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Introducing the Classics: Our ultimate booklist for 3-6 year olds

If you haven't read at least one of these classics with your young ones, it's time to make it happen! 

Girl looking at books spread on floor

By Jessica Pilton | jessicapilton.com

What better way to explore a new world than with your child snuggled close on your lap while you enjoy a story together? I couldn't think of one.

In our home, we adore books, silly books, funny books, classic books, serious books, dramatic books, historic books... All kinds of books. I've compiled a list of books my children have enjoyed and still do enjoy that would be perfect for any 3-6 year old.

This list is in no way exhaustive but will start you off in the right direction for deep wonderful literature with your young ones, which will leave them with delight and wonder about their natural world and beyond.

Winnie the Pooh by A.A Milne

Winnie the Pooh and A House at Pooh Corner are much-loved classics and Pooh is known by most children as that 'Bear with little brain.' Forget Walt Disney's Pooh Bear and go straight for the real thing. Not only will your child love the stories in the long chapters (read over a couple of days for this age group) but you will love them too.

Stack of children's books

Hairy Maclary by Lynley Dodd

Hairy Maclary is the lovable scruffy dog most Australian children grow up with. Verses and rhymes litter the books and your kiddos will love hearing about all his woofy friends as well as getting a mock fright from Scarface claw (The cat all the dogs are afraid of!) There are quite a few titles that Dodd has penned from the first, Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy to Hairy Maclary Scattercat, Hairy Maclary's Bone and Hairy Maclary's Rumpus at the Vet.

The Complete Tales by Beatrix Potter

Most well known for The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter has penned many classics for children. What my children love most about these tales is while they are fanciful, they all hold an element of truth. The fox cunning Mrs Puddleduck, Mr MacGregor wanting to put Peter into a pie, The rats wanting to eat Tom Kitten. While it sounds morbid on the get go, children love these tales with slight suspense and connect with the element of realism that Ms Potter brings to her stories.

Mother Goose

Mother Goose sits on most nursery shelves and never really sees the light of day after the toddler years go by, yet these are perfect little rhymes to help children connect words with meaning as they grow. Collections like this aren't just for the very young. Your 3 to 6-year-old will enjoy them maybe even more.

Wish Soup

Wish Soup is a magical and enchanting book with Australian seasonal themes - something that was lacking in our literature as most seasonal tales are created in the northern hemisphere. There are 12 tales within the book as you follow the characters through enchanted forests, rambling gardens and magical kingdoms, as they overcome challenges and experience the bond between the natural world and the human heart. Set amongst the unique beauty of Australia's flora and fauna.

Children of the Forest By Elsa Beskow

Children of the Forest is a delightful picture-book fantasy was first published in Sweden in 1910. It is a celebration of the natural world, and of the seasons of the year, as seen by a family of tiny woodland sprites. Mother, Father, and four children - Tom, Harriet, Sam and Daisy - all live together in a snug little house "under the curling roots of an old pine tree." The four siblings have many adventures in their forest home, playing with their animal friends, attending the school taught by Mrs. Owl, and working together with their parents, to gather the food they need for the long winter.

Jesus storybook Bible

The Jesus Storybook Bible tells the Story beneath all the stories in the Bible. At the centre of the Story is a baby, the child upon whom everything will depend. Every story whispers his name. From Noah to Moses to the great King David - every story points to him. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle - the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together. From the Old Testament through the New Testament, as the Story unfolds, children will pick up the clues and piece together the puzzle.

This post was originally featured on jessicapilton.com and has been republished here with permission.

* For your convenience, we've linked to books in this post and some include Jess' affiliate links. If you found it valuable and want to buy one of the books recommended, consider supporting Jess by purchasing using her Book Depository link.

What are your favourite classic picture books for young children? Share in the comments below.

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Jessica Pilton

Contributor

Jess is a wife and homeschooling mother to three. She blogs about her life homesteading on a nine-acre property in Perth, Australia, with a focus on grace-based parenting and home education. You can find Jess' writing at jessicapilton.com and on Instagram and Facebook.

Teaching math to kids: when to introduce technical language

When teaching math to kids, we often over-simplify and use baby language. But should we be introducing technical mathematical concepts earlier? 

Teaching math to kids: Children playing with blocks on the floor

By Becky McIntosh | homemademath.net

Today on Instagram I mentioned that I was gently introducing the language of ”survey” to my (not yet) 5-year-old daughter. I felt hesitant about including it in my comment, which got me thinking, why?

We hesitate to use technical vocabulary

Why am I nervous about saying I’m teaching mathematical vocabulary to a young child?

It’s totally the people pleaser in me coming out. Would someone think I was pushing her too hard? Or my math agenda too much? Would people think I’m just all about academics? Or would they roll their eyes and say, “As if a 4 year old will get that!”

So why is it that we confine math vocabulary to the realm of “later” education?

I mean, I’m always teaching my kids new words. Some they pick up understand and use now, other words drift in and out of their consciousness until they are ready to grab it, understand it and use it (my 2-year-old told his sister today “let’s not argue about it, k?” lol where did that come from?).

Why should I be nervous to include mathematical terms as part of their broader vocabulary?

Mathematics has a beautiful precise language (aside from being a language of its own, but more on that another time). It has a language of strength and clarity.

For example, if I’m describing an event and say:

“There were heaps of people there!” or “It was packed, there were at least 100 people there, maybe 150.” Which gives you a clearer picture?

Or “The house was so close to the beach!” compared to “The house was only 100 metres from the beach!”

These examples are really just using numbers to clarify size and distance, and already we can see math as a useful descriptive tool.

My daughter could say:

“Today I asked people their favourite colour.” Or “Today I took a survey of people’s favourite colours”. The second gives you a much clearer understanding of what actually took place.

Compare “We are on the next road along”, to “Our road is parallel and one to the north” and tell me who is going to get lost sooner?

(My family will all laugh, because I have a notoriously poor sense of direction! Maybe we should have used more math vocab at home).

Waiting, but for what?

Why do we wait to learn the words “parallel” and “perpendicular” when they become curriculum requirements? They are so useful to accurately describe our environment.

Plus (no pun intended), if we introduce these words to our vocabulary we make the world of math less intimidating. It becomes a part of our normal understanding of how the world works.

So if a mathematical term will perfectly describe the equilateral sail; if there are enough Easter eggs for 5 per child; if you are going to space your cookies as an array to bake; or if Johnny eating half his sandwich is the equivalent of Suzy eating her two quarters: don’t be shy.

Introduce math words as you would other vocabulary to your child.

Use them yourself and clarify if they ask. Let’s normalise the language of math, and empower our children to accurately describe the world around them.

Note: If you are wondering what I mean by “introducing” the word to her, we simply spoke about what we were going to do: E.g. ask each person which of these is their favourite colour and draw a line to show each person.

Then when we were at playgroup I said “Would you like to ask people your survey now?” as I handed her her recording sheet. She didn’t stop and ask, “What’s a survey?” she knew what she was going to do and I was simply naming it for her. Will she hence forth refer to it as a survey? Probably not, but over time she will. Just like she learnt the word “apple” through repetition and association as a baby.

This post originally appeared on homemademath.net and has been republished here with permission.

How do you teach mathematical concepts to your kids? Do you use technical language? Comment below.

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Becky McIntosh

Contributor

Becky is a middle-school mathematics teacher turned homeschool mum on a mission to convert 'mathophobes' and show parents and children just how beautiful maths can be. She runs homemademath.net, a blog and online store where she sells immersive maths units for homeschoolers and schools. Becky is on Instagram at @homemademath

Tired mama, here are 5 self-care tips you can stop and do RIGHT NOW!

Whether you work full time or part time, in an office or at home, be a stay-at-home mum or homeschool mum, it doesn’t matter - the majority of mothers tell us they don't spend enough time on themselves.

Words and images by Shannon Young, thecarefactor.com.au

Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, has two irreducible core needs. They are: love and belonging according to researcher and mother - Brene Brown.

As mothers, when you have your kids at home with you and you are the centre of their world 24/7, it can take a lot out of you. I understand - I get you. As a mum of three who also coaches mothers to improve their wellbeing, I know how important self-care is to a mother’s ability to be the best version of herself for her loved ones. I also know how tricky it can be to carve out time to go for a walk or to the gym, or curl up with a book or cup of tea or whatever when you have little ones demanding attention. There seems to be no down time - not even in the bathroom!

Whether you work full time or part time, in an office or at home, be a stay-at-home mum or homeschool mum, it doesn’t matter - the majority of mothers report that they do NOT spend enough time on themselves.

However it is important to take care of yourself and when you do - you fill those core needs of love and belonging.

So here are 5 non-standard self-care tips that you can do RIGHT NOW with the kids in the house.

1. Give (and receive) a hug

Give a 3-second hug (3 seconds or breaths at a minimum) to your loved ones instead of a pat on the head. I am a big believer in hugs.

Research shows that a proper deep hug can instantly boost oxytocin levels and serotonin levels which boost your mood and reduce loneliness. This works better for women than men as research shows that women tend to have greater reductions in blood pressure than men after their hugs.

Did you know hugs can actually help you be healthier?

The gentle pressure on the sternum from a hug and the emotional charge this creates also stimulates the thymus gland that regulates the body's production of white blood cells to boost the immune system. So hugs can help you be healthier.

Finally, hugs tell both people involved that they are invested in the relationship. Hugs boost your feeling of being loved.

2. Phone a friend

When you are sitting there with your head in your hands wondering how you can get through another hour or minute, that is the time to pick up the phone (not the email or text) and call someone who cares. We need each other and women especially gain so much from nurturing our female friendships.

Researcher Dr. Ruthellen Josselson says “Women are such a source of strength to each other. We nurture one another. And we need to have unpressured space in which we can do the special kind of talk that women do when they’re with other women. It’s a very healing experience”. I know that the conversations that I have with my female friends are like those I had in boarding school and would make most men’s skin crawl in its honesty and brashness - nothing is really out of bounds.

Phoning a friend boosts your feeling of belonging and reminds you that you are an adult, not just a big kid.

3. Boost your immunity and nourish your body

Add half a lemon to your glass of water you were having anyway. The juice of half a lemon in a glass of water is rich in vitamin C, which boosts the immune system so you fight off colds and flu better.

Also, lemons contain pectin which helps you feel full without feeling bloated so you don’t snack throughout the day which you don't have time for anyway. Show yourself that you care by taking care of your body. It's so important!

4. Stretch … while you get dressed (or pulling up your pants after the bathroom).

Incorporate stretching whenever you can. Reach that extra inch when you put on your clothes. Touch your toes when you put on your shoes. Do a mini back band while you put on your trousers or skirt. Side stretch (half moon pose) when you put on your shirt. It doesn't have to be a full sun salutation to help.

Simple stretches will warm up your muscles and dislodge any fluids in your joints that accumulated when you are sleeping overnight or sitting on the floor, leaving you more energised and standing taller.

This releasing of pent-up emotions in your body through stretching promotes a feeling of self-love and happiness.

5. Colouring WITH the kids

Colouring for adults is trendy for good reason and is a wonderful way to take care of yourself without your kids even realising you are doing something for yourself. This way they won't be knocking on the door whilst you are trying to do your yoga or just have a pee. Colouring with your kids gives you a chance to bond more closely with them.

Colouring in is a fantastic joint activity that promotes love and belonging.
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Colouring for adults is active meditation and that is easier for adults to do because it is still an activity. We don’t think that we are “sitting around doing nothing”.

The three key elements of colouring —repetition, pattern and detail— prompt positive feelings in the brain according to cognitive neuroscientist, Dr Rodski. These positive feelings are because colouring relaxes the amygdala and so lowers your stress levels as you let go of everything else and concentrate. You may find that your breathing slows as well - a great self-care strategy.

So drop and give yourself FIVE.

To take care of yourself so you can be the best version of you for your loved ones. Your children look up to you and will remember more of what you do versus what you say. Teach them self-care by practicing it yourself so they fill their irreducible needs for love and belonging - best lesson ever.

Shannon Young

Wellness Coach

Shannon is a mother-of-three who is passionate about empowering and equipping tired, busy 21st century mums to slow down and practice self-care and mindfulness. Shannon has over two decades experience coaching senior leaders in iconic organisations across industries such as FMCG, IT, Finance and Consulting. You can find out more at thecarefactor.com.au

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Want to travel and worldschool your kids? Here are 5 things you should know

Worldschooling, travelschooling, roadschooling... there are so many ways to take your kids with you and see the world, so here is everything you need to know.

By Grace Koelma | Editor of The Mulberry Journal

* A quick note to readers: This article is based on my experience being 'worldschooled' as a teenager, and the things I found helpful for learning on the road.


The biggest mistake many parents make when choosing to take their family on the road and ‘worldschool’ is thinking that their kids’ education will occur in a similar way to school, or even like more structured styles of home education. But worldschooling is a law unto itself and will be an amazingly educational journey for you and your kids, if you let it.

Relax. Let your children process and digest what they’re seeing, the conversations they’re having and the new experiences they’re immersed in. Trust that the learning is happening beneath the surface. Every so often you’ll be the audience to an outburst and overflowing of this learning, maybe in a wonderful way you weren’t expecting.

Here are a few tips for how to plan your trip to best suit your children’s learning needs.

1. Consider what kind of ‘worldschooling’ you’ll be doing

How you choose to worldschool will depend on whether you are taking your kids out of school for a few months, or are planning on continuing to homeschool them when you return.

  • Putting them back in school afterwards

Some schools and teachers will want students to keep up with what’s being learned in class so that your child doesn’t fall behind. It’s valuable to practice mathematics while you’re away, if you intend on putting your child back into school (and therefore a set curriculum and learning pace). This is because many topics in maths are building blocks for other concepts, and if you miss a key one, learning future maths concepts can be hard. So perhaps take each child’s maths textbook with you. Other subjects like writing, spelling, art, history, science, geography and health/PE can all be learned organically on the road.

  • Homeschooling after you return

If you’re intending to homeschool your kids after you return from travel, then you can go at your own pace, and choose a learning style that suits each child. To be honest, I'm a fan of unschooling for travel, there is so much to be learned simply by being immersed in new cultures and cities (more on that later!)

2. Be open to seasons of learning

Regardless of the level of structure in your worldschooling approach, your kids will naturally form rhythms of more intense and less intense learning, and you will too! It’s okay to let this process happen organically, don't attempt to stifle or accelerate it.

As notable homeschool author, Wendy Priesnitz said, “Life learning is about trusting kids to learn what they need to know and about helping them to learn and grow in their own ways. It is about respecting the everyday experiences that enable children to understand and interact with the world and their culture.”

Worldschooling boils down to this. It’s living in the present, enjoying each new opportunity and experience presented to you, and immersing yourself in culture, history and new cuisines.

3. Embrace daily journalling habits

If you do want to encourage a learning habit, start journalling what you see on your travels, and invite your children to do the same. To get them excited about the process, let each child choose a special book to write in (some kids love leather bound, others want a book with their favourite superhero on the cover). This journal can be as structured or free as they like, and include recounts of events, drawings, photos, maps, keepsakes, postcards and nature finds. The opportunities are endless.

If you do need to provide proof of learning on your travels to a teacher or a school principal, this is a wonderful way to do that, too. When I was fifteen, my family homeschooled and travelled in a caravan around Australia for 11 months. The journals I kept every day while travelling are now one of my most treasured memories of my childhood.

 

4. Be immersed in the joy of discovering new places together

Worldschooling boils down to this… It’s living in the present, enjoying each new opportunity and experience presented to you, and immersing yourself in culture, history and new cuisines. Don’t force your kids to do this, just throw yourself into it and watch as they catch hold of your enthusiasm. You’ll find endless opportunities for learning on the road: a wealth of rich history in museums and art gallery. Explore National parks (on land and in the sea – remember that in many countries, coral reefs are protected heritage area too), stop at roadside stalls and talk to buskers and craftsman selling wares on the street.

The physical act of travel is a wonderful learning opportunity as well. Enlist your children’s help in calculating the cost of fuel to drive to the next location, or how much you’ll be charged for excess baggage on your next flight. Show them your travel budget, and tell them what your spending limit is each day. Get them to help you do grocery shopping and help you cook meals, book accommodation and flights.I believe the best education is steeped in the discussion of ideas. Talk about the customs of the places you visit and why cultural heritage is important. Learn the local language, and how to respect the culture as a visitor.

 

5. Resist trying to make every experience a ‘learning experience’

There are a lot of obvious opportunities for learning while travelling… every town has museums, art galleries, wildlife exhibits and information centres. But your kids will most certainly get information fatigue if they’re towed through one row of glass displays after another. Sometimes, even regularly, it’s okay to drive past the local tourist attraction and head to a local weekend market or go to the beach and sketch the landscape.

And then relax. Let your children process and digest what they’re seeing, the conversations they’re having and the new experiences they’re immersed in. Trust that the learning is happening beneath the surface. Every so often you’ll be the audience to an outburst and overflowing of this learning, maybe in a wonderful way you weren’t expecting.

This quote by John Holt sums it up perfectly: “What makes people smart, curious, alert, observant, competent, confident, resourceful, persistent – in the broadest and best sense, intelligent – is not having access to more and more learning places, resources, and specialists, but being able in their lives to do a wide variety of interesting things that matter, things that challenge their ingenuity, skill, and judgement, and that make an obvious difference in their lives and the lives of people around them.” ~ John Holt, Teach Your Own

Have you got any worldschooling tips? We'd love you to share them in the comments below...

Grace profile image square

Grace Koelma

Editor

Grace is a wife, mum to 2-year-old Leo, and editor of The Mulberry Journal. She believes that home educating starts from 0 not 6 years, but is glad not to have to worry about registration... yet! You can find her sharing snippets of her love of real food, picture books and homeschool on Instagram at @littlesoulfires

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