Books, books, books!

In our early years, we used little curriculum and a lot of books. We still go to the library at least once a week; I almost always test drive a book before buying it. If I renew it twice and still want to keep it, then I buy it. Library Elf is the best $20 I spend each year because I avoid all fines by using it. If you’re looking for inspiration to find some new books, here are some places to start.

 

Sonlight.com – Sonlight makes literature-based curriculum for all grades. On their website you can look at the books listed for each grade and just pick and choose what interests you. You can order a paper catalog too. They have lots of historical fiction and read-alouds. Some of their books are quite dry but there is a lot to choose from so you won’t miss the ones you don’t like. The Sonlight forums are now free so you can ask about different books or just look on the feed that interests you. Don’t be afraid to go to books that are listed for a younger age group.

 

Classical-homeschooling.org has a 1000 Good Book List for all grades. I will sometimes sit at my computer with the library webpage open beside the book list putting books on hold. I have used it to find great books on CD for the car as well. We are nowhere near finishing the list and we haven’t enjoyed them all but it’s a great place to find some new titles, especially picture books. Don’t stop reading picture books too early, they are full of great stories and beautiful artwork. Use them until at least age 12. My 16 year old still sits and listens to me re-read our favourites.

 

Oak Meadow also has some good ideas for books, although their lists are a lot smaller than Sonlight. They are not quite as advanced as Sonlight so they can be a good comparison. For us, the Oak Meadow list is far more reasonable to complete in a year (although we still pick and choose).

 

There are also great books on Pinterest! Search by ‘book list’ or ‘books for children’ or ‘math books’ or whatever. There is a lot of love for children’s books on Pinterest. While you’re there, follow Oak Meadow because they post some great stuff.

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Fall Planning

With Jack going into grade nine, I have a lot of planning to do. He is really interested in cooking right now so I’m going to incorporate meal planning, budgeting, food preparation, grocery shopping, and gardening into his learning plan. He just finished a cooking daycamp where they did a ‘black box’ challenge (like the mystery box challenges on Masterchef) and he loved it so we’ll maybe do one of those each week. I figure I’ll give him a protein, a vegetable, maybe a grain, and a couple fun things in the box each week.

For math we are continuing with Saxon. I really like the look of Teaching Textbooks but we no longer have a computer with a CD-ROM drive so that’s not an option. Saxon has worked well for us the past few years and I expect this to be the last year before algebra. I like that each lesson has one new lesson and lots of review to choose from. We always do all of the lesson practice and sometimes I add more to that, but we never do all of the review. I supplemented last year with units from Teachers Pay Teachers and he liked those a lot, especially the circle geometry unit. Teachers Pay Teachers is a great way to get a unit for little money, at whatever grade level you need. With Mark just finished grade ten math I have a good idea what Jack will need to know. We need to add tests and quizzes this year, in a more formal way, so that he is prepared for high school level coursework. We’ve tended to do things orally or on paper with help but now he needs practice in test-taking.

History is going to be really fun this year as we continue with Year 4 of Tapestry of Grace: 20th Century History. We ended last year in the 1930s and we will begin this year with the study of Hitler and the rise of fascism. Jack is looking forward to World War II and it will be easy to incorporate Canadian content into our curriculum. We’re reading ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’ right now and we will also read Anne Frank and ‘The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,’ one of my favourites. Jack likes to make comics (not cartoons, as they aren’t usually funny) out of historical events and I expect he’ll do lots of that this year. It helps to bring everything together with dialogue and pictures.

Science is my struggle right now as I have not yet picked a curriculum. Cooking will play a role but we need something more concrete to get him ready for Science 10. I’m looking at Apologia Physical Science right now. I know for sure that he needs to do a lab notebook. He is interested in doing the Apologia Marine Biology course but it’s too advanced for him at this point. We may skip Physical Science and go straight into Biology though, since that’s what his brother is doing. I have often left science out and we’ve done units here and there but I can’t do that this year. Science 10 has been a struggle for Mark to get through because of our lack of science leading up to it.

That leaves the study of English, Jack’s weakest subject and my most challenging to teach him. Mark and I love literature and it’s tough to teach Jack, who wants nothing to do with it. We’re going to use Our Mother Tongue for grammar and move from paragraphs to essay writing. Jack didn’t read until he was eleven but he’s just about caught up. I still do some reading aloud and this year he’ll be working on reading for information as well as enjoyment. Again, we will be adding some tests to prepare for grade ten. I love Shakespeare but I think we’ll leave him until next year. I’m considering adding poetry and short stories but our focus is mostly on reading and writing essays.