PreK – K: Birthday

This past week was my daughter’s birthday. So, this theme includes a few books we found at our library that revolve around birthday celebrations.

Please click here to see how I select books for my lists.
  • If A T. Rex Crashes Your Birthday Party by Jill Esbaum
    This book explains all the ways that a misbehaving T. Rex could ruin your celebration.
    SOCIAL STUDIES: Birthday traditions
  • Happy Birthday, Jamela! by Niki Daly
    This story tells about a South African girl who is shopping for clothes for her 7th birthday. She wants “Princess Shoes”, but her mother buys her sensible school shoes instead. So, the girl bedazzles the shoes, which makes her mother mad. However, a local artist likes the shoes and invites the girl to make more with her and sell them. So, the girl earns enough money for her mother to buy her new school shoes and the “Princess Shoes”.
    SOCIAL STUDIES: South Africa, Xhosa language, entrepreneurship

    ART: Creativity, craft markets
    MATH: Prices, budget choices
  • The Birthday Queen by Audrey and Don Wood
    This book uses very colorful illustrations to tell about a fairy-godmother-like woman who makes sure that everything is perfect for your birthday party.
    SOCIAL STUDIES: Birthday traditions
  • Happy Birthday, Cupcake! by Terry Border
    This story follows a cupcake and a muffin as they try to come up with ideas for Cupcake’s birthday party. The book uses real photographs of foods made into figures and set in real scenery.
    SOCIAL STUDIES: Considering the needs of individuals in a group
  • Happy Birthday, Big Bad Wolf by Frank Asch
    In this spin-off from the Three Little Pigs, a young pig mistakenly thinks that his family is throwing a surprise party for the wolf. His parents have to play along to avoid being eaten.

    LITERACY: Retelling a fairy tale
    SOCIAL STUDIES: Birthday traditions
If you liked this list, please check out my other Book Suggestions for Preschool and Kindergarten Units and subscribe to get updates when I post new lists.

 

PreK – K: Physical Characteristics and Growth

The books in this theme deal with some aspect of the physical body. Some books are about physical characteristics, others focus on what a body can do.

Please click here to see how I select books for my lists.

My daughter wanted to read this book over and over! It uses short phrases and lively pictures of kids and families to talk about different characteristics of skin. It covers different shades of skin, that skin grows and heals, sensations, and uniqueness.

SCIENCE: Skin

SOCIAL STUDIES: Multi-culturalism, family life, community

 

This story starts out with a little penguin wanting a certain bedtime story. It turns out that it is the story of his mom’s upbringing by a dragon mother within a dragon community that is not very accepting of a penguin. However, the penguin saves the young dragons’ lives because she is different from them.

SOCIAL STUDIES: Adoption, appreciating differences within a community

SCIENCE: Antarctic environment, volcanoes, animal adaptations

 

This book tells all the things a little boy can almost do because he is nearly grown up.

SOCIAL STUDIES: Sibling relationships

LANGUAGE ARTS: Hyperbole

 

This book has short phrases about different things “some kids” like to do. It has really cute pictures of cartoony animal kids on photographs of real-life backgrounds.

HEALTH: Includes children with disabilities (wheelchair, Braille reading)

 

This story follows a boy, his dog, and some chickens over the course of a year of life on a farm. It talks about the changes happening in nature and how the animals and the boy grow.

SCIENCE: Seasonal changes, animal growth

SOCIAL STUDIES: Farm life

 

This board book has adorable pictures of a little boy and his teddy bear. It talks about loving all aspects, good and bad, of a child.

HEALTH: Emotions

 

In this book, a very self-confident pig girl tells about all of the things she likes about herself and can do for herself.

HEALTH: Self-confidence, hygiene, nutrition

 

In this book, a little girl compares how she looks and what she likes to the looks and likes of her parents.

SOCIAL STUDIES: Multi-cultural families, museums

 

This book follows a little boy throughout a whole day and tells all of the things he can do himself.

HEALTH: Getting dressed, hygiene

 

In this book, a 4-year-old tells about how life was when she was younger and how it is now.

SOCIAL STUDIES: Family life

PreK – K: Snakes

This theme is all about snakes. The list contains both fiction and non-fiction books. We read these books before attending a presentation on snakes from our local nature center.
Please click here to see how I select books for my lists.
  • Snakes: Slither and Hiss by Fiona Lock
    This is a DK Readers Pre-Level 1 book with photographs of real snakes in various environments. Each page has a fact of about a different kind of snake.
    SCIENCE: Facts about snakes with real photos
  • My Snake Blake by Randy Siegel
    This book is about a boy and his snake. The snake can twist his body into cursive words. The snake helps the boy with some things and the boy helps the snake sometimes.
    SOCIAL STUDIES: Family and community life
    LANGUAGE ARTS: Cursive
  • Sylvie & True by David McPhail
    This book has four short chapters about a bunny, Sylvie, and a snake, True, who are roommates. Each chapter is a no more than 10 pages long with 1-5 sentences per page.
    HEALTH: Kitchen safety
    PHYSICAL EDUCATION: Bowling
  • Ben & Becky Get a Pet by Sindy McKay
    This book tells about a brother and sister who want to get a pet and the mayhem they cause in the mall when the pet store snake gets loose. The book is a “We Both Read” book where the left pages are supposed to be read by an older reader and the right pages by a beginning reader, yet, the story flows easily across both types of pages.
    SOCIAL STUDIES: Making decisions together, owning a pet
    LANGUAGE ARTS: Contains some advanced vocabulary
  • It’s a Good Thing There Are Snakes by Lisa M. Herrington
    This book has pictures of real snakes accompanied by a few sentences of facts about snakes. It covers characteristics of snakes, how they eat and grow, and how they are useful to humans.
    SCIENCE: Facts about snakes with real photos
    LANGUAGE ARTS: Snake-related vocabulary
  • A Pet Named Sneaker by Joan Heilbroner
    This book tells about a lonely snake in a pet store and the boy who buys him. The snake goes to school and to the pool with the boy.
    HEALTH: Water safety
    LANGUAGE ARTS: Learning to spell
  • Elmer and Snake by David McKee
    This colorful book tells about a plaid elephant, Elmer, and a snake. The other elephants are trying to trick Elmer, but the snake helps Elmer trick the others.
    SCIENCE: Jungle animals

If you liked this list, please check out my other Book Suggestions for Preschool and Kindergarten Units and subscribe to get updates when I post new lists.

PreK – K: Differences in Families

This theme focuses on diversity within and among families. I have included books that showcase various ethnicities, same-sex parents, and adoption, in addition to a couple of silly books.

Please click here to see how I select books for my lists.
  • The Family Book by Todd Parr
    This very colorful book uses child-like drawings and short phrases to illustrate the similarity and difference between family members and between family groups.
    SOCIAL STUDIES: Illustrates diversity and includes single parents, same-sex parents, adoption, and step-parents/-children.
  • Hubble Bubble, Granny Trouble by Tracey Corderoy
    In this book, a little girl tells about her grandmother who is a witch. The girl tries to get the grandmother to look and act more like other grandmothers, but then realizes that she liked her the way she was.
    SOCIAL STUDIES: Accepting differences in others
  • Ten days and nine nights by Yumi Heo
    This book counts down the days as a Korean-American family prepares to welcome home the baby they are adopting from Korea.
    SOCIAL STUDIES: International travel, older sibling preparing for a new baby
    MATH: Counting down from 10
  • A Tale of Two Mommies by Vanita Oelschlager
    This book is set up as a series of questions that a couple of friends ask a little boy about which of his moms does what. The illustrations are drawn from the kids’ perspective, so you only see the hands and legs of the adults helping the boy.
    SOCIAL STUDIES: Same-sex parents, multi-cultural (the moms and the one friend appear white, the son appears to be African-American, and the one friend appears Asian)
  • Black is brown is tan by Arnold Adoff
    This book shows the everyday life of a family with a white dad and an African-American mom and their biracial children. It is written in a poetic style with all lower-case letters and no punctuation.
    SOCIAL STUDIES: Racially diverse families
  • Who’s In My Family by Robie H. Harris
    This book follows a family through a whole day from the time they get up in the morning to go to the zoo until they go to bed. It discusses many aspects of family life in which families are similar and different, including where they live, what they eat, and who is part of a family. The illustrations include families from various cultures.
    SOCIAL STUDIES: Diverse cultures, diverse family structures, diverse foods, community
  • All Kinds of Families! by Mary Ann Hoberman
    A fun rhyming book about human families, animal families, and families made out of groups of things found in nature, on shelves, and in the refrigerator.
    SOCIAL STUDIES: Family relationships and family history
    MATH: Grouping and sorting items
    SCIENCE: Things found in nature
If you liked this list, please check out my other Book Suggestions for Preschool and Kindergarten Units and subscribe to get updates when I post new lists.

Book Suggestions for Preschool and Kindergarten Units

I am creating lists of books for preschool themes that I am doing with my own child at home. For each theme, I searched out books on that topic at my local library. My list includes the books that I found to be appropriate for my child. I have personally read each of these books to my child. I have attempted to include books that are culturally diverse and that cover a range of subjects within each theme. Most themes will not contain books of a religious nature, unless the theme highlights the diversity of holidays in a season.

My review includes a brief summary of the book. Following that, I include the subjects (such as math or social studies) covered by the book. I have included an affiliate link to the Amazon page of the book, so that you can quickly read more about it, if it interests you. If you make a purchase through one of the links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase products using these links.

Sometimes, my lists will follow a common idea for a while. Occasionally, I will make a random list unrelated to the others because we had a reason to learn about a certain topic. The list of themes below will be expanded and grouped into units as I create new lists of books:

PreK – K: Helping each other in a family

This theme focuses on how family members work together on a variety of tasks. Some of the books expand this idea to include community members, in addition to the family.

Please click here to see how I select books for my lists.
  • Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell
    This book uses short phrases to tell how a mom and her five children shop for groceries, followed by how they, together with the dad, prepare a meal at home for the whole extended family.
    MATH: Counting from 1 to 10 is used twice during the telling of the story.
    SOCIAL STUDIES: Family life, African-American, grocery store
  • D.W.’s Lost Blankie by Marc Brown
    This book is based on the PBS series Arthur. It tells about a little girl who has lost her favorite blanket and how her father and brother try to help her find it.
    SOCIAL STUDIES: Some discussion of community areas, like playground, library, and car wash. The family seems to include a working mom.
    HEALTH: Going to sleep.
  • Just shopping with mom by Mercer Mayer
    This “Little Critter” book tells about the mayhem the little sister causes during a grocery shopping trip. The big brother and the mother try to manage to get her through the trip.
    SOCIAL STUDIES: Shows unacceptable behavior in stores, though the moral is a bit diluted by the fact that they all get a treat at the end.
  • I lost my bear by Jules Feiffer
    This book is partially in the style of a graphic novel and the pictures are funny. It tells about a girl who has lost her teddy bear and how she tries to find it by implementing her family member’s (not so helpful) suggestions.
    SOCIAL STUDIES: Family relationships
    HEALTH: Feelings
  • Martha doesn’t share! by Samantha Berger
    This book tells about a little girl who keeps everything for herself. When her parents and brother do not want to play with her because of her selfishness, she realizes that it would be better to share.
    HEALTH: Selfishness and sharing
  • Day by day by Susan Gal
    Short phrases tell the story of a family of pigs who move to a new home and their interactions with their new community.
    SCIENCE: Planting crops and harvest
    SOCIAL STUDIES: Neighbors and community events
  • What a Good Big Brother! by Diane Wright Landolf
    In this book, a young boy learns why his baby sister cries and he helps to soothe her.
    SCIENCE/HEALTH: Taking care of a baby, including references and illustration of  a baby breastfeeding.
  • A chair for my mother by Vera B. Williams
    This story tells about a girl, her mom, and her grandmother who save up change to buy an armchair. It may be a bit scary for children because the girl talks about their house burning down and having to start over in a new apartment. However, she also explains how her extended family and neighbors helped them.
    SOCIAL STUDIES: Jobs, saving money, working mom, community helping, banks
    MATH: Saving money, counting coins, exchanging coins for paper money
  • The Littlest Dinosaur by Michael Foreman
    This book is a very tiny dinosaur who has trouble keeping up with his bigger relatives. However, one day, he saves them all because he is so small and is able to get help.
    SOCIAL STUDIES: Family life
    MATH: Size comparison

If you liked this list, please check out my other Book Suggestions for Preschool and Kindergarten Units and subscribe to get updates when I post new lists.

Dissecting Homeschool Law: Age for compulsory schooling

Note: This is part of a series I am writing about the actual application of the stipulations in the homeschooling regulations in the state of Maryland.

During a recent conversation, another homeschooling mom expressed concern about the increasing compulsory school attendance age. So, I perused the laws to put myself at ease. I don’t envision the upper limit being a problem for me because my child turns 18 during the summer after his senior year, although the lower limit could affect my daughter.

In July 2017, the compulsory age of attending school is increasing to 18. Last July, it was increased from 16 to 17. The school district has sent notices to homeschooling parents about this law changing multiple times over the last 2 years. The age requirement is not actually included in the homeschooling regulation linked above.  It is contained in the larger body of laws governing all education in the state, which can be found here. The law states that:

“except as otherwise provided in this section, each child who resides in this State and is 5 years old or older and under 18 shall attend a public school regularly during the entire school year.” The exceptions include “a child under the age of 18 years who:

(1) has obtained a Maryland high school diploma, an equivalent out–of–state high school diploma, or a GED;

(2) is a student with disabilities and has completed the requirements for a Maryland high school certificate of completion;

(3) is receiving regular, thorough instruction during the school year in the studies usually taught in the public schools to children of the same age;

(4) has completed an instruction program under item (3) of this subsection.”

Exceptions (3) and (4) together cover homeschooling. The wording in (3) is the exact same wording used in Maryland’s law for homeschooling. In my interpretation, there should not be any problem declaring that 17-year-old senior with a late birthday has completed his homeschool program. I can see how there may be issues if a parent tries to graduate a child earlier than that if the child has not completed a documented 13 years of K-12.

Another gray area I perceive in the law is the beginning of schooling at age 5. The school districts will only enroll children in kindergarten who turn 5 by September 1 (there is wiggle room to October 15, if the parent takes the child for gifted testing). So, any child born after that cut-off date has to wait until the next year to start school. However, the way the law way is written, it seems like on your child’s 5th birthday, bam, she needs to start school. There is an exception clause in the law that states “a child who resides in this State and is 5 years old may be exempted from mandatory school attendance for 1 year if the child’s parent or guardian files a written request with the local school system asking that the child’s attendance be delayed due to the child’s level of maturity.”  Is every parent with a child born after September 1 really filing this request?  More likely, the “shall attend a public school regularly during the entire school year” means that there is a grace period that covers the time from September 2 to the end of that school year.

If you are interested in my other thoughts on Maryland homeschool law, please check out: