Financial literacy: Books

Published by Lori Pickert on December 1, 2011 at 02:37 PM

There are three main areas of money management: making it, saving it, and investing it. Frugality is an important branching topic — it can help you save more of what you earn.

J.D. did a great round-up of books about money recently. My favorites that he mentioned are Ramit Seth’s I Will Teach You to Be Rich (a great introduction to finance), Andrew Tobias’s The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need, and Debt Is SlaveryYour Money or Your Life could also be inspirational for some teens. All of these would be great gifts for teens or a great basis for a personal finance curriculum. You can find all of them at your local library, as well as a dozen different financial magazines.

I agree with what J.D. says in his post — your taste may vary, so just check a lot of books out of the library and find what works for you.

And — I think J.D. would add another important area of money management to those I mentioned: getting out of debt. The best part about having your child study the subject of debt is that it may help him or her avoid accruing it in the first place!

J.D.’s blog is the personal finance blog I most often recommend, but there are many. Many, many, many. Finance blogs, books, and magazines are similar to diet blogs, books, and magazines — there are infinite variations on what boils down to the same basic advice. So, find the delivery that you like the most and just get started. Don’t worry about finding the perfect program — it’s more important to just pick something and start.

When it comes to starting a business, I like Jason Fried’s advice about bootstrapping.

If you have financial literacy resources to share, please do so in the comments!

For tomorrow’s post, I’m interested to know — do you pay your child an allowance? Do you have rules about your child spends his or her money?


Wreck this journal

Published by Lori Pickert on April 22, 2009 at 08:15 PM

Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal is full of prompts to help perfectionists and nervous nellies get over the fear of making a mistake and ruining a blank journal or sketchbook.

You could also just write a whole lot of journal prompts on little slips of paper and put them in a jar. Pull one out each day or just when you can’t think of anything to do or draw. We used to do this at school; in fact, I think I have a big jar of prompts somewhere around here.

Sketchbooks/journals are valuable tools for project learning — it’s good to build your skills by exploring everything you can do with them! The more comfortable you get with facing that blank page and filling it up, the better.


Project journal — parent’s

Published by Lori Pickert on October 14, 2008 at 02:15 PM

I use my project journal to keep track of

  • what the boys are doing each day
  • books they’ve read
  • movies they’ve seen
  • sites they’ve visited online
  • their conversations
  • letters and e-mails they’ve sent
  • photos of them working
  • photos they’ve taken
  • their sketches, models, and constructions
  • their questions
  • their plans
  • their requests — for materials, field work, etc.
  • and so on...

I use a digital camera and print out my photos on regular copy paper to glue in my journal. I also display these on bulletin boards dedicated to their ongoing projects, and I print copies of anything they want to put in their own journals.

I highlight their questions in my journal, so I can remind them later of things they wanted to investigate.

I also highlight things I want to remember to do — get them materials they asked for, make copies of some sketches for their project board, etc.

(I am not this well organized in, well, any other aspect of my life. But I know from experience that if I don’t write things down as they happen, I will quickly lose track of their plans and questions and wonderings. They speed along so steadfastly that if I’m not coming along behind with a basket to collect all of their future plans — the things they have thought of, but haven’t done yet — many of them will be lost forever.)

My journal is an important tool for me. My part in our learning relationship is to support them in their investigation, and that requires a lot of me — I have to pay attention to what’s happening every day. I have to be quiet and see what they are saying, doing, and planning, without my interference. I have to respond faithfully when they ask for things — whether it’s wire, tape, help looking up something online, or a trip to the natural history museum. I need to keep track of all those lines of inquiry they mark as a path they want to follow later, when they have more time, so they can focus on what they are doing right now.

Your journal can also be a powerful assessment tool, if that is something you need or want to do. And it is a powerful reminder of what your children can accomplish simply following their own trail of questions.

A project journal should not be simply a diary of what happened, however — focusing on the past. To be a useful tool, you must constantly review and reflect. Your role isn’t a passive one, trailing along behind your children, dutifully taking notes. Their project journals will be primarily about their topic — say, bees — but your project journal is primarily about your topic — your children and how they learn. Therefore, it isn’t a dead record of the past, but a living documentation that stretches from the past into the future.

Also see: Inside my project journal

Children Make Sculpture

Published by Lori Pickert on January 27, 2008 at 05:27 PM


I ordered this book after I saw Lena's copy.



“This book attempts to show children involved in making sculpture. Their work does not have to be good, finished or artistic. What matters is the activity itself and the knowledge gained by the child…”


This book was written in 1972. It is the work we did with children from 2000 to 2007, and it is the same message we tried to spread through our own work with children, workshops and conferences, and educational consulting.

It is not a new message. We are saying the same things that Elizabeth Leyh was saying in 1972; unfortunately they are still largely ignored. We were constantly having to explain to parents, education students, teachers, visiting administrators, etc., that what the children were doing was important and meaningful and a better use of their time than coloring in a mimeo book about apples or making a follow-the-directions craft.


Many of the books that sustained me during the running-a-private-school years were written decades earlier. Yet the vast majority of the work with children that we observed in both public and private schools didn't reveal one one-hundredth of what we knew children were capable of doing, making, experiencing, and expressing.

That's not to say we shouldn't keep trying. What I'm trying to say is, we must keep trying.


Holiday gift ideas for your child artist

Published by Lori Pickert on November 19, 2007 at 03:05 PM


In the coming week, I'm going to focus on the art studio, our basic inventory, more advanced inventory, and how to store and display your materials.

Most of the large art-supply stores offer weekly coupons in the newspaper and online; they also honor each other's coupons! Tomorrow, my post will be about some nicer items you can add to your studio when you can take advantage of a sale or coupon.

Today, I have some suggestions for holiday gift ideas for your young artists. Another great use for the coupon!

sketchbooks (small for field work, larger sizes for working at home)

Bundle with a small field bag (you can sew yourself if you are handy), a plastic enclosed pencil sharpener, pencil case with pencils, small magnifying glass, a couple of small guide books, and you have one of my favorite presents of all time.

high-quality markers/marker sets

These markers will make everyone who sees them want to sit down and draw. They’re brighter and have more varied colors than typical children’s markers.

scratch-board kits with tools included

My sons love to do scratch art; the boards are kind of pricey and fall into special gift territory for us. You can also make your own boards once you have the tools.

small canvases with a set of acrylic paints

Canvases are available in every possible size and in bundled packages. Inexpensive craft-store acrylic paint sold in small bottles is fine for painting on these.

Stocking stuffer ideas:

multicoloredpencils.jpgmetallic pencils (for the best Star Wars drawings, robots, machine designs) (great on black construction paper)

glitter glue (a favorite of kids everywhere)

fat multicolored pencils

tiny sketchbooks

mini staplers with colored staples (great for tiny book-making)

fancy-edge scissors

Finally, here are some of my favorite children's books about art and artists:

The Yellow House

The Boy Who Drew Birds: The Story of John James Audubon

My Name is Georgia


Degas and the Little Dancer (and the others from the Anholt’s Artists series)

Story Painter

Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors

A Bird or Two

Tar Beach


Artist to Artist: 23 Illustrators Talk to Children about their Art

Leonardo da Vinci

This is by no means an exhaustive list, just some of our favorites!

A little more Eric Carle

Published by Lori Pickert on October 20, 2007 at 01:29 PM

carle-catepillar.jpgThe Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art uses a Reggio-inspired approach in their art studio programs.

Based on the ateliers of Reggio Emilia, programs in the Art Studio feature a variety of materials and techniques in order to promote the process of “thinking” with our hands, eyes, and sensibilities, as well as our brains. By using one’s visual language as a means of inquiry and investigation of the world, the cognitive and expressive processes are joined in the development of knowledge. Whether through the drop-in Public Art Program available to all visitors whenever the Museum is open, the group programs which include a gallery and studio component, or the many workshops and classes offered by teaching artists, we are guided by the belief that encounters with materials teach us about ourselves, heighten our awareness of the world around us, and promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of the visual arts.

Eric Carle also has a separate website, which includes an FAQ that might be interesting to children who enjoy his work. At the bottom of the same page are links to download Eric's "occasional newsletter", the Caterpillar Express.

Book review: Artist to artist

Published by Lori Pickert on October 19, 2007 at 09:40 PM



artisttoartist-wells.jpgI ordered this beautiful and inspiring book because it fit so nicely with J's project on cartooning and comics. He has loved reading books that contained interviews with his favorite cartoonists, and this seemed like a lovely continuation of artists talking about their work.


This book is published by and benefits the Eric Carle Museum, which has a few lovely activities for kids at their website. I would love to visit the museum in person someday.

Each illustrator (some of whom are author/illustrators) tells a little about how they came to be an artist and give some encouragement or advice to the young artists reading the book. There are pictures of their studios and showing the process of how their work progresses from sketches to finished products. Finally, they have self-portraits done in their signature style.

artisttoartist-carle.jpgForget about the kids, *I* loved and was very inspired by this book! It makes a lovely read. Look for it at your library, or think about giving it as a special gift (maybe with a pad of nice paper and some colored pencils) to your favorite young artist.