Saturday, November 9, 2013

Our Home School Books

I've had a few people ask about what books we use in homeschool. So here we go.

We've been using Susan Wise Bauer's books for history; we are on the first book. It presents facts, dates, names, etc., but also includes stories to help the kids remember the important stuff. There are activities like Q&A, summaries, dictations, coloring pages, crosswords, maps, and tests. I use this with all the kids as it's divided by time period and not age or level. For Emma's tests, I read the test to her and record her answers, but she's almost a good enough reader that she could probably read most of the test herself.

Story of the World: History for the Classical Child

Grammar: We use her First Language Lessons. They are also easy to use and I've actually learned some things that I'd forgotten since I was a kid. We have levels 1 for Emma, 2 for Jeremy, and 3 for Megan.

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For Writing we use Bauer's Writing With Ease. I don't do this with Emma, for her, I write stories with her. Jeremy and Megan use levels 2 and 3, respectively. I really like these books. They have selections of classic literature for the kids to read and then I ask questions so see what they remember. Then they have to summarize (harder than it sounds) and write their summaries, dictations, or copywork.

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 I really, really like these books. They are easy for me to teach from and the kids actually really like the lessons (with the exception of Jeremy who would rather not have to write, but it's getting better).

Product DetailsFor Math we are using Saxson Math. I like the way the lessons are set up, easy to follow along, but I'll be honest, I don't "get" the Meeting Book. We have them, but I don't use them at all.I skip that part of each lesson. Emma uses the kindergarten Saxon Math book.

Jeremy is pretty much at a 3rd grade level in his math, so instead of making him go through 2nd grade math first, I had him skip to 3rd. This is fabulous because I am able to teach Jeremy and Megan together.

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 While I like these lessons, I think they move too slowly. I've had to skip lessons, especially in the kindergarten book. I should have just had Emma start with 1st grade math. Oh well.

To assist with their math and to give me a good idea of where they are since these move slower than what I'd like, I use an online program called  This website graphs where the kids are in their math skills and progressively gets harder as their skills improve. There is a learning curve if your kids aren't used to typing on the number pad section of a keyboard. For a while I would have Jeremy and Emma sit on my lap and have them tell me the answer to the problem on the screen and I would type in the answer. Now, Jeremy does it all on his own. I still do Emma's or I have Megan do it if I'm working with Jeremy.

Science. Oh, science. I bought a book called R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey. . It's only ok. Nothing great. It has some fun labs that the kids enjoy, but the book itself really isn't what I was looking for. We'll do whatever labs we feel like doing and then find something else for next year.

Product DetailsReading. For reading we just read. Anything and everything. Emma has flown through her "Red Books." She's moved on to the classic Dr. Seuss style books and even tries more difficult books. We go to the library a lot.

Megan never stops reading, so I know she's good.

Jeremy doesn't read on his own as much as Megan, but he does read a lot.

Product DetailsIn addition to letting them read what they pretty much want, I introduce books to them often and I take time to read to them every day. We are currently reading A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the 5th, The Austere Academy and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Usually I read a chapter or two of each book because they beg for more. Who am I to argue with reading "just one more chapter"?

We do some fun stuff for P.E. I told them when I was in elementary school for P.E. a student was often picked to lead. They'd get to decide what exercises and how many. My kids love this! I've had to put a cap on how many sit ups and push ups they call out, but usually they like to stay in the 20's. We've also done bike riding, playing at the park, swimming, yoga, and the Pinterest favorite: The Harry Potter Workout.

Occasionally I'll pull something off the internet that I saw on Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers and use it. Usually I do this with American History, Art, and Science. A friend in the Philippines put on her blog pictures of rice fields and pictures of the rice drying on the sidewalks and streets. This was perfect because we'd just learned about Ancient China and talked about how their crops were different from those in Egypt and Mesopotamia because China was able to grow rice and melons. Thanks to my friend's blog, my kids could see what rice fields looked like and what is done with the rice.

So this is what we do. I start the day off with a song, prayer, the pledge of allegiance, and a spiritual lesson (this week we are learning the Articles of Faith). Then since I have everyone I usually do one of our lessons that involves everyone, whether it's history, science, reading, or a special like art. Then I break them up and work with one kid at a time (unless I'm doing math and have both Megan and Jeremy) and give the kid(s) who aren't being worked with something specific to do. Emma usually works on handwriting, reading, her xtramath, or helps Lincoln with making patterns with our math blocks. Megan and Jeremy may be in charge of helping Emma or Lincoln, doing their xtramath, reading, writing, or I may have them study about a specific subject to share with everyone later. For example, Megan and Jeremy read about Halloween, Veterans Day, and tree leaves and shared what they learned with everyone.