Wednesday, August 14, 2019

10 Benefits of Literature-Based Homeschooling

10 Benefits Literature Based Homeschool

It is good for the brain!  Research has shown time and time again that reading to children improves the parent-child bond and increases language skills - including visual imagery, vocabulary and comprehension!

Books are more fun than textbooks and workbooks.  Have you ever met an interesting textbook?  Did you really enjoy all comprehension questions and fill-in-the-blank worksheets?  No?  Me either.  Living books, however, are full of real people, excitement, emotion!  A story sticks with us much more than a bullet point list from a textbook!

Real books increase attention spans.  Think about the studying you did with a textbook.  You probably had to re-read sections, take notes, highlight passages . . . all to force yourself to remember the material.  How often do you find yourself doing that with a novel?  With real books, following the narrative is almost intuitive; we tend to absorb stories without much effort!  When we're reading longer books over a period of time, we must continuously recall the previous parts of the story, and our minds are working to connect the differnet elements and layers of the story, to make meaning of the events and to predict what's coming next.  When some plot twist happens, we suddenly have that moment where exclaim "Oh that makes sense now!"

You can cover almost every subject with a book!  If you know how to hunt down quality living books, you can find "spines" for subjects like history, and supplement with excellent biographies.  You can learn about faraway places through beautifully written travel stories.  Nonfiction science books written in literary form are also plentiful!  You can supplement your composer stories and picture studies with well-written biographies.  Living Math is a website dedicated to helping you explore mathematical concepts in real ways, and includes many math readers!  Life of Fred is an entire math curriculum written in story form that seems to be very popular!  If you're a Charlotte Mason homeschooler, you probably know how vocabulary is not a random list of words to define, but  is learned organically as part of the bigger story.

Literature can bring together multiple ages!  If you read aloud to the family, everyone can enjoy the same story at their own level. CS Lewis said "No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally - and often far more - worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond."  Children can comprehend books at a higher level when you read aloud to them, and everyone takes away from the story what is important and meaningful to them.

A literature based homeschool can be nearly free. A library card can get you lovely picture books, classics, historical fiction, non-fiction, reference books, audio books and access to so much more!  Books in the public domain are also easily found online for free as ebooks, or audiobooks at places like!  Here's my list of Free {or inexpensive} Audiobook Resources for Homeschooling.

You don't need a lesson plan.  You can just pick excellent books and read, read, read!  You can follow a general scope and sequence, but you can make your own schedule and follow your own desires!

There are excellent literature-based programs available!  If you do desire a curriculum, you can find one!  There are Charlotte Mason programs, CM-inspired programs, and others that just use literature as a starting point.  Almost all of them will help you identify the best of children's literature and give you a game plan for exposing your children to great ideas through living books!  These are my favorite resources, though there are many more available:

Ambleside Online - Full Charlotte Mason curriculum, and it's FREE!
Five in a Row - my favorite go-to for picture books, and a lovely curriculum in its own right!
Beautiful Feet Books  - great history selections, with a few other subjects as well!
Simply Charlotte Mason - Full history curriculum, and many science and literature suggestions!
Sabbath Mood Homeschool - Science booklists and curriculum following the CM method

You can inspire "non-readers" to read more with the right books!  I have one son in particular that doesn't particularly care about reading, but is highly interested in comic books and movies.  I've picked up biographies on people like Stan Lee and George Lucas, as well as decent graphic novels on topics of interest.  We're planning to read at least one Shakespeare play this year written as a graphic novel--more if I can find them in original language!  Since he loves movies, movie night is a reward for a book well read!

Living books speak to you!  They are the classics, the well-written books that you treasure because they opened your eyes to something special, or they made you understand a person's motives or appreciate a moment in time.  These books help us make connections between our lives and what's going on in the world.  They are the books that engage the heart, the mind, the soul!

©2011-2019 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

A Peek into our Homeschool: Summer 2019

I know every homeschool schedule is different.  Some families follow the local school district calendar, while some school year round, and some follow a Sabbath schedule.  We tend to loosely follow a mid-August to end of May plan, with our "summer break" in June and July.  It doesn't always work out to a neat and tidy schedule, but the older kids are now aware of when the local school kids are on breaks, and it does help to have a lighter schedule in the summer months for VBS, camps, late summer nights and family trips!  We do continue academics, just on a lighter scale - it helps keep a routine and helps keep us moving forward.

The kids had Bible School in June.  The theme was In The Wild and it was full of great Bible lessons, music, crafts, food, prizes, games, friends and fun!  Several saved!  What a blessing!  I was the K/1 leader, so I have more individual pictures of Eleanor but all of the kids had a great time as always!

We also had tent revival the next week, which was hosted by three area churches who took turns leading the service, then preaching was done by a preacher that does a lot of local revivals and camps.  Most of my family (husband and all four kids, actually) ended up passing around some 24 hour bug, so we only made it the first through nights, but those were great!


In July, both boys went to camp.  As part of the youth group, Elliott went to church camp.  Our church, along with a couple area churches went to a nearby camp/retreat for a week of praise and worship!  The same preacher from tent revival did the teen camp, so I know it was good!  Of course they had games and swimming and all that fun stuff that goes along with camp.  They have friendly competitions throughout the week (through team and individual games, Bible Bowl and the like) and Elliott was on the winning team this year.  I wasn't sent any pictures that didn't have other kids in it, so nothing to post, but he had a great time and I'm so happy he was able to attend!

Emory went to the local career/vocational school for a day camp the same week.  He was in the 5th/6th grade group.  They were given several class choices to rank, and he ended up with Robotics, and his first choice-Crime Scene Investigation.  In Robotics they built robots to destroy things, built LEGO towers as teams, learned about coding, and I'm not sure what else!

In CSI they were taught by a former police offer.  They learned about crime scenes, finger printing, footprints and the like.  He brought home several pages of fingerprints one day, and the cast of his shoe another.

On the last day, they "trained" like one would to be come a police offer--exercises and lifting a dummy and such, and Emory came in 3rd place!  He did make it a point to tell me they weren't tasered though!  It was close to my husband's work, so Husband picked him up all week and brought him back to work for a couple of hours, which was a treat.

While the boys were at camp, the girls and I just stayed around the house and cleaned, played outside, did some fun school-ish activities, and I enjoyed a QUIET house.

The rest of July we mostly just did cookouts and visited family.

Emory was the ring bearer in his cousin's wedding!

The day of the wedding, the girls went to play at my aunt's house, so they were entertained by her teenage granddaughter and had a blast!  They're trying on their great-grandma's cat eye sunglasses here!

As I mentioned, academics are slow and light during the summer.  They have continued with some CTC Math lessons and wrapped up a couple of history readings.  We have played familiar hymns and folk songs in the background, and we've started working in new review items.

We haven't acquired any new animals like last summer, but we have a trip planned in August, and I'll be sure to share more on that later!

©2011-2019 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Library and Educational Services {review}

As a reader and a homeschooling parent, books are certainly important to me! I am always looking to build our home library both for homeschooling and so that we may share books together as a family.  Naturally, I was thrilled to be able to review the services of Library and Educational Services LLC, a wholesale supplier that offers 30%-70% off retail prices!  As part of this review, I was able to choose from a large selection of materials, including What Were the Twin Towers? from the popular Who Was series, a CD of Lifehouse Theater The Princess and the Pigs, and several titles from their Reinforced Hardcover Library Binding Nonfiction Books.

Who Was . . .?
This series is very popular among kids ages 8-12 years old, and is known for its biographies on people ranging from historical figures to current pop culture icons.  The series has also expanded to include famous landmarks, battles and events throughout history.  I let my 9 year old choose the book from this series, because he is right in the target age range.  He decided on the title What Were the Twin Towers? by Jim O'Conner.

This book offers a decent amount of background information, such as the history of New York as a trading post, how the towers were built, their size and purpose . . . before getting to the hard stuff.  It wraps up with information about the years following 9/11 and The Survivor Tree, memorials, and the 9/11 Museum.  I do appreciate that the book gives more context--knowing what happened to the Towers is important, but understanding the significance of choosing them as a target is important as well.  Emory found the book interesting, often telling me facts that stood out to him.  The book was full of black and white drawings like others in the series, but it also includes 16 pages of black and white photos of the city and the Towers through the years, ending with the memorials.

While these aren't books that I would normally use or assign as part of our homeschooling with living books, I don't mind them for free/independent reading if the kids choose them.  They are quick and easy reads, and I think the popularity of the series is due to the simple text, easy-to-read format and variety of topics.

Lifehouse Theater CDs

Lifehouse Theater On-the-Air gives us fully dramatized versions of popular stories from literature, history and the Bible.  I chose the Princess and the Pigs primarily for my four and six year old daughters, because most of the time, they just end up along for the ride, listening to audio books for their older brothers.  They love princesses, and we adore our pet pig, so I thought it would be a fun treat for them, and a great way to connect with a story before it even started.

The Princess and the Pigs is a modernized dramatization (42 minutes) of the Grimms story King Thrushbeard, and has voice actors and sound effects to bring it to life.  Princess Mirabel is spoiled and entitled, and is a cruel bully who makes fun of all her suitors.  One suitor demands an audience for an apology, the frustrated King declares that his daughter shall marry the first person to come to the kitchen door, and suddenly a singing beggar appears!  Mirabel's new husband introduces her to starting a fire, cooking, pottery and of course . . . to some pigs!  We listened to this in the car as a family, and all of my kids (ages 4-12) ended up liking it!  The language is clean, but the story is rated ages 8+ and I suspect that is because of Mirabel's attitude and words like "brat and "heck" sprinkled throughout. While my family appreciates the quality of well-written original fairy tales, and doesn't particularly need everything "modernized," we liked this enough that I suspect we will enjoy others in the series as well.

Reinforced Hardcover Library Binding Nonfiction Books
Finally, we had the opportunity to choose $60 worth of Reinforced Hardcover Library Binding Nonfiction books.  There was such a huge variety of books offered individually, as well as sets. From animals, to biographies, careers, to pirates . . . ranging from Kindergarten through 12th grade material there was most definitely something for everyone! I ended up trying to choose books that would have wide use or appeal in our homeschool library.

True Ocean Rescue Stories by Susan Jankowski ($3.99)
This is a great book for kids who like true disaster and rescue stories.  It has a brief introduction of ocean rescue facts, then five chapters of ocean rescues that involve shipwrecks, submarines, and even dolphin rescues!  Along with the actual stories, there is historical information woven in, such as facts about maritime safety changing after the Titanic sinking and about the Navy SEALs.  This book is appropriate for upper elementary and middle school, but because disasters are involved, including some deaths, younger/sensitive children may need guidance.

American History Arts and Crafts - set of 3 ($18.63)
Learning about the Civil War with Arts & Crafts
Learning about Westward Expansion with Arts & Crafts
Learning about World War I and World War II with Arts & Crafts

These are short books, about 32 pages with the index, so they are just an overview of the topic--with graphics, maps and photographs enhancing the text.  Each book also includes a handful of craft ideas tied to the material.  For instance, after learning about Trench Warfare in the World War book, you'll find a little information about a Periscope with craft instructions.  Other crafts in that book include War Posters, a Military Airplane, and The Red Poppy.  The books are recommended for ages 8-12, and I think that's accurate for the text, but I think the crafts will likely appeal more to the youngest of that age range.  I really like how at the end of the book are ideas for further reading, and a website with a collection of online resources.

Graphic Careers - Set of 6 ($44.46)
One of my boys doesn't like to read, but if he has a choice in what he reads, he would typically choose comics or graphic novels.  He doesn't have a clue what path he might want to take after school, and while I certainly don't think he will make a career decision based on a graphic novel, I chose these because I liked the idea of presenting factual information in a format he'd likely find more palatable for light summer reading!  The books include not just information about the career, but a look at people in that field of work.  The careers represented are particularly interesting to my boys (9 and 12) but are certainly appropriate for girls of course.

We could order more than the $60 if we paid additional costs, and in full disclosure, I paid about $4 (the cost of True Ocean Rescue Stories) out of pocket for the hardcover books.  These books are high quality, and should certainly withstand the regular use of a home library.

Final Thoughts
For the last 43 years, Library and Educational Services LLC has been a wholesale supplier for educational and inspirational books, Bibles, CDs, and DVDs.  They sell primarily to Christian schools, churches and speciality stores, and they give homeschoolers the same discount as other schools!  They carefully review items to ensure they do not contradict Biblical values; I even noticed on their website that books with potential problems (like containing the word "heck") are noted on many descriptions.

We are happy with the wide selection just in the categories we chose from, but they have so much more to offer beyond that.  Just in the CD section alone, they carry the Adventures in Odyssey series, Focus on the Family Radio Theater, Boxcar Children CD series, Your Story Hour, Bibles on CD and Music.  They also carry Homeschool Resources, the popular Childhood of Famous Americans series, Crafts and Hobby supplies and again - so much more! 

Ordering was easy, and and the books came carefully packaged and in great condition!  I would most certainly order from them again!

Reviewers have had the opportunity to review more titles in the Who Was and Lifehouse Theater series, as well as choose from the multitude of reinforced hardcover library binding nonfiction books, so be sure to check out more reviews!

Wholesale Books for Your Homeschool {Library and Educational Services LLC Reviews}

For more information about Library and Educational Services LLC, visit their website or find them on social media!

Crew Disclaimer

©2011-2019 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.