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 and camp and late summer nights.  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 taken any big field trips this summer, and we haven't acquired any new animals like last summer, but our summer break isn't officially over yet!

Husband has a work conference in Atlanta and I have family in GA so we're planning a road trip to visit family and do a few fun field trips.  I'm sure I'll 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.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

More Charlotte Mason Books to Read

This is the year, folks.  The year that I buckle down and learn how to really implement the methods that are conducive to Charlotte Mason's 20 Principles.

This post contains affiliate links.

I've got the living books down.  I fell in love with Charlotte Mason initially because I was smitten wth the idea of using real books! I am comfortable with narration.  I can handle picture study, and I'm pretty good about including folk songs and hymns!

What I struggle with is moving beyond passive observation in nature study to the more concentrated effort required for serious nature journaling.

I understand the idea behind short and varied lessons to present a feast, and I've seen it work in my own home - but I know I will need more discipline in creating a peaceful atmosphere as I add kids into our formal day and we work on transitions between those short, varied lessons.

I know I'm supposed to have my kids "keeping" time with Timelines and a Book of Centuries.

I've dabbled in Foreign Language and Shakespeare and Plutarch, but I need the motivation for consistency and dedication.

So I'm continuing to read.  In Charlotte Mason Planning Mode, I shared three books I was currently reading.  They are slow and steady reads.

I forgot to mention then, that I'm reading A Philosophy of Education, Volume 6 by Charlotte Mason.  Full disclosure, I haven't read all of the first five volumes yet.  I read Volume 1 (for ages 9 and under) when I was first preparing to homeschool, and then stopped there for a long time. However, I've more than once came across the recommendation to read Volume 6 if your kids are of varied ages or older, especially since it was her last book after years of refining her methods, so that's what I've been working on, as far as my "straight from the source" book.

Which Volume Should I Read First? - from Ambleside Online

Just this week I also received Catherine Levison's trio of homeschooling books to review for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine!  I was so thrilled to see these pop up--as a reviewer for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and as part of The Schoolhouse Review Crew for several years now, I've noticed it is kind of rare to see Charlotte Mason resources! Sure, there are the programs that utilize living books, but usually in a very non-CM way, and there are plenty of supplemental programs that can be tweaked to be "CM friendly," but it is rare to see niche products dedicated to the Charlotte Mason philosophy come up for review!  I guess there are Charlotte Mason companies out there that offer their products for reviews to bloggers, but apparently I don't run in the same blogging circles.  Anyway, I've digressed.

A Charlotte Mason Education: A Homeschooling How-To Manual by Catherine Levison
I actually read this book alongside CM's Volume 1 when I was first preparing to homeschool.  It is a quick, practical guide to getting started with Mason's methods, and I would definitely recommend it for those new to CM or wanting to learn more about it.  In fact, it's probably a great book for the grandparent or family member who is supportive but doesn't quite understand.  I'm going to read it again with fresh eyes - at the time I only had two kids that weren't even school age.  Now I have a 7th grader, 5th grader, 1st grader and a 4 year old tag-along.

More Charlotte Mason Education: A Homeschooling-How To Manual by Catherine Levison
According to Levison, this book has "more" in every aspect - it is about twice the size, and has more information, is more in-depth, and comes from having "more" experience has a homeschool parent and convention speaker.  I'll be interested to see if the tone changes with her experience.

A Literary Education by Catherine Levison
This book was written to share "what" rather than how.  It is full of information about books and resources for subjects, with descriptions, as well as some scope and sequence type information for reference.

Although I know it's wise to go through Mason's volumes myself and keep her principles in mind, I really do like seeing how other homeschoolers, especially those who have "been there done that" interpret and apply the methods, because it helps me figure out how to get things working practically in our home.

©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.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Timeline Figures from Home School in the Woods {review}

Homeschool Mom Confession:  I have never implemented a timeline.  I know I should, and from the Charlotte Mason perspective, timelines and the Book of Centuries (which is a specific form of a timeline in a book) are imperative to history, particularly for allowing the child to make connections.  I just never found the right way to go about it, that didn't feel overwhelming to me.  I had already told myself this coming school year would be the year to start something, so when I was given the opportunity to review Timeline Collection: A Collection of Historical Timeline Figures from Home School in the Woods, I knew it would be a good opportunity to finally figure something out for keeping records for history.

Home School in the Woods Timeline Figures

The Timeline Figures were a digital download licensed to a single family, though teacher or school licenses are also available.  Once I downloaded the collection in two sets, I realized there were a lot of "pages," similar to their other products, but there are Help pages and everything you need to figure out how to get started, so it's just a matter of taking the time to acquaint yourself with it.  It opens like a webpage, so I just bookmarked the pages, and I am good to go!

These timeline figures can be used in so many ways!  Among the files you will find information on how to use the figures--with wall timelines, notebook timelines, card files, matching games, file folder games, lapbooks, and penmanship notebooks. I love the idea of using the figures to accompany copywork passages - I could see using them as coloring pages for my rising 1st grader while I read, then she could do a related copywork passage afterwards!

These appear to have originally been on CD (and you can still purchase them that way), and that is how the pages are labeled, which each "CD" organized differently.

On the first page (CD 1) everything is chronological, and within each subcategory, you will find sets of pages with multiple figures.

Home School in the Woods Timeline Figures

These are PDFs, and you can print each page in one of four ways.

-Wall timeline figures with text
-Wall timeline figures without text
-Notebook timeline figures with text
-Notebook timeline figures without text

The notebook sizes are offered for those that cannot scale their printings, but if you wish to change the scale, they recommend doing it with the wall timeline figures.

Home School in the Woods Timeline Figures
Wall Size with Text, from Napoleon to Now

The second page (CD 2) organizes the figures by category.  This is helpful if you're studying a more narrow topic, or want individual figures.  I love that since we're studying modern history next year, I can go straight to the primary topics that I want to focus on (WWI, WWII, Civil Rights, Cold War, etc.) or a topic that is of particular interest to my kid, and print off individual figures.  Some people/events will naturally fall into multiple categories--I noticed Billy Graham under both Authors and Religious Figures for example, but you can always use the Complete List of Images to quickly find what you need.

Home School in the Woods Timeline Figures

The images on CD 2 are GIF and are higher quality for printing in larger sizes--so this is what we'll use for notebooking, coloring or copywork pages.  There are also instructions for copying them into a document--if you're wanting to print several varied, specific figures, instead of the prearranged groups from the first CD.

As of right now, we're kind of at that weird place in the summer where we're finished with last year's work, and we're taking a break to prepare for next year and new curriculum and books, but I don't really want to STOP all schooling because I want them to know learning is continuous, and of course it helps to keep a light routine.  So I've collected a few memorable people/events from their history last year - this was a screen shot from some we chose to represent my oldest son's history.  We love that it's more than just pictures of famous people--so many events are represented through maps and symbols!

Home School in the Woods Timeline Figures
Various GIFs copied into Pages to represent exactly what we want!

It's a gentle way to review, and then once we officially resume lessons, we'll already have a few figures ready for us to start making connections!  I think we're going to stick with a Book of Centuries style notebook method for my rising 5th and 7th graders.  I think this will be the most efficient and space saving, and having these timeline figures will be beneficial for my kids who are intimidated by drawing.

Additionally, the Timeline Figures are helping us to prepare for next year because I decided to make notebook dividers for some of the main topics we're going to study this year, knowing we can add more as they want/need them.  I just printed them, without text, on card stock paper.  Preparing them gives the kids a peek into the year and kind of whets the appetite for what's to come!  Behind the dividers, they can put any lists or vocabulary notes, written narrations, drawings, or maps.  So it'll be a different type of "mini-timeline" in a notebook and a collection of their thoughts and work that correlate.

Home School in the Woods Timeline Figures
Divider's for my 7th Grader's Modern History studies

Final Thoughts
This is a very comprehensive set, but as with any product based on time, it is not going to be completely up to date.  The section on U.S. Presidents stopped at George W. Bush for instance.  However, as homeschoolers, I feel it is my job to teach my children how to improvise.  There is no reason they can't figure out how to create their own timeline figure if what they want doesn't exist in this set.

This set still saves a lot of time for everyone who does not want to create or hunt down all of the images on their own.  The images are great quality and I'm very pleased with this product!  The best thing is that it is not curriculum specific--it can be used with any history curriculum or homeschooling method from traditional to Charlotte Mason to unit studies to unschooling.

If you need more information about implementing timelines in the homeschool, I suggest reading Teaching With Timelines by Amy Pak.  Timelines offer much more than a visual representation of history, and with this collection of timeline figures that also encompasses not just historical figures and events, but also scientists, artists, composers and authors, you'll see how history is influenced by scientific advances, and how the current events of the time influenced culture.  Everything is intertwined, and I think a great timeline will help showcase this and allow more natural connections.

Home School in the Woods

I have reviewed several Home School in the Woods products in the past.

Great Empires
Wonders of the World
History Games - À La Carte Projects

This doesn't even scratch the surface of what they have to offer, and I highly check out the variety of hands-on history projects and supplemental products they carry.  The Homeschool Review Crew is currently reviewing Time Travelers and Project Passport products, so be sure to check out more reviews.

World History (Project Passport), U.S. History Studies (Time Travelers) and Timeline Collection: A Collection of Historical Timeline Figures  {Home School in the Woods Reviews}

For more information, visit Home School in the Woods, or check them out 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.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Sneak Peak at Homeschool Reviews to Come

I took a little time off from doing reviews on the blog, but I'm stepping back into them, and we have a great lineup as we look forward to the new school year!  This might not be the exact order that I'll be sharing the reviews, but here's a sneak-peak at the reviews I have coming up over the next couple of months.

Home School in the Woods Timeline Figures
If you're looking for an excellent resource for timelines, you'll want to read this review!  Home School in the Woods has a wealth of resources for history.

Library and Educational Services
This review is for anyone who loves books and buying wholesale!  This is just a snippet of the materials I received from them recently!

This is an online K-12 math curriculum.  I gave a general review a couple of years ago (CTCMath review), and we have continued to use it since then!  For this review, I'll be expanding on some of the newer features - including assigning Tasks and the new Question Bank Wizard!

Britfield & the Lost Crown (audiobook)
I don't have this one in hand yet, but I've read the first two chapters and could have easily read more right then, so I think this is going to be a fun audiobook for our upcoming road trip!  There is a study guide that I'll be discussing in the review as well.

Zeezok - Music Appreciation: Book 2 Collection
This is an extensive music appreciation course that utilizes living biographies and a comprehensive workbook.  It meets national standards for music for 5th-8th grades, but I think the course itself is flexible for a wider age range.

Easy Grammar Plus
This is a middle school grammar course that I will be using with my 7th grader when it arrives.  I was already eyeing this program for this year, so I was excited to see it offered for review.  Hopefully it is a good fit for my middle schooler!

Reading Eggs - 200 Essential Math Skills for 1st Grade
We've already reviewed the Kindergarten Math workbook, so we'll slide right into the 1st grade book when it arrives.  I'll be looking at how the workbook transitions from K to 1st grade material, and of course, the content and scope and sequence covered!  Plus, we always love the Reading Eggs website as well!

You can also check out my full page of reviews that I've done over the last several years, which I have loosely categorized by subject.  If you ever have any questions about reviews or products we've used over the years, feel free to ask!

©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, July 18, 2019

Charlotte Mason Planning Mode

This is what it looks like when you're in planning mode for next school year, and can't decide what homeschooling books to read for yourself to help better implement the Charlotte Mason philosophy! You just start reading all of them!

Honestly, I have had all of these books for awhile, but I'm just now getting around to reading them.  I know, I know!

Know and Tell: The Art of Narration by Karen Glass
This is a great book for helping to understand how narration looks and progresses through each stage.  This year I will have a beginning narrator (Y1), a strong oral narrator that will begin written narrations, and the oldest--he's been doing written narrations for two years and we're getting ready to step it up a notch! Since the kids are all over the place in ability and skill, this is helping me to keep in perspective what I should expect from each of them.  There are a lot of samples from students of all ages and abilities, and there is a lot of practical and useful help on actually implementing narration.

The Living Page: Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte Mason by Laurie Bestvater
I'm not very far into this book yet, but I'm making it a point to read it, because I have been lacking in the area of notebooks!  We've been very hit and miss on the nature journal, mostly miss.  I haven't started a book of centuries with the boys.  I just need a little bit more . . . focus, I guess, to get me there. The book doesn't feel as straightforward as Know and Tell, but I want to give it a chance!

Minds More Awake: The Vision of Charlotte Mason by Anne E. White
While the first two books are specific in their scope, this one gives a broader look at the philosophy as a whole.  White's writing style is both straightforward and conversational, and I'm hoping to feel inspired and encouraged from it as we move forward into a new year.

Hopefully I will remember to write a follow-up post with actual reviews of the books, and what I've learned and applied from them!

©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.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Kindergarten in Review

This year was my third round through Kindergarten! My plan is always to keep it light and informal, and to follow their lead, while slowly introducing academics in an appropriate way.  Eleanor is precocious and enjoys "school," so anything we've done has been at her insistence.

She has used Essential Math Skills for Kindergarten from Mathseeds.  (Review)  We let the online subscription expire--it was okay--but she really enjoyed the workbook. It's colorful and the activities varied, and she asked to do it frequently.

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Language Arts
We are using and loving Logic of English Foundations!  We've taken it slow, just because she was only in Kindergarten and I was spending a lot of time ping-ponging between the boys.  She does like it though, because it has the workbook that makes her feel like she's doing big-kid school (while still being very age-appropriate with minimal writing), and it is full of the hands-on activities that she enjoys.  I like it because it has just enough guidance for me as the parent, it is not twaddly, and the lessons can be CM-friendly!

The plan is to really get back into it the week the boys go to camp, work through the summer while I'm not as focused on them, and then just work as far as needed until she's reading fluently and confidently.  (Emory only did Levels A and B before his reading exploded, so we'll see how it goes from there.)

Literature/Five in a Row
Essentially, we spent most of the year just reading quality literature.  As she wanted her own notebook and to do more like her brothers, around the time she turned six, we started doing the occasional "row" from Five in a Row.  I found this a good solution because I already own and love the curriculum, and it's just enough for an eager child to see the fruit of their work without being overwhelming for either of us. She could do drawings and paste things into a simple sketchbook, and she has enjoyed that!

Here are a few of the books we've read and enjoyed this year.  If I blogged a row or related activity, I've included a link to that as well.

The Giraffe that Walked to Paris by Nancy Milton   (Literature Fair)
Angus Lost by Marjorie Flack and Henry the Castaway by Mark Taylor  (Combined row)
Henry Explores the Jungle by Mark Taylor
Papa Piccolo by Carol Talley  (row)
Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton (row)
Little Babaji by Helen Bannerman
Little Nino's Pizzeria by Karen Barbour (row)
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
Tom Thumb retold by Richard Jesse Watson
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey
The Gingerbread Man by Gail Yerrill
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Three Billy Goats Gruff by Paul Galdone
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Beatrix Potter stories
Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales

All The Other Stuff

Master Kits The Starry Night (review)

She's helped raise chickens, a potbellied pig, and caterpillars into butterflies.  She loves arts and crafts, keeping a nature journal, and using Draw Write Now.

She has been active in our church, including Sunday School, Junior Church, Junior Choir, AWANA, the Christmas play, and related activities.


Apparently she loves to race!

She had a great year at co-op as well!  She was "Kindergarten" where they did a Letter of the Week theme through the year.  They had show-and-tell, crafts, activities and snacks all centered around the letter(s) of the week.  She also had Gym, which she liked a lot better this year than last!  They did a Kindergarten graduation ceremony, which was just too sweet!

Final Thoughts
For Kindergarten, I think this has been a successful "unofficial" year.  She's spent a lot of time outdoors and in nature, she's made progress in math and phonics, and she's really grown in her confidence in regards to her outside classes.  All the other stuff is just icing on the cake!

Oh, and without a doubt, her favorite "field trip" has been Great Wolf Lodge!

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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Ambleside Online Year 3 in Review

As always, I like to do a reflection post to look at how our school year went - what books we used and enjoyed (or didn't enjoy), and what we might do differently with younger siblings.  Emory started the year with Ambleside Online Year 3, but we did adjustments along the way as usual.  The beauty of homeschooling is that I get to make the curriculum work for the individual child!  

Social Studies
He enjoyed A Child's History of the World and Our Island Story, and tolerated This Country of Ours. I don't love TCOO and neither does his older brother, and I have to wonder how there is nothing better for this age range that covers the same time period!?

Note: I have a beautiful blue hardback copy of Our Island Story from Civitas Press that I bought used but in like new condition when I first found AO years ago--it's still a decent price used, but I would also suggest Living Book Press who is now republishing many AO books in the public domain.  What I have of theirs is nice quality!

History Biographies
We chose Michelangelo as our first term biography, and picture study option (we read a da Vinci book last year when we studied him for picture study) and I read it to him.  He read Good Queen Bess for his second term biography, and I think he liked it better.  I moved Shakespeare to a family read.

We read The Adventures of Marco Polo by Russell Freedman as our Polo book of choice.  I found it on the list of possibilities, and there are longer selections to fill out a whole year, but I made this one work.  He found the book itself interesting, but dreaded mapping it for some reason.

He also did Seterra and the Stack the States app, with a preference for Stack the States.


He liked Science well enough this year.  I didn't change much for him.  He really enjoyed A Drop of Water and the activities, and he loved Science Lab in a Supermarket--there were a few activities we didn't get to in that book, so we plan to go back this summer and do them!

Pagoo - He tolerated this book.  We watched a couple little videos of hermit crabs when I'd come across them online, and we did bits and pieces of this Pagoo Unit Study.  I do not recommend the unit in its entirety, but for a kid who likes to color- it has flora/fauna clipart, as well as a few other basic science "worksheet" type pages that could work for written narration for the older Y3 who likes them, particularly if you need portfolio fodder.  If you do like unit studies, it's a nice little science unit!

Secrets of the Woods - I started out reading it, but then he took over.  We read most of the book, but we let it go at summer break.  He loves animals and nature, but wasn't impressed with this book.  He kept asking me if the stories were true, and we talked about how Long was a naturalist, and how we can give the author the benefit of the doubt, but we can also be judicious in reading and expect that even "true stories" can be exaggerated to make them more interesting stories.   (I know there was controversy among naturalists regarding his books, but I didn't go into specifics with him, because it seemed that ideas was already in his mind.)

He also took a science class at co-op (eclectic mix of topics) and he reads a variety of kids science/nature magazines and encyclopedia type books for pleasure.

Nature Study
We're not consistent with journaling, but this boy has a heart for God's creatures!

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There were some changes here, mostly due to his personal preferences/requests, and a little bit of scheduling.

Somehow Christiana's Journey fell off his reading schedule, but he was giving good narrations when he was reading it.  We also dropped Parables from Nature - I think we'll try to read those as a family, since I have two more kids coming up.

Tall Tales - He read this independently, and gave detailed narrations - to the point that I sometimes wanted to cut him off!

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald - We read this one together, though we got off track and it took us a longer than scheduled. He did like it!

Children of the New Forest by F. Marryat - Since we got a late start on this one, I moved it to a read-aloud for both Y3/Y5.  We're supposed to be reading it this summer to finish it . . .

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling - He listened to this one as an audio book. It was a good option for him, except he liked to listen ahead and finished early.  Looking back, I probably could have had him read Book 2 but I let him read a free read in that slot instead.

The Heroes - Book 1 Perseus
He liked this, but we found the second book harder to get into and he was wanting something he could do independently.  I didn't like the pacing/scheduling of this book, and that threw us off too.


The World's Best Fairy Tales, Anthology He requested this book when he found it on the shelf, and since he didn't formally get fairy tales in Y1, I went with it, even though he was familiar with some of the stories already.  He was fascinated with the non-Disney type versions of some of the stories though, and gave excellent narrations.

D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths by Ingrid and Edgar d'Aulaire - This was a specific request to kind of replace Heroes, but also for his personal interests.  Again, he gave excellent narrations, so I ended up "scheduling" it nearly daily as a free read that didn't require narrations.  He even used this book as his literature fair project!

He wanted to follow it up with their Greek Myths book, but since Age of Fable is scheduled for Y4 he decided to go with the actual follow-up,  Book of Trolls this summer.

Shakespeare & Plutarch

These areas are a work in progress for me!  I don't know why I have such a hard time being structured and consistent here.  When we weren't making forward progress with Shakespeare, I did at least move Bard of Avon from the bio section to family reading, so I guess that's something!  Although Plutarch starts in Y4, he was a fourth grader, so I thought we'd give it a try.  The boys did okay with the narrations, but I just lost track somewhere.

William Shakespeare's Macbeth retold by Bruce Coville
Bard of Avon by Diane Stanley
The Plutarch Primer: Publicola by Ann White


Mathematics & Language Arts

He used CTCMath for his core math-it's straightforward, and he rarely complains, so I'm leaving it!  He did also use XtraMath for math drills.

For language arts, he used a basic cursive workbook, and Language Lessons for Children from Cottage Press. It's very Charlotte Mason friendly at this level--readings, narration, copywork, dictations, light spelling/grammar reinforcement, nature study and picture study.  The website has free resources to accompany the curriculum as well!  He liked it, and said he'd like to continue it, so we'll see!

Final Thoughts
This doesn't include picture study, nature study, junior choir and other church activities, co-op, all the field trips we took this year, or his personal interests - it is just a snippet of his academics - but even though we didn't follow Y3 as written, we still had a good year.  He liked most of the books and when asked, he said he wants to continue what he's doing for next year, so I probably will move him into Y4 with a few modifications that suit him.  I know we're going to use Beautiful Feet Books for Geography, as Minn of the Mississippi is assigned, and I'm going to try to work Paddle to the Sea in as well, since he hasn't read/mapped that one.  There will be a few book substitutions for him, but I think I'll write about next year after I finalize our plans.

Mr. Personality at Loveland Castle

©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.