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Summer Sale!

Summer is upon us, which means one thing to homechoolers – planning for the next school year! Isummer-sale-2014 don’t know about you, but I’ve been busy making lists of books and school supplies we’ll need for this fall.

I have also been hard at work the last several months, but finally our new Grade 7 curriculum is complete! A lot of blood, sweat and tears (and a fair amount of dark chocolate M&Ms) went into writing this instructor’s guide, and I’m so excited to send it out into the world.

With Grade 7 – Exploring Your World finished up and for sale, it seems like a good time for our  2014 Summer Sale! Starting today and through the end of July, you can take 15% off all our instructor guides and unit studies! Just use the code Summer14 at checkout. Easy peasy!

Have a fantastic summer everyone! And don’t forget to spread the word!

 

 

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About Build Your Library Curriculum

Build Your Library – Literature based homeschool curriculum - building young minds, one book at a time!

Have you been looking for a literature based homeschool curriculum that is secular? How about a way to incorporate narration, copywork, dictation and memory work into your child’s education? Or art study that ties into history? What about a secular science that is mostly literature based in the elementary years? Well, you have come to the right place! Welcome to Build Your Library Curriculum!

I am a homeschool mother, not unlike you. I spent years searching for a curriculum that fit my needs, and having to tweak each program to death to make it work for my family. Then one day, I realized it would be simpler to just write my own program. That is when Build Your Library was born. I thought I must not be the only one looking for a literature based program that was also secular. So I set to work to create a homeschool curriculum that would fit many needs.

I wanted a curriculum that was rich in great literature, not just old fashioned tomes, but modern children’s literature as well.  I wanted a curriculum that was history based but didn’t drown you in historical fiction. I wanted to make narration a priority, but in a way that was fun and easy. A curriculum that took passages from the books you and your child are reading and turned them into copywork in the elementary years and dictation at the middle school level.  I wanted to incorporate art study that was connected to history and included fun art projects. And I wanted to include science – literature based in the elementary years, and I use Elemental Science’s logic stage program in the middle school years.  It was a tall order – but our children are worth it.

I hope you will try out a program and join the Build Your Library family, – building young minds, one book at a time!

Current Full Grade Level Products Available for Purchase -
Kindergarten - Grade 1 - Grade 2Grade 3Grade 4Grade 5 - Grade 6 -
Grade 7

( Grade 8 coming 2015 )

Current Unit Studies – Supplemental Educational Products Available for Purchase -
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s StoneHistory of ThanksgivingA Jan Brett ChristmasThe HobbitDarwin and EvolutionSharks! - World War II

Other Educational Products -
Narration Cards
  Book of Centuries and Timeline Figures

 

Literature-Based Learning: Creating a Rhythm to your Days

556497_4942375873072_1107866722_nI don’t know about the rest of you, but lately, my brain has been in planning mode. Ordering material for the new school year, rearranging books on our shelves, making lists of school supplies we need to buy. It’s one of my favorite times of the year!

But today, I wanted to talk a bit about creating rhythm within your day. Especially when you are new to a literature-based lifestyle of learning, it can be tricky to figure out how to plan your day out. And when you look at the list of what you want to accomplish in your day: math, spelling, grammar, copywork, poetry, memory work, read aloud, history, art…well, you get the idea, it can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be!

Let’s walk through a typical day in my literature-based homeschool. During the school year, I try to enforce an early bedtime so that we can begin our day at a reasonable time – so my children are all up and sitting at the kitchen table ready for breakfast at about 8am. As I serve them their breakfast, I make myself a cup of tea and grab our current reading – I usually do poetry, tales or mythology over breakfast. As they eat, I read and then we discuss the reading. Sometimes it’s a quick narration but other mornings we follow rabbit trails or have deeper discussions. Then I send everyone to get dressed and we dive into the rest of our daily activities.

My high schooler is fairly independent. She joins us for read alouds, but otherwise, she’s doing her own thing. This school year she’ll be joining in with Grade 7 – Exploring Your World, with some added assignments and readings to make it more high school level. I check in with right after breakfast to discuss the day’s assignments, and we’ll talk off and on throughout the day if she needs anything or to discuss a lesson or a book she’s reading, but otherwise, she just takes her work to her room and gets it done.

397560_10202951460843368_6015888735180898877_nMeanwhile the twins are either practicing their musical instruments or doing math, so I sit down with my youngest and we read from her basket of books. We’ll be doing Kindergarten – Around the World this fall. Thus far, I usually pull out a few titles that I think she’ll enjoy or if she has a current interest (for a while it was bugs, then China, and lately it’s anything animal related). Sometimes she’ll be inspired to draw a picture about what we’ve been reading, but I don’t expect any output from her just yet. Mostly, we just read and talk about the story. Sometimes I’ll plan a fun art project or a simple science experiment, but mostly, she just listens to stories and plays. I like to keep it very relaxed and unschooly in the preschool years.

By this time the twins are ready to move on to the next thing, so I’ve put the week’s dictation on the board and we go through it together – the first day we look it over and make note of any words they need to practice spelling, any interesting punctuation, we might do a quick grammar study, and then they carefully copy it down. If there were words they needed to practice, they’ll copy them down 5 times each. This year we’ll be taking a break from formal grammar to really focus on writing.

I also like to have some sort of writing prompt on the whiteboard at least once a week – usually on Fridays – just something to stimulate creative writing. I really like the book Unjournaling: Daily Writing Exercises That Are Not Personal, Not Introspective, Not Boring!. Even the high schooler joins in for this – they’re usually really interesting, thought provoking or silly – nothing overly personal (just try to get my boys to write about their feelings – it’s not going to work!).

When they’ve finished this, I send them to do their silent reading and if it’s a narration day (I assign these 3 days out of the week), they’ll choose a narration card and do the assignment. These are almost always done in writing at their age, and it serves as their composition.

By now, it’s around 11am and if the weather is nice, I send them out to get a bit of exercise or 1235004_10201479964536880_1408701176_ncomplete a nature study assignment. When they come in, its lunch time and we dive into our current read aloud. This is also when we go over memory work – we’ll take turns around the table and everyone gets a chance to practice. Over the summer, we’ve been reading through The The Hunger Games Trilogy.

After lunch, we’ll do the day’s history or geography assignment, and or science lesson. This is what I consider to be the fun part of our day. We’ll discuss the reading, complete any activity pages, look at our giant wall map and talk about where things were happening in our lessons, look up links from our reading, work on a research project, do an experiment, write a short report, or add to our timeline. We don’t do all of these things every day – some days we only read a chapter from our spine book and discuss the reading. Some days we might complete mapwork, timeline work and a science experiment. If it’s an art day, we’ll complete an art project here as well. This is really the meat of our days – it takes us anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours.

1236578_10201439873934640_1191007018_nAfter this, we’ve finished our school day and the kids are free to scatter. Some days we’re done by 1pm, others it’s more like 3. But it doesn’t feel like we’ve been grueling away for hours and hours. It’s actually pretty relaxed. We still get a lot accomplished! And there is a lot of flexibility here – this is an example of an average day, so obviously some days will look quite different. Some days we just read and do math and call it good, some days we are out of the house for other activities so all that gets done is math and we might double up on reading the next day. Some days I might call a ‘fun’ day and we just do art projects, read, watch a movie or play board games or take a nature walk. It’s all about rhythm and finding the flow that fits your family best.

1236451_10201442821128318_947991309_nThe rest of our day is open to us – the children are free to work on their personal side projects (currently they’re working on writing/drawing their own Manga), or just play; I can finish up housework, work on lesson plans or other BYL related work, sneak in some extra personal reading time and whatnot before I have to cook dinner. Over dinner, their father will ask them to tell something they learned that day. Everyone is expected to tell something different and add to the discussion. It’s a fun way to sneak in a narration cause everyone wants to tell something interesting.

So that’s one example of a literature-based homeschooling day. Of course, yours may look completely different – we all want to see what other homeschool families are doing, assuming someone else has figured out the best way. But I think we’re all pretty similar in the end – just moms doing our best to educate our children at home.

So how does your day flow? Let me know in the comments – I love to hear how other people schedule their day!

Memorial Day Unit Study Givaway!

21482giveawayIn honor of Memorial Day, and to celebrate the completion of the World War II unit study, I’m giving away a free unit study to three lucky winners! If you win, you can choose any Build Your Library Unit Study you’d like!

My unit studies are all literature-based, and can take anywhere from 3 – 9 weeks to complete. Each unit is self-contained and includes a reading schedule, activity pages, vocabulary words, research and writing projects and more. My units are great for multi-level teaching as well as being perfect for summer learning. I love teaching with unit studies – some of our fondest homeschooling memories were when we delved wholeheartedly into one topic – whether it was a literary unit like the Hobbit unit study or a historic study like the World War II unit.

The giveaway will run from Thursday, May 22 – Monday May 26. I’ll announce the winners on Tuesday (May 27) morning. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

New Unit Study: World War II

Teaching World War II can be intense. There is an overwhelming amount of material to cover! From world-war-ii-special-512the European war, to the Pacific Theater to the American Home Front; the Holocaust and Japanese Internment camps, Axis and Allies, and D-Day, you could easily spend an entire year just covering World War 2. There are literally hundreds of children’s books written about this time period!

Thankfully, I’ve done the hard work for you. I’ve created this 9 week unit study, covering all of those topics and more. World War II: The Definitive Visual History will serve as your spine, introducing your child to bigger-than-life personalities on both sides of the conflict. They’ll learn about the events leading up to the war, the rise of Adolf Hitler and the axis powers, the American home front, the war in the Pacific, the Holocaust, espionage, resistance, the Nuremberg trials and more.

I’ve also include a literature component to breathe life into your studies. As a family, you’ll meet Liesel Meminger, a poor orphan living under the Nazi regime who fights back in an unlikely way in the The Book Thief. You’ll get swept away in time with Hannah, time traveling to the past as her family is arrested and sent to a concentration camp in The Devil’s Arithmetic (Puffin Modern Classics). You’ll live in Japanese-occupied Korea at the end of the war experiencing all of the horrors and triumphs of the aftermath of war in Year of Impossible Goodbyes.

I also include 9 weeks’ worth of readers for your child as well as a set of narration cards. They’ll read about life in Nazi-occupied Europe, find out what it was like to be a soldier caught behind enemy lines and experience life in the Japanese internment camps as well as in a concentration camp (high school only). Some of the books are only for middle grades, and some only for high school. The middle grade only books scheduled are: Under a War-Torn Sky and The House of Sixty Fathers. The high school level readers are: Code Name Verity, Farewell to Manzanar and Night.

Because of the intensity of the subject matter, this unit is suitable for middle grades – high school. The lesson plans are 98 pages, and include a reading schedule, narration cards, a literature study of 3 novels, dictation passages, 52 vocabulary words, web resources, map work, writing assignments, projects, a list of optional movies and documentaries, and an end of unit Jeopardy-style trivia game.

You can purchase all of the required books through our Build Your Library Amazon Bookstore.

Here are some samples of the activity pages:

 

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$14.99 – Purchase the World War II Unit Study – Special Introductory Price – $9.99

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** Our PayPal e-Junkie powered shopping cart will process your order. All our digital programs are in PDF form. They cannot be returned or refunded. Once you place your order, you will receive a download link to your items.

As a reminder, if you are going to purchase books we would greatly appreciate the use of our provided Amazon Links or our Amazon Store! Thanks!

 

 

Mother’s Day Sale

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As a special Mother’s Day gift from me to you – I’m having a sale today! Treat yourself to next year’s curriculum, or a fun unit study to play with over the summer!

Just use the code: Mother at check out to take 15% off of your order.

Happy Mother’s Day from Build Your Library!

 

Children’s Books that Celebrate Moms

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day – so what better way to celebrate than by reading some sweet stories with your little ones. Here are some lovely books that showcase mothers. So curl up with your babies and enjoy some of these favorites:

Love You Forever – Both sweet and creepy, this book always brings a tear to my eyes. A mother sings to her son at different stages of his life:

“I’ll love you forever
I’ll like you for always
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.”

I Love You, Stinky Face – This is my youngest daughter’s current favorite bedtime story. A little boy wonders if his mother will still love him if he’s a stinky skunk or a bug eating alien, and various other frightful beings. His loving mother always has an answer to his questions, eventually lulling him to sleep with her promises to love him no matter what. A very sweet, sometimes funny story.

My Monster Mama Loves Me So – This is another family favorite, our copy is in tatters. A rhyming story about a monster and his mom and all the ways in which she shows her love. The pictures are vivid and full of little things to discover.

I Love You the Purplest – This story gives a beautiful answer to the question, “Who do you love more?” Beautiful watercolor illustrations and a nature theme, this book just makes you feel happy.

Hedgie’s Surprise – This is one of our favorite Jan Brett stories. All Hen wants is a brood of chicks so she can be a mother. Alas, every morning the Tomten comes and takes away her egg for breakfast. She and Hedgie hatch a plan to stop the Tomten, but will it work? Gorgeous illustrations, a funny story and an adorable hedgie…what’s to love?

M.O.M. (Mom Operating Manual) – While this is a picture book, it’s really more for moms than it is for children. Written to the child, it tells you everything you need to know to keep your mom running at peak performance. Hilarious and sweet, this is a great book to read on a day when you just need a pick-me-up.

Ramona and Her Mother (Ramona Quimby) – My oldest daughter went through a Ramona phase when she was younger, and we both have fond memories of this book. What’s not to love about Ramona? She’s every-girl, sometimes silly, full of curiosity and mischief. This makes a great first chapter book read aloud.

Happy Mother’s Day ladies! I hope you all have a relaxing, lovely day!

Educational Problems: The Habit of Reading

The most common and the monstrous defect in the education of the day is that children fail to acquire the habit of reading. ~ Charlotte Mason

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The most important thing we can do for our children is to instill the habit of reading within them. Reading is the foundation on which their entire education is built. From a young age, we need to not only teach them how to read, but how to LOVE to read. There is a world of words out there, just waiting to be discovered. We just need to show our children how to find it.

How do you build a habit of reading?

This starts at infancy. From birth, we can read to our children. Treat books with respect, make 230079_1967333258866_696346_nspace in your home for them to live. Fill your home with quality books, and take time each day to read them with your child. If you’re new to reading aloud, start with 20 minutes a day. Read 2 or 3 picture books at bedtime. Later, add in another read aloud time during the day, maybe after lunch.

When your child has learned to read to themselves, it’s easy to want to drop that read aloud time. Don’t! Reading aloud is such an important part of their education. It shouldn’t stop just because they are capable of reading on their own. Continue your regular read aloud times, but add in another “quiet reading” time for them to read on their own. During this quiet reading time, both you and your child should be reading something. In order to build the habit of reading in our children, we have to first build the habit of reading in ourselves. It doesn’t matter if you are reading Charles Dickens or James Patterson, just read something. Let them see that you think reading is important and worthy of your time. If you treat reading as a chore – something that must be gotten through – your child will come to regard reading as something to check off the to-do list. It’s a sad fact that many people grow up despising reading, and never reading another book once they’re finished with school.

“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” ~ W. Somerset Maugham

What if your child already sees reading as a tedious chore?

Sometimes, despite our good intentions, our children just don’t enjoy reading. Maybe they’ve been in school and had dull books forced on them, or their teachers pushed literary analysis too early. Maybe you did everything right and they still just don’t enjoy it. What then?

Choose the most interesting, fun, exciting books you can find. I spent a year reading aloud all of the Harry Potter books with my twins. I could have made them read them on their own – they are capable. But, they would have rather just watched the movies and been done with it. I convinced them that the books were a much better experience, so we read them together. It was the first time they ever begged me to keep reading, and I relished it.

Talk to your child and find out what their passions are. What do they get excited about? Find books to match their interests. If they’re interested in video games, get them a subscription to a gamer magazine. Find them game manuals to read. Introduce them to comics, mythology, and fantasy.

One of my twins around the age of 4 happily reading about the Solar System in a laundry basket.

One of my twins around the age of 4 happily reading about the Solar System in a laundry basket.

Make regular trips to your local library. Don’t force them to check out anything specific. Just let them browse. I like to play a game with my daughter when she gets stuck. We go in the middle of an aisle, she closes her eyes and spins around 3 times, then puts out her hand. Whatever book she touches, she has to check out. Sometimes it’s a dud, sometimes it’s a books she’s already read, but occasionally, she finds something wonderful. If they’ve been thinking about a topic or immersed in a particular subject lately, guide them to the section of the library where they might find more information. One of my children spent one summer reading every single book about dinosaurs he could find in our library.

Make reading times special. Once you’ve chosen books to read, make reading them a special experience. Bake cookies, make some hot chocolate, snuggle up together and enjoy the story. Create an atmosphere in which reading becomes a memorable part of your day. Something you all look forward to when you wake up in the morning.

The one thing you absolutely should not do, especially if your child already dislikes reading, is make reading into school work. Do not give them writing assignments, ask too many questions, or require anything but their attention. There is time for all of that later. If they want to write about a book, that’s fantastic. But making your reluctant reader write about a book is a sure fire way to kill the love of reading. Never make it work. Just read and enjoy. Talk about what you like about the story, talk about the choices the characters are making, talk about what you think might happen next, but that’s all. Keep it fun and casual. Anything more is overkill.

 “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies,” said Jojen. “The man who never reads lives only one.” ~ George R.R. Martin

If you can instill the habit of reading in your child, they can, and will, succeed in life. They’ll be able to learn anything their heart desires, because they’ll know how to find the information. Reading will open doors and worlds and inspire them to join into the Great Conversation and lead to a lifetime of learning.

 

Homeschooling: A Beautiful Education

When you first began homeschooling, you probably had no idea what you were doing.

My oldest at 4 on our first day of school.

My oldest at 4 on our first day of school.

Maybe you pulled your child out of a bad school situation, or maybe you had been planning on homeschooling since their birth. Either way, you can’t know what homeschooling is like until you’re in the midst of it. And often, while you are in the middle of things, it’s hard to know if what you are doing is actually working.You just have to have confidence that what you’re doing is going to pay off in the end, even though it can be nerve wracking to live through.

Personally, I like to have a big picture in mind. I like to know that what I’m doing is going to work out in the long run. But unfortunately with homeschooling, you can’t always follow a precise formula and get perfect results. Life just doesn’t work that way. Every child is different, and what works well with one, may result in disaster for another.

That’s why it’s important to have a philosophy – to paint that big picture for your family. What do you consider the most important thing? When you picture your child’s education as a whole – what do you want it too look like? It doesn’t have to follow any one method or philosophy, as long as it works well for your family. I love a lot of things about Charlotte Mason, but I also love a lot of things about Classical homeschooling, Montessori, and even unschooling.  I take what I liked from all of those things and use them to create my own family philosophy – what I like to think of as a beautiful education.

644721_10200612080120312_1409629176_nAnother thing that is important to consider is your child’s strengths. My oldest daughter is a lot like me – literature and history minded. She loves to read and aspires to be a writer. She’ll spend hours at a time typing away at her laptop working on her latest story and is our resident mythologist. I can basically hand her a book list and let her go, and she’s happy as a clam.

My twin boys are the total opposite. They are very good at math and science, but also very artistic. They are artists and musicians, so that is where I put a lot of focus for them. I want them to be literate too, so I try and choose literature that I think will inspire them, but I can’t use the same materials with them as I did with my daughter. It would be a disaster if I did. They spend hours everyday drawing and practicing their instruments, so I try to work art and music into their school day as much as possible.

My youngest daughter is a ball of raw energy – just constantly in motion. She loves to be outdoors and in the dirt, and she loves to do whatever her brothers are doing. She too, loves music and art, and can spend hours drawing some pretty intricate pictures.

So, how do I homeschool my individual children who are so different, without losing my mind?

This is where that big picture plan comes into play. I know that I want my children to be well rounded, to be well read and well spoken, and to be able to form their own thoughts and opinions. I can choose those materials that will support that. I want to give them a beautiful homeschool education, filled with ideas and heroes and time to just stew in their own thoughts. I also want to have family unity, so I try to do as much as I can with all of them together as possible.

You may be wondering what that looks like, on a day-to-day basis. This is just an example of an average day – with the caveat that there is no such thing as an average day. Everyday is different, but I try to keep to a certain rhythm, so that every day has a similar flow. I find we’re all happier when we know what to expect.

While the children are eating their breakfast, I quickly go over the day with them – remind them of anything different that might be happening, music lessons, soccer games, dentist appointments, etc. Then we do our morning time – we go over memory work, and I read aloud whatever our current book happens to be.

Then the children go upstairs and get dressed and do their morning chores while I clean 1557609_10202184721893876_1309063355_nup from breakfast. The twins rotate music practice – they do an hour of guitar or drums first thing, and the other does his math and copywork. Sometimes I’ll put a freewrite on the board, something creative and thought or humor provoking like “Describe your favorite meal without telling what it is and the rest of us will try to figure it out.” or “Make this a more interesting sentence: I went to the store and bought a toy.” These are more geared towards the twins, but my oldest will sometimes do them for fun as well.

Meanwhile, I give my oldest daughter her checklist (we use Scholaric for planning our daily schedules and record-keeping) and we discuss what she needs to accomplish. She’s fairly independent at this point, but I check in with her throughout the day just to make sure she’s on task and answer any questions she might have. I also take this time to read a few picture books with my youngest. Sometimes I’ll take it further with her and we’ll do an art project to go along with the reading, but most days, it’s just reading.

When the boys have finished music practice, math and writing, we’ll have a spelling lesson. They are weak spellers, so we’ve been working through the Sequential Spelling books. If it’s a dictation day, this is when we’ll complete their dictation lesson. Then we read our history reading for the day and complete any writing or project that might go along with that.

DSCN4093If the weather is nice, this is the point in our day where we might get outside for some fresh air and exercise, or do a bit of nature study. We have done a wide variety of activities over the years for nature study. Sometimes we’ll focus on one particular tree in the yard (each child will choose one tree) and they’ll study its change over the seasons. One year we focused on birds, another on bugs. Sometimes we’ll just look for things that strike our fancy and they might complete an entry in their nature journals.

Around an hour later, it’s time for lunch. This is where I like to sneak in some fine arts – sometimes I’ll read poetry, or we’ll do artist study and I’ll bring my laptop to the table so we can look at artwork and talk about our favorite pieces, or maybe I’ll just play some classical music (or any particular music that I want them to hear – I’ve been known to play Foo Fighters, The Doors or Jimi Hendrix or even Broadway show-tunes just to expose them to what we consider great music.)

After lunch, if it’s a science day, I’ll do a science lesson with the boys. Or we might do

Dissecting a shark - cause sharks are way cooler than frogs. ;)

Dissecting a shark – cause sharks are way cooler than frogs. ;)

an art project. They rotate music practice again – while one is practicing, the other is doing their independent reading and narration work. I’ll check in with my oldest, and see if she need any help or has any questions. We’ll go over assignments, discuss what she’s reading, etc. We aim to have our school-day complete by 1 pm. Sometimes, for my high schooler, it’s more like 2 pm, depending on the day’s workload.

397560_10202951460843368_6015888735180898877_nThen the kids have the rest of the day to just be. They might go outside and ride bikes or play with neighborhood friends or work on a project, or just sit and zone out. I don’t do much, academically with my youngest yet – she’s just turned 5, but she spends much of her day drawing pictures, practicing writing letters on the white board, or playing with manipulatives. She recently discovered my stash of pattern blocks which are her current favorite.

And that’s basically it. We read, we talk, we write, we make music and art, and we learn together. It get’s a bit more structured in the high school years, but only a little. The philosophy stays the same.

So when you feel the doubt creep in, or the tyranny of the urgent threatens to take over your day and you feel like what you’re doing isn’t enough, remember this: no one loves your child like you. No one has their best interest at heart more than you. So take a deep breath, remember that the big picture you painted of that beautiful education is possible, and know that you will be successful.

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If you are looking for a structured literature based, secular homeschool curriculum, I hope you will try out one our our programs and join the Build Your Library family, – building young minds, one book at a time!

Current Full Grade Level Products Available for Purchase – KindergartenGrade 1Grade 2Grade 3Grade 4Grade 5Grade 6

For Some Additional Educational Topics, Check Out Our Unit Studies Available for PurchaseHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s StoneHistory of ThanksgivingA Jan Brett ChristmasThe HobbitDarwin and EvolutionSharks!

Grade 2 Curriculum Updates

I recently updated the Grade 2 – The Medieval World lesson plans, so to make it easier for those of A-4izHJWg35u67YboAU3dM7r4nA8l8cHpqfizJL3I93Xj-upQld-RA_Qb8dHQkFJHw=w1118-h462you who had already been using the older plans, here’s a list of the updates:

  • Pg. 5 – You now have a list of all the documentaries/movies listed throughout the lesson plans, along with which week you will need them.
  • Pg. 15 – Science – new experiment
  • Pg. 20 – Science – optional book added
  • Pg. 26 – Science – new activity
  • Pg. 32 – Science – new website listed
  • Pg. 36 – Science – new activity
  • Pg. 48 – Science – writing activity
  • Pg. 49 – Science – new website listed
  • Pg. 50 – Science – new activity
  • Pg. 54 – Science – sketching activity
  • Pg. 58 – Science – new experiment
  • Pg. 86 – Science – new experiment (new activity page – pg. 268)
  • Pg.96 – Science – new activity (new activity page – pg. 270)
  • Pg. 98 – Science – optional book
  • Pg. 100 – Science – new activity (new activity page – pg. 271)
  • Pg. 140 – Science – optional book
  • Pg. 150 – Science – optional book
  • Pg. 167 – Science – optional book
  • Pg. 171 – Science – optional book
  • Pg. 173 – Science – optional book
  • Pg. 175 – Science – optional book
  • Pg. 177 – Science – optional book
  • Pg. 179 – Science – optional book
  • Pg. 209 – History – optional book
  • Pg. 211 – Science – optional book
  • Pg. 246 – updated history activity page

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Purchase our Second Grade – The Medieval World curriculum and get started on your journey today!

You and your child will embark on a journey through the Medieval Era using Story of the World Volume 2 as your spine. You and your child will learn about knights and castles, the rise of Islam in the Middle East, the Crusades, Vikings, battles and more!

Our 286 page lesson plans include a daily and weekly schedule for 36 weeks of study, reading list, narration cards, vocabulary words, copywork passages, poetry memorization, timeline figures, map work, research projects, notebook pages, science and art projects.

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The Most Important Thing – Reading

When I first began homeschooling, I fell in love with the idea of a book based education. I DSC04267daydreamed about reading aloud beautiful literature to my serene children, as they snuggled close to me on the couch, their little eyes focused on me with rapt attention as I read. But the reality was something quite different.

I had always read to my children at bedtime, but it wasn’t until I began homeschooling in earnest that I added in a daytime story session. At that time, my oldest was 4 and I had one year old twin boys. That quiet snuggling time only happened if I planned our reading sessions around their naps. Otherwise it was chaos.

Things plugged along pretty smoothly, and I got through a hefty stack of books with my daughter. I was patting myself on the back when suddenly, the twins gave up their afternoon nap. I suddenly had no quiet moment in my day where I could continue our peaceful reading time. I would attempt to include them, but they were physically incapable of sitting still for longer than 10 seconds and they were SO LOUD. We went from reading a chapter book every other week to one each month, if we were lucky. I felt defeated by these little balls of energy. I began to question if it was worth the trouble to even try reading aloud.

230079_1967333258866_696346_nThat was when I had my epiphany. As I contemplated the future of our little homeschool, I realized that if my end goal was to have well read children who loved the written word and who loved to learn, then I had to find a way to prioritize reading aloud. It was literally the most important thing I could do for them. 

Reading aloud has numerous benefits, but for me, the biggest was giving my children a love of reading. I wanted them to appreciate books, to see them as the ultimate form of entertainment as well as a place to seek knowledge. Reading is powerful, and I wanted to give them that power. But in those early days, it was hard. How do I read aloud when they won’t sit still? When they interrupt every other sentence to ask a question? When the constant barrage of questions doesn’t even have anything to do with what we’re reading? When they argue for 30 minutes over which spot on the couch is “their spot?” How was I supposed to create this environment where we could read great books and discuss them, and most importantly THINK about all of those beautiful ideas when it felt like I was sitting in the middle of a three-ring circus?

First – I needed to realize that at that point in time, we weren’t going to be reading in solid hour long 28761_1407830191639_939050_nchunks. I set aside different times throughout the day that would be devoted to reading. I discovered that while they were sitting at the table eating, I could read for 15 minutes without anyone running around the room or arguing over where to sit. So I read poetry over breakfast and a chapter from our read aloud at lunch. I would let them run around outside for an hour and tire them out, and then we’d snuggle on the couch with a stack of picture books. On rainy days when everyone is a bit wired, I’d give them paper and crayons and let them draw while I read. Or I’d make hot chocolate and cinnamon toast and we’d have a story time tea party.

1557522_10202304540750770_392068234_nSecond, and I think this is nearly as important as reading aloud, I needed them to see me reading for pleasure as well as for educational purposes. Mothering is all about imitation, and I wanted them to imitate my love of reading. If they see that I’m always on the computer checking Facebook or grabbing my phone to “just check in for a minute” all day long, they’ll learn to value time wasted on the internet. But if they see me spending my free moments reading a book, researching for our spring garden, or studying a topic that interests me, they’ll learn that reading is a pastime worth pursuing. It’s music to my ears when my children come to me with a question and then ask if we can go to the library to find a book about it. Or when my daughter comes running down the stairs clutching a book to her chest and telling me, “you HAVE to read this book, Mama!” That’s when I know that I’m on the right path.

Difficulties come up along the way, but if you keep your focus on the end goal, and simplify your day when necessary, the important things can and will get done. School really can consist of reading beautiful books and talking about the big ideas contained within. It really is enough. Literature can be the focus of your studies. You may never have that daydream with the billowing white curtains and the calm, serene children silently sitting while you read for hours, but you will give them the most important gift – the gift of literature, a thirst for knowledge, and most importantly, the love of learning.