Indians
  • Money Math Learning Centers
  • Teaching Electricity—Yes You Can!

This morning over breakfast, Satori asked if I knew what “I’m at the end of my rope” means. I asked her where she learned that phrase from. She then brought me the little vocabulary flip-books we just started using last month. This phrase was in one of the books.

I saw these little flip-books at a local Barnes and Noble and knew that they would be a hit at our house. I purchased from Amazon and used their 4-for-3 and started out with the Vocabulary Power Grade 1 and Raining Cats and Dogs idiom book. Satori is so thrilled with them! She even tried packing them with us on our summer vacations.

They are little flip books that stand up by themselves, each book contained 200 words selected by professional language specialists for the specified age. They’re cute and colorful and fun to use. We loved them so much I ordered Grade 2 and Sound-A-Likes (400 homonym/homophones). There is only one idiom and homeophone book, so we only flip to a new page a few times a week, while the First Grade 1 we flip over everyday.

We’ll be on our Wisconsin trip until August 1, total driving over 32 hours just there and back. I’ve loaded up my iPhone so we can listen to audiobooks in the car. Our local library has free audio downloads and we’ve gotten quite addicted to listening to audiobooks in the car on long drives. Here’s what we’ll be listening to:

  • Ramona the Pest (just in time to watch Ramona and Beezus this Friday)
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (have this timed to arrive on Netflix in Wisconsin)
  • Peter Pan (will be seeing this at a dinner theater in August)
  • Disney Fairies
  • Ella Enchanted
  • Charles and Emma (more for David and I on the ride back)
  • The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book 2)
  • Story of the World – Ancient Times (will review what we’ve read up through today)
  • Burgess Bird Book for Children

The only movies I’ll have along are Anne of Green Gables (just listened to this audiobook on our last trip), Pocohontas, and King Tut’s Final Secret.

As for the blog, I’ve scheduled a bunch of posts to activate throughout the week, so no one will get bored staring at the same last post!