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    Books & Reading, Other Thoughts

    Seven Quick Takes, Books and Prizes Edition!

    September 2, 2016 by Brandy Vencel

    Seven Quick Takes

    :: 1 ::

    We’re fully back in the swing of things, and fortunately that means I figured out where our read alouds will fit into our busy days. Because read aloud time? It’s not optional at our house! We just finished The Johnstown Flood. It was so interesting. At one point, I had my doubts about the wisdom of this choice — it just went on and on about how horrible it was {and rightly so!} and I was a bit worried it was too much for a couple of my children, but it turned out just fine. Interestingly enough, the description of how the flood happened tied in nicely with our initial lessons from Rocks, Rivers, and the Changing Earth.

    I couldn’t have planned that if I’d tried!


    :: 2 ::

    Congratulations to Amy and Catherine! Amy and Catherine won signed copies of Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins. {As a reminder to you two: you have to reply to my email by the deadline or we pick a new winner.}

    To order your own copy of the book, go here.


    :: 3 ::

    This week’s links collection:


    :: 4 ::

    This month in 2014:

    Record keeping for encouragement

    I forgot about this post — it’s all about keeping homeschool records that will make you smile.


    :: 5 ::

     We also finished our after dinner read aloud, Stories from the Old Squire’s Farm. It was excellent. It was interesting and funny and gave us a lot of insight into the Civil War and post-Civil War era.

    If you have enjoyed books like Little House on the Prairie and Little Britches, you will love this as well. We liked it so much, that we immediately picked up the other one, Sailing on the Ice.


    :: 6 ::

    I don’t usually do a ton of personal reading during the school year, but so far I’ve been able to fit in a bit, which is just lovely. I read The End of Acne in a 24-hour period. Usually an advocate of slow reading, as you know, I did this for two reasons. First, I was pretty sure I knew a lot of what she was going to say {I was right}, so I was primarily interested in how she did her own investigation {she’s an FBI analyst}, and also any tricks she learned that might help the nameless people at my house facing puberty.


    When I finished that one, the book on water chemistry {which I had forgotten I’d ordered} arrived, and I threw a little party and decided to keep reading. The Fourth Phase of Water is a book I had been eyeing for a while, but it’s on the expensive side and I felt I couldn’t justify the expense. But then my son said he wanted to read it, and at the same time I found a good deal. Problem solved!

    So far, it is oh so good. It’s the cutting edge of water science, but written for non-scientists. It starts with a “breviary” that is just fantastic — pictures of different molecules or phenomena, with clear and simple definitions below. The author includes the history of water science alongside explanations of his experiments and findings. So far, I’m loving it.


    :: 7 ::

    Answering Your Questions:

    • Question: I was wondering if you have any resources for how you teach art to your children. Artistry is not my specialty and I don’t feel like I have any clue where to start helping my son develop his drawing, etc. Please help!
      • Answer: Well, the bad news is that I’m still not that great at this. The good news is that I think that there is much to be said for daily drawing when children are that age. I tried various approaches to teaching basic drawing and fine art skills at that age, and didn’t really succeed. I’m not sure it was the books that was the problem — it is very possible that the problem was me! I hesitate to suggest anything because I was mostly unsuccessful. One of my favorite books in later years has been Art for Kids Drawing. For younger {primary} years, I found the Draw Write Now series to be helpful {though a bit cartoonish}. These are books that I purchased and kept on hand, and when a child approached me and said he wanted to learn to draw better, I handed him whatever I thought was appropriate, and he greatly improved on his own, using the book in his free time.I definitely think that nature journaling is the first and most important art lesson. Just drawing regularly will help. With that said, improving your own abilities will help, also. I have noticed that the vast majority of kids I know who draw well have parents that can model and help out.


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  • Reply Amy Sterrett September 3, 2016 at 6:25 pm


    Have you already sent the email?
    How do I know if I am the Amy?

    Amy Sterrett

  • Reply Leanne September 2, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    You can draw in 30 days is excellent, by Mark Kistler. Wish I had found it earlier in our home educating journey. We do it as a family (with my younger kids once a week) but you could easily give it to a competent reader to work through on a daily basis if you wanted. I highly recommend it.

  • Reply Rachel Keppner September 2, 2016 at 10:55 am

    I have a good friend that homeschools and teaches an online art course. We have really enjoyed her lessons! You can find them here:

    It’s been a real blessing for our budding artist. 🙂

  • Reply Julie Zilkie September 2, 2016 at 6:29 am

    Yes, as we head into the land of puberty over here, I would love to know what you gleaned from this, as I have no money in the budget to buy this book right now!

  • Reply Kelly September 2, 2016 at 5:52 am

    So . . . are you allowed to share the root cause of acne, or is that proprietary information and by purchasing the book you’ve sworn yourself to secrecy? 😉

  • Reply Erin September 2, 2016 at 2:19 am

    Re Acne- when we struggled with this for one of our sons I read a fascinating booklet, Acne Vulgaris A Disease of Western Civilization by Loren Cordain and consequently we changed his/and our diet to a grain free, sugar free one for the next 2 years. we received some relief (he was really bad)

    As for your reader and Art, we’ve just started an online course Artventure, highly recommend it. Quality work my children are producing and I don’t have to do a thing, no more guilt! and use the code ARTVENTUREHOMESCHOOLDISCOUNT2016 This is a lifetime 50% off licence!
    The lifetime means it’s not a 1 off code. Anyone who uses it gets 50% off forever, when they renew their licence the system will remember their discount and won’t charge them full price (if they choose to renew). Oh and this is Aussie dollars, so much cheaper for Americans.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel September 2, 2016 at 7:29 am

      Erin, she did mention that following a paleo diet cause a lot of relief for her for a time, so she definitely recommends it!

      And thank you for the art site. I will be checking it out!

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