Thursday, February 28, 2013

Free poetry book

Getting ready for National Poetry month? In case you did not know, that is the month of April, according to the Academy of American poets. Is there a better way to celebrate the love of music and beautiful words than enjoying a little sample of the wonderful poems the English speaking world has produced?

That is what you'll find in this volume of selected poems for children. This collection progresses from little poems written for children in the past centuries, to examples of the best British and American poems both past and present. Hope you enjoy!!

You can download "100 Poems for the classical child" for free from my blog. I have 2 versions, one for Kindle and one as a pdf, just in case you want to print the work. 

100 poems for the classical child (Kindle version)

100 Poems for the classical child - .pdf file (you will need Acrobat Reader)

All materials for personal use only. Thank you!

And, if you are interested in more Kindle books for children, see here. I am planning to add more titles soon :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tangram fun!

The tangram (Chinese: "seven boards of skill") is a dissection puzzle consisting of seven flat shapes, called tans, which are put together to form shapes. The objective of the puzzle is to form a specific shape (given only an outline or silhouette) using all seven pieces, which may not overlap. It was originally invented in China at some unknown point in history, and then carried over to Europe by trading ships in the early 19th century. It became very popular in Europe for a time then, and then again during World War I. It is one of the most popular dissection puzzles in the world
(From Wikipedia)

We just love tangram... it can be quite easy or quite challenging, and it just provides a wonderful fun way to improve geometrical perception.
These are some of the shapes you can build...I have a book that boasts +6000 combinations, with the corresponding "solution", so it is a self correcting work that allows children to work independently... I am going to make some cards to share soon...

But let's start with the set itself.

I have a black plastic Tangram set, but my children each wanted their own, so made a very simple one with black construction paper that has been previously laminated.

You can basically use any material you want, from  cereal boxes to wood, of any size you want. All you need to do is start with a square.

Step 1
Draw a square of at least 8" x 8"

Step 2

Step 3
Step 4

Step 5

Step 6

Step 7

Step 8

Friday, February 8, 2013

Living books

One of the main tools used in Charlotte Manson’s educational approach, ‘Living books’, have always been very attractive to me. These books, unlike normal text books, are texts written in first person form by a single author with a lot of passion about the subject written.

Living books are engaging to read as well as understandable and interesting.

I have been working to make some of these books more accessible, in particular the ones that retell classic works of literature, together with the ones that  help understand a particular historical period either by fictional narrations or by biographies of actual historical figures.

Some of these beautifully written books are almost 100 years old, but have lost none of their charm, and the beauty of the language is hard to find elsewhere, at least as far as children's literature is concerned.

The idea of using living books that retell a classic is really a very fruitful one: you get the benefit of a well written, engaging book paired with the introduction to works of literature that have formed the backbone of our civilization. The children grasp the main plot and the characters, and thus the ground is prepared for a later time when the classical work is to be read in its entire form.

As a secondary benefit, children are exposed to a richness of lexicon and variety of sentence structure that highly benefits their literacy, their cultural background and their vocabulary and expression.

Here are the links I have adapted to the Kindle format, with the added value of artwork from well know artist which have depicted the stories throughout the ages, thus incorporating some art study to the main literature and history line.




I hope to publish many more, so I'll keep you posted.

NOTE:  If you do not own a Kindle, you can read these books in your computer. 

Free audio book (with coupon)

If you enjoy audiobooks with the kids, here is a wonderful classic free for this month from Downpour:

Use the coupon SAWYEREMAIL at the check out, and you can download it for free.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Play time!

A good introduction to the dramatic art, this role play can take place in a mini theater made out of cardboard... See here

Make this strongman dance! Or play with a mermaid, the Big Bad Wolf, Little Red Ridinghood, a very charming Prince or the Fairy Princess!

Download the Theater printable here
(pdf contains 3 A4 pages, 872 kb)

What we did with ours:

- Print in color

- Stick to cardboard (cereal box will work)

- Laminate

- Cut each piece leaving a 2 mm margin

- Join with butterfly clips at joints

- Play!!! :)It is interesting how many stories come from this eclectic mix of characters...

 Can't wait for the next one!! I'll keep you posted!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Botanical Book with wonderful art

 Today, I'm sharing this resource  TOTALLY FREE, courtesy of

Botanicus is a free, Web-based encyclopedia of digitized historic, botanical literature from the Missouri Botanical Garden Library. They have been digitizing materials from their library since 1995, focusing primarily on beautifully illustrated volumes from their rare book collection.

 Go here, scroll through the pages list on the left  and enjoy. And if you want to download the whole book in .pdf format, just press "download" at the top of the page. The individual plates then can be printed as needed.

I personally find this botanical plates quite fascinating, and even young children, with their enormous appetite for everything natural and real, are quite attracted to them.

You can browse the complete catalog here

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Drawing with children

I found the book by Mona Brooks, "Drawing with children", very inspiring, since it introduces children to drawing in a very gentle and systematic way, training the eye to see detail in order to be able to draw better.

In her next book, "Drawing with older children and teens" she explores the ideas further. I really enjoyed the way copying doodles help to train the eye, and even foster new tools for creativity.

That is why I've created my own doodles for my children, and I am sharing the file  . Please for personal use only, thank you! You will find 3 pages of designs to copy, plus a blank page at the end to incorporate your own. I truly believe children enjoy things better (and learn more) if they see us enjoying it, too :)