The Sacred Sprouts Schoolhouse

Archive for May, 2009

The Indian In The Cupboard

by Lynne Reid Banks

The very first time I heard of this book, it was brand new, and I was in fifth grade.  My teacher chose to read it to our class, and along with the book, we did a very fabulous study of the Iroquois Indians.  The book was fabulous, and sometime that year, a sequel came out, and I gobbled that up too, although I ended up disappointed with that one.  But I do remember that teacher for being one of the ones who taught outside of the box, and as I read this book to my children, I totally saw why she taught the way she did.   We were the only fifth grade class to devote so much time to the Iroquois, but I’ll tell you, we were insatiable.

As are my children.  We have just four chapters to go in our beloved book, and we are enjoying every moment of it.   Along the way though, both kids have asked lots of questions about the Indians, so I went ahead and sought out a few materials to show them some of what the book was talking about.  Our first purchases were an Indian Tribes of North America coloring book, which showed pictures of the longhouses and tee-pees that we were reading so much about.  We also picked up a paper doll book, as I thought that would be something Abigail could quietly do as we read.   I will admit that I was disappointed to not find any cowboys or Indians while out and about, although I wasn’t surprised by the lack of them either.  Thank goodness for Amazon dot com, where I was able to find and order a Cowboy and Indian set that Zander has fallen in love with.


And then, on a random trip to the bookstore, we had to look and see if there were any books about Indians, and completely scored on If You Lived With The Iroquois.  This book gets quite detailed as far as the Iroquois Nations goes, but not so detailed as to be over the heads of the kids.  It’s been a very interesting book to go through.

Each night we read, (which isn’t every night, due to activities that keep us out late,) we gather on the big bed with our pile of Indian treasures, and the box of legos, and read together.  We laugh and talk about what’s coming up next, and we just overall really enjoy our time reading together.   The book itself is just as wonderful as I remembered.  I have had to change a few words, because as it turns out, our Cowboy, Boone’s, language needs a bit of cleaning up, but it’s not horribly offensive.  Just a word here and there (h*ll) that I prefer to edit out as I read.  The story is enchanting though, the tale of a small plastic Indian toy, come to life in a magical cupboard is enough to get any child’s imagination going.  Both my kids frequently talk about how wonderful it would be to have a cupboard like Omri’s, and anytime we something with an Indian on it, they both get excited and point out how it goes with out book.

I think we’ll be sad to see this book come to an end.  And while there are two sequels, I think we won’t be reading them.  As I recall, neither of them had the charm of the first one, and I also would like to move on to something completely different.  We’ll have to get used to reading a whole lot of different types of books, so I don’t want to get into a rut right away.  I will, however, point out to Abigail that there are sequels, and if she would like to read them herself, she certainly may.

Our first foray into reading a chapter book together has been a rousing success.  While we’ve always done very well with picture books, it’s something else completely to get a child to sit and pay attention to something without all the pictures.  So far, I’m impressed with both kids and their abilities to stay on task.  We’re looking forward to the next one.

posted by Erika in Read-Alouds and have Comments Off on The Indian In The Cupboard

Success Is The Biggest Confidence Booster!

I think Zander is really starting to enjoy our school time together.  On Sunday, he came up to me and reminded me that we didn’t do any school on Saturday or Sunday.  I just smiled at him and told him that it’s okay to take a break from school over the weekends.  He seemed to accept this, but then I caught him glancing at the bookshelves that hold his workbooks.

I have found that when I sit down to do a workbook with him, having something as simple as markers  makes all the difference.  He doesn’t like coloring, and writing with a pencil is boring he says, so with the books we’ve been working on (except for letter writing), I’ve been letting him use markers, and we  make it fun.  He’ll fill a page with shapes in many colors, or test the different green markers to find the best one.  And all the sudden, he doesn’t mind so much the cut and paste sections either, and yesterday was very pleased to show me that he could cut out circles, squares and triangles.  I love it!

We did have trouble with our S writing the other day.  He was making them more like fives, and they just were all over the place, and he was losing heart.  I quickly looked through the different workbooks we had, looking for any pages where the kids had to trace an S, and found nothing.  So instead, I grabbed the pack of blank writing paper, and proceeded to draw some S’s with a highlighter.  Zander was intrigued instantly!  We watched me draw a row of big S’s and then a row of small S’s, and then I handed the sheet to him with a pencil, and told him to trace my S’s.  It was an instant hit!  He traced all my letters, and then went back to his workbook and confidently made a few freehand S’s on the page.   They’re still not completely accurate, but they’re close, and I just love how something as simple as using markers or a yellow highlighter can make all the difference!


Something I’ve been concerned about with Zander and the coming Sonlight year is the read-alouds we’ll be doing.  The one time we sat down to do a read-aloud together, we chose a Geronimo Stilton book. Now, these are very fun books for young readers.  Abigail has enjoyed them immensely, and I really credit Geronimo Stilton for the confidence she has in reading longer chapter books.  But was it a good read-aloud?  Not so much.  In fact, it was kind of boring, and about halfway through the book, it made its way back to the shelf and stayed there.

So yesterday we went to the library, and I determined that I was going to find the perfect book to read aloud to both kids at bedtime.  I figure there’s no time like the present to get used to read-aloud time, so I spent a long time going over the junior chapter books.   The first book that I picked up and added to my pile was Stuart Little.  I love that book, and we all love the movie, but as I went along, I wondered if using a book where we know the movie well, and it is not the same, was a good idea.  So I kept looking, and kept looking, and then I found it.  The Indian In The Cupboard, by Lynne Reid Banks.  This was difficult enough as a reader that Abigail would not have read it yet, and thus be bored.  The main character is a boy, which would appeal to Zander, and what child would not be enchanted by the idea of a toy coming to life.

So after dinner, I told the kids that we were going to get jammies on and do something we’d never done before.  They both got excited and demanded to know what it was.  And when I told them I was going to read a chapter book to both of them, Zander burst into tears, telling me that wasn’t exciting.  Erhm…

So we proceeded with the jammies, and then I asked Zander if he would like to grab some crayons to color quietly while I read, and he started crying again, reminding me that he doesn’t like coloring.  So then I suggested he grab the box of legos, which also received criticism, because he doesn’t much care for legos either.  Abigail talked him into trying the legos, and as we dumped the whole box on my bed, she asked if she could build somethings that went with the story, and it just got better from there.

The kids quietly built with legos while I began the enchanting tale of the toy Indian coming to life.  In fact, when I read the line “He was alive” aloud, Zander gasped and looked at me with a big smile on his face.  More than once, the kids giggled at the story, and they both tried their hands at building lego Indians.  When we finished the first chapter, they both begged me to read another, so we did.   And as soon as they were done, they asked if we could hurry up at dance class tonight so that we could read another chapter.  I think I wasn’t prepared for this much success right away!

As I tucked Zander in, I asked him if he enjoyed the book so far, and he smiled and said he did.  And then he asked me if when we were done with this book, if I could pick another book that was so good as well.  Stuart Little will get his shot after all.

And last night, as I turned out the lights, I had my first real confident thought that I could, indeed, do this homeschool stuff.  And even better, I am confident that the literature based Sonlight was going to be a perfect fit for our family.

posted by Erika in Uncategorized and have Comments (2)