Best Books For Fourth Grade

In the past I have detailed reading lists for the Early Years and then each grade, grades one through four.  Here is the list for grade four here:

Some of my favorite books from this year never made it onto that preliminary list, so I thought I would share here.  One of these is the book “Rascal” by Sterling North.  This book was a favorite for the year.  You can see the review Sheila over at “sure as the world” gives it here:  You could work this book into one of your Man and Animal blocks, but also into a U.S. Geography block.  There is also the book, “Pagoo”, about a hermit crab, from Holling C. Holling, that I think should be on your list as well.

Speaking of Holling C. Holling brings me to something else.  Continue reading

“A Donsy Of Gnomes: 7 Gentle Gnome Stories”

This  182-paged book is one of my favorites for five and six  year olds for “school” but also for bedtime reading for almost any age.  My seven and a half year old and I just got done going through these stories at bedtime again, and they are so lovable.  The stories are seasonal and so sweet, and include imaginative ways to present the stories and how to re-tell the stories.

The stories include the gnomes of Limindoor Woods and the two human children who live nearby.  The seven stories are:   Pebble (whose father teaches him the family trade of being a crystal gardener); Brother Acorn (who keeps the world forested) (this story has a lot of repetition and is shorter so may be of delight to even younger children); Tommy Tomten (a winter tale about giving); Teasel and Tweed (this is a longer story and has a rescue element – not scary, but may be better for children a bit older); Gilly ( a springtime tale); Bracken (an adventuresome gnome); Mossy (a Midsummer story that references all the other stories and characters in the book).

The stories have some simple, beautiful ink drawings to accompany them that are lovely and could be a springboard toward your own creation of wet on wet painting moving pictures (where the characters you paint move through the scene).

There are also many “extras” in this book:  Continue reading

Are You Drowning In Stuff? A Challenge!

This article is a fascinating look at Americans and their things:   This article is an anthropologist’s look at “stuff”.  In particular was mentioned the accumulation of things that comes with adding more children.  One thing that was amazing to me was one particular child’s room contained 248 dolls!

I actually don’t know anyone in real life that has “stuff” to this amount of excess, to be honest, although I am sure it exists.  It is a sad commentary on American society if this is a normal state of affairs for much of the population. As we become more overweight, more depressed, more anxious – here we are, taking our homes that we are so fortunate to have in comparison to the rest of the world and stuffing them to the brim!

I love the summertime for doing major, deep, significant de-cluttering.  So, I have a challenge for you this week:  set aside a two-week period this summer, and every morning, work on getting rid of your stuff.  No, don’t just organize it! Get rid of it! Continue reading


My house is officially on the market.  It is bittersweet to me.  We have lived in this home for fourteen years, and I adore my neighbors.  I know them so very well.  I know every nook and cranny of the once farmland that is now our little subdivision:  the tadpoles in the creek by my neighbor’s house (and how she so kindly lets us tramp through her yard to get to the creek!), the long Deep South days at the pool, the way we can see the Fourth of July fireworks from the pool, the hill we can sled on in the winter in the few years we actually do receive snow.  A true sense of place, which seems to be rare in this day and age. Continue reading

Gathering Love

I was thinking specifically about new parents, and parents of children in the age of birth through seven when I wrote my post “Gathering Grace” recently.

One thing I think about with the children aged seven through fourteen, who really are in the heart of childhood, is that they should be gathering love. Continue reading

Very Simple Homeschool Planning

I have shared with you in past posts some of the little forms I created for homeschool planning.  I am talking to more and more mothers lately who are becoming affected with what I call “a case of the curriculum crazies.”

Please remember to keep things simple.


Know your focus.  Know your child, and your top goals for that child and for your family.  What is the ultimate goal you have in mind for the education of your children?  Structure things around that.  You cannot do it all, and nor should you try.

Play a Very Simple Day.  I shared mine already:  gathering the children in song and movement, a main lesson with lots of movement and art, a tea break with read-alouds, another main lesson with lots of movement and art, lunch, a half hour after lunch for one child only per day four days a week for any “extra” work, and three days a week handwork, crafts or religion.  Add in outside time and chores and that is plenty!  We plan four days a week; you may need even less!

Plan in field trips, seasonal activities and FUN. We homeschool to have a joyous family life.  Please don’t forget that!  Homeschooling is first and foremost about having joy as a family.

Many blessings,



“Solve Your Solvable Problems”: The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work


If a couple wants to solve a solvable problem, then the most popular conflict resolution method is to “put yourself in your partner’s shoes while listening intently to what he or she says, and then to communicate empathetically that you see the dilemma from his or her perspective.  It’s not a bad method – if you can do it.”


But many folks can’t do it.  By studying the happily married couples in his lab, Dr. Gottman came  up a five-step process for conflict resolution. 


Step One:  “Soften Your Startup” – Approach a subject you want to solve with humor; avoid criticism, contempt, defensiveness, stonewalling.  Be gentle with each other.  “Discussions invariably end on the same note they begin,” says Dr. Gottman.  So, if things start off defensive and nasty, the conflict is unlikely to end any better.


A harsh startup is more likely to happen if you let things store up; bring up issues as they happen.  Be clear, concise, polite, appreciative.  There are many exercises in this section to help you learn how to make a gentle startup. 


Step Two: “Learn To Make and Receive Repair Attempts”  –  This section talks about how to make repair attempts if the discussion gets off track and becomes harsh and defensive.  There is also a large section on phrases that will help soothe yourself and your spouse under the headings of “I Feel,”  “I Need To Calm Down,” “Sorry,” “Getting To Yes,” “Stop Action!” and “I Appreciate”. 


Step Three:  “Soothe Yourself and Each Other” –  Less stable marriages have a hard time with conflict discussions because inevitably one partner or the other becomes emotionally flooded.  If you are flooded, you cannot hear your partner and what they are saying.  If you become flooded during a conflict discussion, then you may need to stop and take a break.  Calming yourself down for twenty minutes or so before continuing the discussion can be invaluable.  After that, it is good to calm each other down.  Dr. Gottman notes that this is important: “Soothing your partner is of enormous benefit to a marriage because it  it really a form of reverse conditioning.  In other words, if you frequently have the experience of being calmed by your spouse, you will stop seeing your partner as a trigger of stress in your life and instead associate him or her without feeling relaxed.”


Step Four:  “Compromise” –  there are several exercises to work on this most important step.


Step Five:  “Be Tolerant Of Each Other’s Faults” – Don’t focus on the “if onlies” but on the acceptance of flaws and finding common ground.


Many blessings,