Monday, December 9, 2013

Learning Through Horses- Books

I've decided to create a series to document how we incorporate horses into (almost) all our learning. I will link all the posts in this series to this resource page on our site. Feel free to visit often as we will update that page frequently (I hope!).

Muesum of Art sketching

To spare you from spending all day reading this post, I had Emma pick out her 5 favorite horse reference books. I limited my input to the two newest additions. Your welcome. 


"I like this book because it has 96 horse breeds and it has 'At A Glance' profiles of the horses"
I like this book because it focuses on horses of North America. Some of the breeds are rare or no longer around, but the information is really interesting.

"I like this one because it has a couple of very good breeds like the Morgan and the Missouri Fox Trotting horse."
Emma got this book when we were doing the Pony Club (which is not longer in operation-so sad). 

Emma uses this one most when looking up horse colors. That's what she told me. 

Emma likes this one, "just to look through because it has pretty pictures in the back."
This has horse breeds as well as basic info for taking care of a pony.

Emma likes this one, "because it has a lot of common breeds."
The details in this book seemed to be pretty good, but we have other books that provide more info about each breed. It has great pictures though, so that's why I think she likes it :0)

The photos in this book are stunning and depict the skeletal system, muscular system and other anatomical aspects of the horse. We are not really at a point where we use this book a whole lot yet, but I am excited for when we are ready!

The Evolution of the Horse
This book was discovered at our local toy store. Lots of great info and pages for Emma to color. We have dabbled off and on with the evolution of the horse and I think this book might give us a bit more motivation to stick with the subject from beginning to end.  

Again, to spare you, we are going to share a few of our favorite horse book authors are rather than list our favorite books.

Marguerite Henry: Misty of Chincoteague series is her most well known set of books. We actually own a lot of her books and have loved them all. We are always on the lookout for more of her books to add to our home library. 

Jessie Haas: We discovered Jessie Haas through the American Girl series about Saige. When we researched Jessie Haas (at Emma's request) we discovered that Jessie Haas has a long list of books about horses. We are on a mission to collect as many of her books as we can. 

Janet Muirhead Hill: Mrs. Hill is a Montana native. She wrote the Miranda and Starlight series that Emma and I both really enjoyed. I think this series will be read again once Emma is older. 

Ruth Sanderson: We found Ruth Sanderson through the Horse Diaries Series. Ruth Sanderson illustrated most of them, and Emma fell in love with her illustrations. We have borrowed many non-horse books just because she illustrated them. She has a bunch of books we would love to own, but have not been able to find yet. 

Colection of Horse Books

Emma loves to read. A lot. Most of the time she reads fiction books with horses as the main character. She will also read through her nonfiction horse books if she is looking for the answer to some question that has jumped into her brain. 

On top of the books that we own, just about every visit to the library has us coming home with one or more books about horses. I think we've borrowed all that they have, but we keep borrowing them anyway :0)

Horse Geography
Emma working on a horse geography sheet using the book Horses!, pictured above. 

If you haven't figure it out yet, we are pretty unstructured in our learning. This approach doesn't work for everyone, but it works for us. We don't have any one way that we do any of our learning, so let me explain a bit about...

A few ways we use books for learning:
Well, to state the obvious, we used horse books to help Emma learn to read. 

11Jan13- Learning (3)

We use horse books to spark interest in other areas. For instance this book (which we read at bedtime over many nights)

Time-Line and Lipizzaners (7)
Reading about the Spanish Riding School

Workbox 30Jan13 (2)
Creating a map of Austria. 

You can't really see it, but on the map printed out from google maps, we also tracked the route the Lipizzaners and their handlers from the Spanish Riding School had to use to escape during WWII. We used math to determine how many miles they had to travel. We also mapped out the route from where the stud farm is to where the riding school is. Again, we used math. 

Anyway, books are really the basis of just about everything we do. Without books we would be lost. 

Which is why I started this series with books!  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

No Learning, Just Playing

Nope, no learning going on here.

Emma the Naturalist (2)
Emma and The Tree.
We love this tree. So much going on with this tree. 

Emma the Naturalist (5)
"A spotless ladybug!"
The little bugger wouldn't stay still for very long, but she got a pretty good drawing of it anyway.

Ticket to Ride (2)
Ticket to Ride
Newest game/obsession. We played this twice in one day. A lot of strategy and a splash of chance keeps it pretty interesting. Emma's really good at strategy.

Ticket to Ride (4)

Ticket to Ride (5)

Feeder Fun (2)
We really do love The Tree. With crazy squirrels, cute chickadees and a random hawk, The Tree really does provide hours of entertainment. 

Feeder Fun (30)

Feeder Fun (39)
Like the squirrel feeder? We made it :0)
Maybe the little buggers will stay out of the suet feeders now...

Like I said, no learning going on here.

Oh, and Emma read and recorded herself reading Penny the Pony fairy. If anyone would like to hear Emma read it, you can do that here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Major Life Theme- Books

We love books.

Book Hoarders Bookstore

The missing book list last month wasn't because there was a lack of books read in the this house, it was because there were too many books read to keep up with. If you need proof of how much we love books, here is a link to posts I've written about books (there are 11, 12 if you count this one).

Lately, with Emma's drastic reading improvements, we can't seem to get books into her hands fast enough.


Honestly, I'm not all surprised at how much she reads. She comes from a long line of readers. Both her Memere and Gramma read, her great grandmas on my side both read, her aunties read.

And before I went through the 12 step program, I was a readaholic. I would read so much that Emma would have to tell me, multiple times, that she was hungry before it would penetrate my reading haze.

So I gave up reading fiction books. Unless we are at Gramma's because then I know Emma will get fed. Now I mostly read nonfiction, which is a bit easier for me to put down.

That is, I read nonfiction when I am NOT reading textbooks  

Anyway, I love how much Emma reads. Each morning when she wakes up, she heads to the living room with a book regardless of if I am awake or still sleeping. She will then read till breakfast (which some days means about 2 hours after she wakes up).

Just about every night before bed, Jared or I will read to her for about 10-30 minutes (I love it when Jared reads to her while I clean up after supper), then she reads to herself, in bed, for another 25-30 minutes.

Often times the story that we start reading to her, she finishes on her own before lights out. She reads crazy fast.

Anyway, this long winded post is actually leading up to a project that will be on-going for her. A book timeline. How about I stop typing and just let the pictures do most of the "talking."

The idea started with a picture on Pintrest.

Then I remember that a few months ago, Emma and I made an altered book out of a lot of her old art work. A perfect place to keep a timeline of her reading. 

Book Timeline (2)
Scanning book covers, which we then printed (as contact sheet) onto sticker paper.
Sticker paper is awesome. 

Book Timeline (4)
Cutting out individual book covers (while listening to an audio book). 

Book Timeline (1)
Applying book cover stickers to the cover of her book timeline. That's 35 books that she has read on her own or plans to read in the near future. 

Book Timeline (7)
And here is the month of October, so far. These are printed at wallet size.  
I had planned to have a two page spread per month, but that might not be enough space. 

Book Timeline (10)
"In Riding Rescue, Comet helps Gina get back on a horse again."
She places the sticker on the page, then writes a little about the book. As she gets older, I'll request that she write a bit more for each book, but for now, one or two sentences is fine.

I realize that the book covers are a bit hard to see with all the commotion in the background, but I'm o.k. with that. Besides, this book timeline will probably be full in a few months, then we can create a new one. 

What have you read lately?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

August's Books

I have no idea what this child has read this month. She goes through books so fast, I can't keep up. This will probably be the last month that I even attempt to keep up with it.

Horse Lessons- Mama- 30Aug13 (24)

Read to Herself
Books by Jessie Haas. We borrowed a bunch of books from the library by this author, and Emma has worked her way through them. Emma got hooked on Jessie Haas after reading the American Girl: Saige books.

Don't Pigeonhole Me by Mo Willems. This is kinda like is autobiography, but Emma flipped through and read all the comics/sketchbook drawings as well as a bit of other stuff.


Harry Potter- She listened to a few more in the series, currently working on #6.

Inkheart Trilogy- again.

A Dog's Life by Ann M. Martin. She said it was a little slow, but ok.

The Book of Elsewhere by Jacqueline West. The first in a series, and Emma seemed to enjoy it.

Read To Emma

Miranda and Starlight Series. We are finishing up our last book. Oh boy. This ones a big tear jerker. I read it through the other night and I think I cried for about an hour of the 2 hours it took me to read it. There are some interesting moral dilemmas that Miranda ends up facing, so it will be interesting to see what Emma's thoughts are on them.

That's it!

Have you read any good books lately?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Second Grade- Really?!?

Oh boy, this year Emma is technically considered a 2nd grader. What does that mean for us? Nothing really.

This year will probably follow the same basic routine as last year. We'll unschool (or hackschool) for the most part, with a few "structured" items thrown in for sanity's sake.

We actually started with some structure last week. Nothing major, just one task a day to get Emma back into the swing of things.

work list0001

I mean, I started school again, why shouldn't she?

On the 16th, Emma and I sat down and I asked her to pick something to work on in the following areas- Geography, History, Math, and Science. I knew I wanted the writing to be postcards or letters, and that she would be writing for most of the other tasks, so I didn't feel like she needed another specific task for this.

Writing also happens to be the "school" subject she is the least excited about.

I also didn't include a specific task for reading because this child reads like a fish swims.

Lost in a Book (1)
The ever elusive reader burrowed in her nest. 
(said in a Steve Urwin accent)

Lost in a Book (2)
Oh no, I've been spotted!

Emma Reading
She sure is "on the ball" with her reading. 

Learning (5)
Not sure what the deal is, but she hates it when I take pictures of her reading.

Bedtime Reading
If I'm sneaky enough, I can get some good ones. 

Anyway, back to the point of this post. As you can see in her list above, here is what we decided on:

Geography was a horse geography sheet about Thoroughbreds. She actually enjoys filling these out which makes this mama feel good about putting it together for her. 

She wrote two postcards.

Science was bumped to this week because she needed my help and we never got around to it. Bad mama. We will be making gak. 

Playing with numbers (math) is simply working through a 1st grade math workbook. She's already 1/2 way through it. She actually decided to work on it at bedtime last week and did about 5 pages. 

History was simply to write 3 or more sentances about a famous Thoroughbred. She chose to write about Seabiscuit. She first wrote the sentences out by hand, then typed them onto her computer. 

Learning (4)

We taped the handwritten portion to her horse geography sheet. 

On schedule for this week are
Math- more work book (already done)
Geography- Horse geography sheet about Welsh Ponies
Mail Call- Writing a letter and drawing a picture for the author of the Miranda and Starlight series that we are really loving right now. 
Science- Gak
History- Type a one page story (using size 24 font) about a welsh pony who traveled in time to the Ice Age (her idea). I'm interested to see how this one turns out. I actually have a worksheet for her to use to gather some info about the Ice Age- if she decides to use it. 

And that's it. 

What did you learn this week?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Word Play

Emma loves words. Small words. Big words. She loves them all. Almost daily she throws big words into everyday conversations (and uses them correctly!). Every time it happens, Da and I just look at each other like, "Where did she learn that word?"

Jared and I can't take much of the credit for her huge vocabulary. I give most of the credit to all the audio books she as listened too, all the books she has read to herself, and yes, all the books we have read to her.

I suppose the fact that Jared and I never "dumb it down" when we talk to her has helped a lot as well.

Well, to be honest, sometimes I will intentionally use a big word because I love it when Emma asks, "What does that mean?"

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but I bet he was pretty smart when he died.

Anyway, the other day I was catching up on some of the blogs I follow, and this one got the gears turning in my head. I loved the idea, and so Emma and I sat down and cut out a bunch of words.

Emma got frustrated with it ("I have no idea what words I'm suppose to be cutting out!"). So I continued on my own. I found the task kinda relaxing actually, so I really didn't mind it.

As I was cutting I thought it would be cool if I could glue them to some sticker paper so that when we were ready to use them, it would be easier and less messy.

Then I got the genius idea to scan them, save them on my computer, and then print them onto sticker paper. The coolest part about doing it that way?

I can share them with the world! (Well, I can share them with the 20 or so people who actually read this blog).

sorry for the upside down one, I forgot to fix it before uploading. 

If you decided you'd like to play around with the words, you should be able to just click on the picture to make it bigger then print it out. If you have trouble, just shoot me an e-mail or comment below and I will help you out. 

After I cut out a bunch of words today, I had a good sized pile on my desk. As Emma was goofing off on my exercise ball/desk chair, I suggested she make a sentence. She made a few and seemed to enjoy the process. 

The Women ranchers look at the big city.
Your new pet is the very best in the derby. 

We probably would have keep going  but groceries needed to be done (sometimes the need to eat is so inconvenient). 

If you use the words for anything, I would love to hear about it! Have fun.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July's Books

I did a REALLY bad job of keeping track of Emma's books this month. I had 2 big projects, 2 midterms, and 2 finals this month, so that took up a lot of my attention.

Helena, MT 20Oct13 (8)

Read/Listened to by Emma

Comics/Graphic Novels

Guinea Pig Pet Shop Private Eye #'s 2-5 by Colleen AF Venable
Grimm Graphic Novels:
Tom Thumb retold by Scott Sonneborn
The Golden Goose retold by Sean Tulien
The Elves and the Shoemaker retold by Martin Powell
Snow White retold by Martain Powell
The Three Little Pigs retold by Lisa Trumbaur

Chapter Books
Martha Speaks - Various titles, she read about 6 of them.
Magic Ponies #4: Show-Jumping Dreams by Sue Bentley
Magic Pony #1: A Dream Come True by Elizabeth Lindsey (I know, confusing that the two series are almost called the same thing).

Picture Books
Boris and the Wrong Shadow by Leigh Hodgkinson
Imogene's Antlers by David Small
Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry.

E-books Emma started a few e-books but hasn't finished any yet.
Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon
Happily Every Emma by Sally Warner

Audio Books
Harry Potter #2-3 by J.K. Rowling
Inkheart and Inkspell by Cornelia Funke

Read to/With Emma
We started a new series, Miranda and Starlight by Janet Muirhead Hill. We got the 5 book series for a steal when a store selling local made items was going out of business (the owners were retiring). So far, it's a really good, realistic story about a girl who lives with her grandparents (her mother is alive but not a very responsible individual), loves horses, and has a lot of struggles to deal with. Also, written by a Montanan, taking place in Montana. We like it.

There are so many more books that we have read together, or that Emma has read on her own, but I just couldn't keep up with them or her. I also did a bad job taking pictures this month, so no pictures. Sorry!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Emma's Work In Progress

One of the best things right now about me taking college classes is I can pass some of the learning on to Emma.

While her eyes kinda glaze over when I start spouting business law stuff, they lit up today when I showed her how to make a PowerPoint presentation.

Why did I teach her how to make a PowerPoint presentation? My first response is, "why not?" But actually, Emma mentioned this morning that she wanted to make a new inventory of her horses, went into a bit of detail about how she wanted to do it, and I thought that perhaps a PowerPoint presentation might be what she was looking for.

At first, she wasn't super excited. She thought it was going to be a chore. But then I explained that she could update it every time she got a new horse without having to reprint the entire inventory (right now we have a contact sheet printed out from all 89 pictures of her horses). This way, she can print out each new horse as she acquires them and updates her inventory.

Anyway, enough words, here are some pictures.

Horse PPT Inventory In Progress (2)
Entering in basic info

Horse PPT Inventory WIP (3)
Playing with the different photo effects. 

I helped her set up the first slide, showed her how to copy it, then set her loose. Once she had about 10 slides titled, she was ready for the photos. I showed her once how to add the photos, change the look of the photo frame, and how to crop and adjust the photos. I walked through it with her once, then she ran with it on her own. 

After she finished 39 slides (some with multiple photos), I showed her how to make fun transitions, and she played with that for a bit. 

The presentation isn't totally finished, but she worked on it for like 5 hours. I convinced her that maybe she should take a break for the rest of the day. Now she's watching Scooby Doo :0)

Anyway, enjoy Emma's first (but not last) PowerPoint presentation! 

I can't wait to teach her more fun things to do on the computer.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

June's Books

Wow this list got long! I'm thinking that maybe next month we should just mention our favorites, unless you like seeing almost everything we have read and listened too (I'm sure I've missed something along the way). 

Reading Fairy Tale Graphic Novels

Emma Read

Picture/Begginer Books
Biggest, Strongest, Fastest by Steve Jenkins. A non-fiction picture book about different animals. It compares the sizes of the animals to people for reference. Emma picked it up and started reading it while we were rearranging the living room.

What Do You Do With a Tail Like This by Steve Jenkins. More books about animals!

Once We Had a Horse by Glen Rounds. This is one of the books Emma found after learning to navigating the library.

The Three Bully Goats by Leslie Kimmelman. A fun retelling of an old classic. We both misread the title at first, until Emma started reading this to me. Funny. Another book that was read in the car on the way home from the library.

Watch Me Throw the Ball! by Mo Willems. 

What can we say, these books are just awesome. If you have a beginning reader, or a struggling reader, these books are worth a shot. Hilarious, simple, and quick to read. And they always seem to contain a hidden message. Oh, if you happen to be in the Massachusets area, you should check out his exhibits in two different museums: The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and R. Mitchelson Galleries. I so wish we could go.

More Mo Willems awesomness. If you are looking for books to do lessons with, he has a "Party Kit" for teachers with suggested questions and ideas to go along with each Elephant and Piggie book. A little young for Emma, but I think it would be fun for kids age 4-6.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
Apparently I'm on a Mo Willems kick right now. Check out this video interview with him and Al Rokar on the Today Show.

I just spent about 2 hours reading about Mo Willems. I want to meet him, he seems like a great guy. I now want all of his books.

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems. This is the book that made Mo Willems famous. Emma enjoyed it. She read it to me so that I got to enjoy it as well :0)

Robert the Rose Horse by Joan Heilbroner. This was a random grab off the shelf cause it said horse in the title. No clue what Emma thought about it. Now she just reads the books, them puts them on my desk so I can record them. I have three from yesterday to enter (the 26th).

Grandfather Buffalo by Jim Arnosky.

Lost & Found by Shaun Tan. I am not sure if this falls under picture book or graphic novel, but to me it looks more like a picture book, so that's why it's here. The illustrations look all mixed media and fun.

Chapter Books

Magic Ponies #2: A Special Wish by Sue Bentley. More magical tales of Comet the Pegasus in search of his twin sister Destiny.

Saige by Jessie Hass. Emma is still working her way through this American Girl book. It's tough to finish a chapter book when you are reading 3 at the same time! (Also tough to finish it if you loose it in your room somewhere!) We found this book and Emma has finished it, now she's onto

Saige Paints the Sky by Jessie Hass.

Traitor in the Shipyard: A Caroline Mystery by Kathleen Ernst. This is the book Emma picked out when she turned in her summer reading sheet at Barnes and Nobles. She had to start reading it in the car. And while we walked through Sam's Club. Then more while we did actual groceries. She even read some of it out loud to me. Oh, it's also an American Girl book.

Molly the Pony: A True Story by Pam Kaster. This is a true story about a pony with a prosthetic leg (that makes a smiley face 'hoof' print). A great early reader, that may spark some interest in learning more about real horses. She read this to me in the car on the way home from the library.

Lulu Walks the Dogs by Judith Viorst. We loved the Lulu and the Brontosaurus (it's under Read To Emma), that I went to the website and requested that they hold this one for us. Emma read it to herself, but I may have to give it a read before it goes back to the library.

At the Base Library
At the base library

Graphic Novels
Amulet books 2-5 by Kazu Kibushi. Emma really enjoyed this series and she is hoping that the author writes more. 

The Princess and the Pea, Repunzel, and The Emperor's New Clothes: Fairy Tale Graphic Novels retold by Stephanie Peters and illustrated by various artists. These were pretty quick reads for her, but she loved them. I could tell by the giggles and the constant, "Mama, listen to this..." 

Horse Angel Comic Book: Ride Into Fear by Pony Club. This is comic about horses. I wish we could find more of them, but it's from the Pony Club mailing program that is no longer open for business. 

Guinea Pig Pet Shop Private Eye: Hamster and Cheese by Colleen AF Venable. The latest find at the library. Emma liked it, read it in one sitting. 

Audio Books

Emily Windsnap and the Siren's Secret by Liz Kessler. Emma listened to this one on her own, well, except for the last 30 minutes or so. At least I know how the book ended...

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone by J. K. Rowling. Yes, we have listened to this entire series, but Emma has been wanting to re-listen to it. So, there you go.

100 Cupboards #3 by N. D. Wilson. As far as we know, this is the last in the series, but we will keep an eye out for more.

Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness #1) and In the Hand of the Goddess (Song of the Lioness #2) and The Women Who Rides Like a Man (Song of the Lioness #3) and Lioness Rampant (Song of the Liioness #4) by Tamara Pierce. This series is about a young girl (she's about 10 when the story starts) that wants to be a learn to be a knight, not about the art of magic. Her twin brother wants nothing to do with being a knight, but wants to learn the art of magic. So when the two are sent off to their respective schools, they forge some paperwork so that they are now both boys, and Alanna goes off to become a knight while her twin goes off to learn the art of magic. A great series (I did listen to some of the first one), one that Emma is really enjoying.

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan. This was about a father and his two children in need of a wife/mother. He put an add the paper looking for a wife, and Sarah traveled to them to see if it would work out. Set during the time of horse and wagons. Emma enjoyed it.

Stormchaser (The Edge Chronicles: The Twig Trilogy, Book 2) by Paul Stewart. More adventures of Twig. In this book he goes on an adventure with his Sky Pirate father to the Twilight woods.

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. (Per Emma) About Harriet, who is a spy. Harriet sneaks out and spies on people and writes down in her journal what they do.

Harriet Spies Again by Helen Erickson. I had no idea this was by a different author till I looked it up for this post. I got to listen to a bit of it, but Emma seemed to like it.

Bunnicula meets Edgar Allan Crow by James Howe. We listened to the set a while back (I think on our last trip to AZ) and when Emma saw this in the on-line library, she really wanted to listen to it. It was a quick 2 hours, but she really enjoyed it.

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers. A oldie but goody. Emma says that it's "WAY different than the first one!" she means the movie. She realizes that the book came first, but still likes the movie better because Mary Poppins is nice in the movie, and they go on a magic carousel. She was sad that the magic carousel was not in the book. *apparently the books are a series. Might have to look into this.

Library Books
Library books. Public on the left, base on the right.

Books Read to Emma
Stormy: Misty's Foal by Margurite Henry. This was a sad one! I actually cried a few times while reading it out-loud to Emma. All of the books in this story are based on real events, and this one is based on the hurricane that nearly destroyed the wild pony herd in 1962. So, I cried a few times and Emma kinda laughed at me, but I could tell it made her sad as well. The books ends on a happy note though, so that's good. And I think this may have been my favorite one so far.

Misty's Twilight by Margurite Henry. It's that last in the series. We are enjoying it, but I am about ready for something else.

Farm Boy: The Sequel to War Horse by Michael Morpurgo. Emma loved, loved, loved War Horse. She would listen to it over and over again on audio. I picked this sequel up from the library the other day, and we read it over the last 2 days. At bedtime. It was a very short book, and a bit disappointing. I feel like it really wasn't much of a sequel at all. Joey, the horse from the first book, appeared in it, but he wasn't the main character. Emma actually asked if we had to read it.

Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst. A super fun book. Emma and I read this one together (taking turns reading to each other). She and I both loved that the author added little notes throughout the book justifying why she was writing the things she was. A really fun, quick read. Can't wait to see what other ones are out there!

We've signed back up at In Iowa, the libraries were fantastic, so we really didn't need to acquire books any other way. Now we need to start hunting through the thrift stores, and we've decided to start swapping books again. It typically costs less then $3 to ship a book, and for each book we send, we get a credit for any book we want. Not a bad deal. Not as cheap as the library or the thrift store, but we can actually get books we are looking for. For the most part. And it helps us find new homes for books we no longer read. Although it's tough parting with the books sometimes.

***So what do you think, just post about our favorites or keep listing all the books I can remember?***