For the Love of Reading!

“The love of learning,
The sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.”

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

January is my favorite time of year to curl up in my coziest reading chair by the warm fire and indulge in a good book. I have especially fond memories of reading storybooks to my children while the snow fell softly outside the window. Perhaps this scenario is familiar to you and your family.

When I hear the exciting news that a child has first learned how to read, it brings a great joy to my heart. This child has now entered into a new realm of learning and a new way of discovering the world. Learning to read is like receiving a gift of a lifetime!

There are so many amazing classics for children, including many Newbery and Caldecott Award winner and honor books. I recently asked some of my local homeschool students to share the names of their favorite books. It was both entertaining and educational for the other children to hear which book titles were chosen. Many were familiar favorites, while the new titles sparked interest in a desire to read these unfamiliar books. It was also quite delightful to listen to each child’s oral summary of their favorite book. We also discussed how our “favorite” books often change because there are so many unknown books that are just as fantastic as the ones that have already been read!

In Oak Meadow’s meta-blog, In the Meadow, Liz Gardner shared three articles on reading. You should check them out! The third entry, “For the Love of Libraries“, is especially insightful and resourceful at this time of year.

gu2045In Oak Meadow’s fourth grade syllabus, a suggested activity for Natalie Babbitt’s book, The Search for Delicious, offers doing a poll for the most delicious foods. I think it would be inspiring to poll your children regarding their favorite books. Then we can create a list of your children’s favorite books right here on the blog. My all-time favorite children’s book is Gwinna, by Barbara Berger. If you haven’t read it to your children, I highly recommend it!


“We make realities out of our dreams and dreams out of our realities. We are the dreamers of the dream.” ~ Roald Dahl ~ (September 1916 – November 1990)

I’ve had fun lately reading some books that I haven’t read in a long time and this great book by Roald Dahl was one of them!

It was such fun to read and I loved the tension of wondering if Charlie would get a Golden Ticket. I really wanted him to find one!

Reflections on Educational Nourishment

“I’ve come to believe that each of us has a unique calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint – and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service.”   ~ Oprah Winfrey

The new year provides us with an opportunity to reflect upon “personal visions.” For many, it is a time to turn our thoughts to New Year’s resolutions!

I reflect and think about the coming months, knowing I can shape and reshape my everyday life, which in turn, creates my future. I view encouragement as a big role in helping to unfold the true self. It is a time for us as teachers, parents, and children to take a moment to look back at where the past year has taken us, and to look forward and consider what we wish to keep or change.

When I home schooled my children, I took advantage of this more introspective time of year. I thought about my children’s education, and how it was progressing. Regarding practical matters, I would do a check-in with the time frame of our enrollment schedule. How many lessons have been completed up to now, and how much time is left in the school year? Are we staying on track? I would also determine what areas might need more review before the objectives could be accomplished.

Most importantly, I would take the time to assess my children’s well being. I would determine what changes and modifications might need to be made in the curriculum that would provide more educational nourishment. Without this sustenance, the joy of learning can diminish. Children develop their own unique abilities, and it is invaluable that we support their individuality. Providing the essential guidance to tap into their own creative selves aids in their ability to fully experience the quality of life.



Even for parents and home teachers, it is essential to find and express our creative sides where we can share our gifts with the world. In the final social studies lesson in the second grade curriculum, the theme revolves around “Many People, One World.” We are all so varied and diverse in this world in which we live. How do you express the creativity that nourishes you, and helps make the world a better place for all? Perhaps you paint, write poetry, compose or play music. Or possibly you help with community services or visit an elderly neighbor once a week. My list is BIG. My nourishment comes from spending quality time with my family, taking my canine pals for daily walks in the woods, and creatively working with children and their families in an educational setting. Helping friends and neighbors, along with providing services in the community are high on the priority list, too.

Old Sturbridge Village Home School Day!



OMV insigniaOld Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, is the largest outdoor living-history museum in the Northeast. For those of you who live close enough to visit this unique 200-acre nonprofit educational institution, you might be interested in registering for one of their three upcoming Home School Day events (held on Fridays: February 7th, March 28th and May 6th).



Visiting Old Sturbridge Village is a wonderful family adventure that demonstrates everyday life between the years of 1790 and 1840. It could be a perfect addition to your children’s exploration of history! If you are unable to attend any of the scheduled Home School Day events, be sure to view the Events Calendar that provides many other options. Old Sturbridge Village is currently offering “Kids Free on Winter Weekends”. You might wish to visit on a snowy winter day to join in a horse-drawn sleigh ride! Let us know if you plan to attend any of the Old Sturbridge Village events. It would be delightful for you to connect with other Oak Meadow families!





Books on Screen

Jacket.aspxIt seems that all my favorite books are being made into movies. I HAVE to read the book first because I love reading books! I like to imagine each of the characters in my own mind first, and then see what the director came up with in the movie. I’m currently reading Trash by Andy Mulligan. It won lots of awards like the YALSA Awards for Young Adults (2011), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2011), Publishers Weekly’s Best Children’s Books of the Year for Fiction (2010), and the Gouden Lijst (2012)

Trash by Andy MulliganIt is a very exciting read! Boys living in a third world country have to pick through huge piles of trash in order to make a living, and come upon a special package in the trash. What happens after they find it is told from the different characters’ points of view. I’m loving the excitement, tension, and mystery of the plot! The book is in the process of being made into a movie that is coming out in 2014. I’m so happy that I’m reading the book and am able to imagine and live with the characters in my own mind before seeing them on the big screen.

TeenReads has a good list of the books made into movies in November of 2013. November 2013 | Teenreads


Brain Food: Riddles

(Answer below)

I think riddles can be a lot of fun! They are challenging and often they are a tricky play on words. When we have big family meals on holidays, we often have some riddle fun. Everyone, young and old, brings a riddle to the table.

Brain Food: Riddles is a great source for riddles that you may like to use at your dinner table.

(Answer: A rug!)

Winter Books

Winters in New England in the United States can be freezing cold and very snowy. I live in New Hampshire and winter has to be my all time favorite season! One thing I love to do, besides being on the slopes or in the woods, is sit by our woodstove and read. It’s especially fun to read books with a winter theme! Remember The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder? Did you know that it was written about a true winter storm that raced across the United States so quickly that people had no warning that it was coming and that it would be such a huge storm? Here are some winter titles you may enjoy reading even if you don’t get snow where you live!

 Beardance by Will Hobbs (A sequel to Bearstone)

Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan

Winter Room by Gary Paulsen

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George


Happy New Year!

Welcome to The Middle of the Meadow, our new Oak Meadow blog!

My name is Lesley Arnold and I’ve been a teacher with Oak Meadow for about 5 years. lesley arnoldBefore that I was a public school teacher and a Waldorf school teacher. It has been a lifetime of teaching! I love to guide and help students in all their creative passions. I look forward to communicating more with all of you.

I have so much to say I can’t possibly say it all in my first blog entry! I’m happy and excited to know that we can connect this way with each other. We can share ideas, activities, and projects. It’s a great opportunity for all of us to see what others are doing and share ideas and comments. For a long time my Oak Meadow students have wondered if they could have a place to chat and communicate with other Oak Meadow students. Now here it is! You can make comments to the posts and respond to others, too. Is there anything in particular that you are interested in? I’m always looking for ideas for posts so please feel free to make suggestions. LJ98_002_0029_12WC

All of my posts will end with “Let us know:and that will be your opening to make comments that gets us all started!

Here are a few things to remember as we begin:

Good comments:

  • Follow the writing process. Comments are a published piece of writing.
  • Are constructive, but never hurtful.
  • Consider the author and the purpose of the post
  • Are always related to the content of the post
  • Include personal connections to what the author wrote
  • Answer a question, or add meaningful information to the content topic