Homeschool Happenings – New Zealand

Last week was New Zealand week and we read some fantastic picture books. So many I just had to share. I love to use picture books as a teaching tool, even as I teach my middle schooler. They garner interest for further learning and can be used as a part of the lesson themselves.

Circle by Jeannie Baker. 48 pages.

I am in love with the illustrations in this nonfiction book about the godwits migration from New Zealand (and Australia) to the Arctic and then back again. Great for learning about migration in general.

Inky’s Amazing Escape: How a Very Smart Octopus Found His Way Home by Sy Montgomery and Amy Shimler-Safford. 32 pages

Such a fun and colorful story about a real octopus who was rescued and then freed himself. The story was fantastic as were the end notes. Your kid will learn so much about octopus and will most likely want to know more. This was my favorite book of the week.

Elizabeth, the Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox and Brian Floca. 48 pages.

Elizabeth was an elephant seal who made her home in the Avon River in Christchurch. She became a problem when she started sleeping in the middle of the road in the afternoon. Three times they captured her and took her far away to live, but each time she came back. The solution they found will make you smile. I loved the picture of the real Elizabeth in the middle of the road at the end of the book.

**For school, Gage had to write a paragraph comparing the two animals and their journeys.

First to the Top: Sir Edmund Hillary’s Amazing Everest Adventure by David Hill and Phoebe Morris. 32 pages.

Why is a book about Mount Everest on this list? Because that’s where Hillary was from! This was full of information, even with a timeline of his life at the end. Don’t let the page count fool you. Excellent resource.

Two at the Top: A Shared Dream of Everest by Uma Krishnaswami and Christopher Corr. 32 pages.

I didn’t love the illustrations, but did love the concept. Sir Edmund Hillary didn’t get to the top of Everest alone and yet he always gets the credit. This book tells the story of Hillary but also the story of his sherpa Tenzig Norgay on each opposing page. By telling their stories side by side, it is giving Norgay the due he deserves.

**For school, Gage made a Venn diagram comparing the information featured in each book.

Anywhere Artist by Nikki Slade Robinson. 40 pages.

This is not a book about New Zealand, but one created by New Zealander. This is most definitely geared toward a younger audience and it was Gage’s favorite. It’s all about making art wherever you are using what nature has provided. The only fictional book (except for Ranger which is only half fiction)

**For school, Gage and I set the timer for 20 minutes and each created art from whatever we found in our yard. His was super cool with big branches sticking out of theground to look like trees and stones making a circle around it. I’m not embarrassed to say it was way better than mine!

Race to the South Pole (Ranger in Tme Series) by Kate Messner. 160 pages.

This was our longer read and I love this series! The journey starts in New Zealand aboard the Terra Nova and, while obviously fiction since it’s based on a time travelling dog, only Ranger and the boy he was there to save were fictional characters. All the other characters were based on real life people and a real life race to the Pole. The end notes were the best part even though they were sad.

**We read this aloud as a family, each taking a chapter each night.