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 4 – Grade 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 IIPrehistory

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


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Educational Gift Ideas – Cook Family Favorites

2014giftguideThis is going to be the final post in the Educational Gifts series, but if you are looking for some last minute gift ideas, there is still plenty of time to shop.

I’ve had a lot of fun sharing some great ideas for holiday gifts. Thus far, I’ve shared ideas for language arts, science, math, history and geography, and art inspired gifts. Today, I’d like to share some of my family’s particular favorites.

I asked my children to come up with a list of some of their favorite things with the caveat that it couldn’t be a video game. Here is what they came up with:

Board Games:

10846129_10204619322218860_7503817151783456401_nMy kids LOVE board games. We usually have a weekly game night and we often will spend weekend evenings and holidays and vacation playing extended rounds of our favorites.

Apples To Apples – this is probably our go to all time favorite game. It says ages 12+ on the box, but as soon as your child can read fluently, they are ready to play.

Clue Board Game – this is another game that we’ve been playing frequently this year. We’re big fans of games that require creative thinking and logic.

Set: The Family Game of Visual Perception – We went through a phase a few years back of playing set on an almost daily basis. One of my twins is especially good at it. It’s very challenging, but also really fun. Especially when you’re in competition mode.

Bubble Talk Card Game – Similar to Apples to Apples, but instead, you have a silly picture and everyone has to come up with a caption to go along with it. This game is hilarious. You can make it even sillier by writing your own captions. Be prepared to take frequent giggle-breaks.

Movies and DVDs

The Leapfrog Series: LeapFrog: Letter FactoryLeapFrog: Talking Words Factory, LeapFrog: Learn to Read at the Storybook Factory, and  LeapFrog: Word Caper – I first got these when my twins were small, and they watched these dvds over and over. Last year I started playing them for my youngest and she loves her “Talking Frog Guys.” I use these as a fun way to reinforce phonics skills.

The Magic School Bus: The Complete Series – There was a time, when my kids were small, that Magic School Bus was the basis for our science “curriculum.” We’d watch whatever episode came on tv that day, then later we might find a book at the library or in our home library and learn a bit more. I can’t say enough great things about The Magic School Bus – Mrs. Frizzle is one of our favorite teachers.

Schoolhouse Rock! – Ok, I’ll admit that this is probably more one of my husband and I’s favorites, but on occasion, my kids have enjoyed it. I like to put on specific videos to reinforce something we’re learning about.

The Scolastic Video Collection dvds are also fantastic. It’s essentially an animated storybook – the words and illustrations are all taken directly from the text and they are very well done. Some of our personal favorites are:
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom… and More Fun with Letters and Numbers
Chrysanthemum and More Kevin Henkes Stories
Where the Wild Things Are and Other Maurice Sendak Stories
Make Way for Ducklings … and More Delightful Duck Stories


10428510_10203369795381470_6656857038119656891_nMy older kids have gotten really into manga and anime over the last couple of years and one of my twins is very artistic. Here are some of his particular favorites:

Mastering Manga with Mark Crilley: 30 drawing lessons from the creator of Akiko – he carries this book around like it’s his bible. I’ve really seen his art work improve since he got this book for Christmas a year ago.  There is also a sequel (Mastering Manga 2: Level Up with Mark Crilley) which he may or may not be receiving this Christmas. ;)

He also really likes these pencils: Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Colored Pencil, Set of 23 Assorted Manga Colors and markers: Prismacolor Premier Double-Ended Art Markers, Set of 12 Assorted Manga Colors, though he’s still getting comfortable with using them.

Misc. Toys

2014-12-15 14.11.49Pokemon Trading Card Game: Legends of Justice Box – A few years back, my kids were introduced to Pokemon. They spent hours upon hours setting up their decks, playing against each other, playing with other kids at a local game shop…it was almost an obsession. It’s fizzled out some, but they still play and collect cards. I think this was the gateway into Japanese anime/manga that all three of them are really into now. This also led them to spend the last year or two creating their own game that they named Maiti-Ju (Mighty Beasts) that works fairly similarly to Pokemon. They and some of the neighbor children have spent hours working out the rules, different elements, naming the creatures, creating the cards, etc.

Safari Ltd Wild TOOB – really, any of the TOOBs are awesome. My kids love setting up all kinds of scenes with these, they are great for dioramas and such, but also just to play. My youngest loves anything small and she likes to just carry these around with her. It’s not strange to check her pockets and find 3-4 little animals tucked away in there.


Of course, I have to mention some of our favorite books – these are “just for fun” books that my kids love.

20140812_111211Elephant and Piggie – these are just the best little books. We started reading these when one of my twins needed more reading practice but was tired of the same old readers. He fell in love with these books and now my youngest adores them as well. The best thing, we all love them. Mo Willems is a genius. He can create hilarious stories with just the illustrations and a few words. Some of our favorites (though they are ALL fantastic!):

Should I Share My Ice Cream?
We Are in a Book!
There Is a Bird On Your Head!
Elephants Cannot Dance!

For the older crowd:

Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7)

Percy Jackson and the Olympians 5 Book Paperback Boxed Set

Guardians of Ga’hoole Boxed Set, Books 1 – 6

The Hunger Games Box Set: Foil Edition

The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings

I’ve had a lot of fun writing this series – I hope that it has been helpful to you this holiday season!

Happy Holidays!


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Educational Gift Ideas – Art Edition

2014giftguideWe’ve been exploring ideas for educational gifts for the holidays. I’ve already shared ideas for language arts, science, history/geography and math themed gifts. Today, I’m going to share some ideas for art inspired gifts.

This is actually a pretty easy category, for the most part. What kid doesn’t love getting new crayons, color pencils or paints? Here are some of our favorite art related gift ideas.

1660285_10202597794721936_1342060621_nFirst up – art supplies. You can’t make great art without the best equipment. We really love Prismacolor Colored Pencils (12). These are really good quality colored pencils – perfect for art projects and school assignments. They are a little pricey, but the quality is really fantastic and if well cared for, they last a long time. You can also get them in a 24 Pack, 48 Pack, 72 Pack, and even a 132 Pack. I like that they come in a tin container – it really helps to keep them in good condition.

If you want really good quality crayons, then you might want Stockmar Beeswax Block Crayons. These are virtually indestructible, have very bright colors and blend really well together. I highly recommend the block style for very young children (though older children will like them as well – especially for coloring in large spaces like the sky or grass.) They also come as Stick Crayons, though I find that the stick version isn’t as durable as the blocks.

My kids have never been big into painting or sculpting, but if you children are, then you can’t go wrong with Sculpey Clay and Reeves Water Color Set. These are both top quality products that will give your children great results.

20141209_110347My children LOVE how-to-draw books. We have probably a dozen of them, at least. One of our favorites are Ralph Masiello’s Drawing Books. He has several different books, everything from Ancient Egypt to Fairies to holiday themed books. His instructions are clear and easy to follow, the books are full of interesting pictures and they can be great springboards to learning all sorts of neat things, from bugs to dinosaurs to ocean life.

Klutz makes many fun crafting kits for kids that we have enjoyed over the years. I asked my daughter to recall some of her favorites, and she would recommend Lettering: in Crazy Cool Quirky Style, Fingerprint Fabulous: Create Sweet and Sparkly Thumbprint Art , Stencil Art, and Brilliant Bead Rings . There are so many other kits, though, there is literally something for everyone.

856218_10202153792582160_61525432_oMy youngest loves our dry erase board. I think it started because she wanted to be part of “school” but it seems to have stuck over the years. So I got her one of her very own. There’s something exciting for children about being able to draw with markers and then erase and start over again. If your child loves this too, then consider getting them a Crayola Dry Erase Board Set. It comes with a board, markers and an erasing mitt.

She also really loves her Fisher-Price Doodle Pro – this is another family favorite. Maybe it’s because my kids love to draw, but we’ve been using the Doodle Pro for many years. These are great for practicing letters and numbers too, and fantastic for keeping children busy on long car rides.

I have one more post for this series – Cook family favorites – and then we’ll wrap the Educational Gifts series. I hope that I’ve been able to give you some creative gift ideas for your children!

Happy Holidays!




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Educational Gift Ideas – Math Edition

2014giftguideThis is the fourth post in the Educational Gifts series – Over the last few weeks I’ve shared ideas for  Language Arts, Science and History/Geography. Today I want to share some fun ideas for Math inspired gifts.

One of my homeschooling goals is to show my children that learning isn’t about “school.” Learning is life. One of the ways I do that is to strew fascinating, fun and educational books, toys, games, etc. in their path.

Math is one of those subjects that you either love or hate, but even if your child dislikes it, there are many fun ways to play with numbers.

Want a fun way to work on math facts? Check out the Educational Insights Mathshark. Even the name sounds fun. It resembles a handheld gaming device, but it’s essentially an electronic flash card set. It also works as a calculator.

There are lots of really fun math manipulatives out there. I love to find manipulatives that have my children learning concepts and being creative without even realizing they are “doing math.”

397560_10202951460843368_6015888735180898877_nOne of my children’s all time favorites are Plastic Pattern Blocks . I’ve bought a few sets over the years and so now we have a huge bucket of them. To their mind, they’re just playing with blocks, making pictures and designs. But they’ve learned shape recognition, fine motor skills, patterns, fractions, geometry, and even art. Combine them with these Learning Resources Pattern Block Design Cards for even more puzzle and design options.

Another great manipulative is Unifix Cubes. These offer another opportunity for open ended learning. They come with an activity book to get you started, but they cover a fairly wide range of mathematical learning.

2014-12-03 14.07.12There are also some really fun math games out there that you can play as a family. One of our favorites is Smath. It’s like scrabble but with numbers and instead of making words, you make math sentences. I like that you can customize it to your child by either focusing on only addition or subtraction, for instance.

Another favorite is Totally Tut Math Operations Game, I mean how can you go wrong with a game that combines Ancient Egypt and math operations?

And of course, there’s the classics, like Monopoly, Uno Card Game, Chutes and Ladders and Connect 4 Game.

Are you looking for a toy, rather than a game? You should consider getting a set of WEDGiTS . These are probably one of the toys that are the most played with in our house. We first encountered them when visiting family, and we came home and immediately bought a set. Why? Because these are really fun, not just for the kids, but for everyone. You can create elaborate 3-D sculptures, connecting the blocks in a multitude of ways. While these aren’t specifically “math,” they are great for building fine motor skills, for teaching spacial reasoning, talking about different patterns and shapes, counting, and just so much fun. Like the pattern blocks, you can also purchase a set of Wedgit Starter Cards to give you even more ideas for structure and patterns.

We’re almost finished with this series! Next up I’ll cover art and then the final post will be Cook Family Favorites, so stay tuned!

Happy Holidays!



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Educational Gift Ideas – History/Geography Edition

2014giftguideThis is the third article in the Educational Gift Ideas series – we’ve already talked about Language Arts and Science gift ideas. Today, I want to share some great History and Geography related gift ideas.

Typically, this is a rather bookish subject, but there are some great games and toys that can round out your children’s studies while adding in an element of fun.

556497_4942375873072_1107866722_nFirst up – globes. There are quite a few different types of globes to choose from. You can get a simple 5″ Desktop Globe or an illuminated globe (which works great as a night-light as well) like this one: Orion Relief Globe – Illuminated . Then you can also find the electronic globes like the Geosafari Talking Globe, that have quizzes and such. These can be a lot of fun for your geography buff.

Geosafari also has an Educational Insights Geosafari Laptop, with quizzes on a variety of topics, many of which are based on geography and history. This works best for children who are already reading, as they’ll need to be able to read the questions themselves.

Looking for some really fun games that will do double duty educating and entertaining your children? Brainbox All Around The World will fit the bill. This is a really fun concentration style game. You can play this as a solitaire game or with two or more players. The idea is to study the card for 10 seconds (or longer – you can pick your own time-frame) and then flip it over and see how many questions on the back of the card you can answer. There is also a history version: BrainBox for Kids – World History Card Game

GeoDice: Educational Geography Board Game is another really fun way to sneak in some geography review. As is The Scrambled States of America Game (Be sure to also get the book The Scrambled States of America!)

If you’ve never seen Liberty’s Kids – The Complete Series, then you are in for a treat. These fun cartoons bring the Revolutionary War to life and make it relevant and interesting. My kids adored this show when they were younger, and then retained a lot of information later on.

Is your child into puzzles? GeoPuzzle World – Educational Geography Jigsaw Puzzle is a fantastic reviewing tool. They have a world map puzzle as well as individual continents. They are challenging, as most of the puzzle pieces are shaped like the individual countries, which really aids in learning retention.

Looking for a fun supplement to your history lessons? Horrible Histories: Measly Middle Ages and the rest of the Horrible History titles are so much fun. These books can draw in even the most reluctant historians.  These books cover a huge range of topics, from the Greeks and Romans, to World War II, to specific countries. There’s something there for everyone. (These are best for upper elementary – middle grades)

Finally, I’ll share some really nice history books that your history buff might enjoy:

DK Smithsonian History Year by Year
DK: Where on Earth?
A Really Short History of Nearly Everything
How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous
Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon
Women in the Material World
Man Eating Bugs: The Art and Science of Eating Insects

Next time, I’ll share some ideas for math related gifts!

Happy holidays!



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Educational Gift Ideas – Science Edition

2014giftguideLast week I shared some holiday gift ideas with a Language Arts theme. This week, I’ll give you some great science-themed gift ideas.

Science can be so much fun, what kid doesn’t want to discover how the world works? Every child has a million and one questions about everything – give them the right tools and they can find the answers on their own.

For little ones – you absolutely must have a magnifying glass. We have gone through dozens and dozens of these over the years. Take them outside on nature walks, have them look at the skin on their hands, their pet, etc. These are great and really sturdy – Learning Resources Jumbo Magnifier Set Of 6

Another great tool for exploring your world is a microscope. These don’t have to be the fancy expensive variety. Nor do they have to be reserved for high school/college level science. This is a great first microscope:Educational Insights Geosafari Tuff Scope; as is this pocket microscope: Carson 60X-100X MicroMax LED Lighted Pocket Microscope

Another item I’ve always kept on hand are magnets. These 8″ Magnetic Wands (Set of 6) are fantastic – they are durable, and the magnets are really strong. My kids have spent hours playing with these, and exploring which things are magnetic and which aren’t.

Now, I’ll admit, I haven’t actually used this item yet. But I just purchased Goldie Blox and the Dunk Tank for my youngest for this coming Christmas… I have heard fantastic things, so I’m hoping she likes it. Goldiblox is a kit that comes with a storybook and the pieces to create design ideas to complement the story. Each kit focuses on one type of machine. For example, this kit’s focus is the hinge. You can collect the different kits and use the pieces interchangeably to create lots of different designs. It’s geared toward girls, but I don’t see why a boy wouldn’t want to play with these as well. And once your child is hooked on this beginner’s engineering toy, you can move up to the next level with the K’NEX 521 Piece Building Set.

If you want a fantastic science kit, then look no farther than Thames and Kosmos Science Kits. There is a huge variety of kits, in nearly every field of science. They even have a little labs series of kits for younger children. I’ve used a few of them over the years and they’ve always been great – and we’re picky. There is nothing worse than a science experiment that promises to be amazing and then completely flops. So far, we’ve never had a flop with these kits. They are a bit pricey, but worth it.

72716_1644858877208_4421557_nHave a budding geologist? We’ve used and enjoyed this 4M Crystal Mining Kit. There is a good variety of crystals for your child to chisel out, just like a real geologist. You might also enjoy this ROCK ON! Geology Game & Rock Collection. Likewise, for your budding paleontologist, this is a wonderful kit: Smithsonian Diggin’ Up Dinosaurs T-Rex – they can dig up the bones and then put them together to build a model of a T-Rex skeleton.

If you are looking for more fun ways to explore the natural world, you could try an Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden or this Adventure Kids Bug Catcher Box Set or maybe this Fascinations AntWorks Illuminated Blue Ant Farm. All are great ways to learn more about insects, and even collect some new “pets.”

Do you have a space-nut? For years, my boys had an inflatable solar system that we found at our local planetarium hanging in their bedroom. This is a similar set to what we had: Learning Resources Inflatable Solar System. I saw this a few weeks ago when I was starting my shopping – perfect for a future astronaut: Uncle Milton Moon In My Room. With this, you can hang a replica of the moon in your child’s room and track the phases of the moon. It also works as an educational night light.

There are some great Science themed board games that make great gifts too.

Somebody Board Game
Primordial Soup (more for middle grades/teens)
Bone Wars: The Game of Ruthless Paleontology (also middle grades/teens)
Zooloretto Board Game
Periodic Quest: A Family, Educational Card and Board Game Set with More Than 6 Card Games and Board Games Based on the Periodic Table of Elements.

In the next article, I’ll share some History/Geography themed gift ideas!

Happy shopping!




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Educational Gift Ideas – Language Arts Edition


I was just informed that there are only 6 more Saturdays until Christmas. SIX! Some days I wish time would slow down just a little bit.

I’ve started my shopping, and as I was planning out what my children will be receiving, I thought it might be fun and helpful to share some ideas here with you. I like to try and find interesting, and sneakily educational gifts for my children. My goal is to have a house full of fascinating things to tempt them away from the video games and television when they are looking for things to do. I’ll be doing this as a series over the next few weeks, and I’ll divide the posts by subject matter.

Today I want to share some Language Arts inspired gift ideas:

If you’ve followed my posts, you’ll know that my twins do not enjoy writing. I’ve tried many things to change that, however, the latest of which being Magnetic Poetry Original Kit.

I bought the kids a magnetic poetry set, thinking it would be a sneaky way to get them to play with words without actually writing. I didn’t make a production of it, just opened the box and slapped all of the words onto the fridge. I put a couple random words together so they’d see the potential.

10245302_10204431648887144_5466326095169081433_nThis is what they have come up with. I figure, at least they are playing with words, right?

There are also several add-on kits that you can purchase to add a different element to your poetry. You can get the Magnetic Poetry Kit: Book Lover kit, the  Nature Poet Magnetic Poetry Kit, the Magnetic Poetry Kit: Shakespeare and even a Magnetic Poetry Zombie kit. The possibilities are endless (or at least as endless as the size of your refrigerator!).


294009_4729279785803_960614695_nIf you have a budding writer already, and you want to encourage them in their writing, you might consider something like Finish This Book or Wreck This Journal (Expanded) by Keri Smith. These books are a great way to help your child come up with new or different things to write about. They are full of prompts that encourage your creativity. I love that Smith encourages you to “mess up” the book, perfect for those perfectionists who are rattled by the idea of making a mistake, because it’s the mistakes that make this book special. I would suggest that if you buy one of these for your child, buy one for yourself as well. Sometimes our children need to see us being creative! Plus, it’s really fun. ;)


2014-11-14 11.15.08If you want a fun way to sneak in some spelling practice, why not try Scrabble Classic? Some days I skip spelling lessons entirely and just play a few rounds of Scrabble instead. This is especially great on those rough days when no one is in the mood for actual lessons.

You can even purchase additional Scrabble Tiles to add more letters to your game or even to just practice your spelling words (without the game board).




Does your child aspire to write their own books someday? You might want to give them Lulu Jr. Illustory – Newest Version Craft Kit. This is a really neat kit – your child can write and illustrate their story, then you send it off (or create it online) to have it professionally printed into their very own hard cover picture book, written by them!

If storytelling is a fun past-time for your child, they would likely enjoy Rory’s Story Cubes. These cubes are portable (great for long car trips) and so much fun. You can create an endless variety of stories – either on their own, or as a fun group activity. Is your child stuck on what to do next in their story? Use the story cubes to break through writer’s block! I think my favorite thing about this game is that there is no wrong way to use it and there are no wrong answers. Anything goes, because it’s all about being creative!

And of course, if we’re talking about Language Arts, I can’t skip reading! Some of our favorite books that would make great gifts:

Picture Books:

We Are in a Book! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) – You really can’t go wrong with the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems. We all love them, from the 5 year old on up. These are great for budding readers, and just as much fun as read alouds. This is my personal favorite, but we have several and they are all fantastic.

All Are Family: Celebrating the Diversity of Our Global Family – this was actually written by a homeschooling mom who uses Build Your Library! How neat is that? This book is gorgeous. The illustrations are so lovely, the prose is gently and flowing, and it’s just a very sweet story to read aloud. It would be a perfect fit if you’re studying the Kindergarten – Around the World program. My youngest loves it and has asked to hear it numerous times.

The Day the Crayons Quit – I admit I haven’t read this yet. But I’m getting it for my youngest because I’ve heard so many people rave about it. A picture book about crayons that are unhappy with their lot in life – what’s not to like?

Chapter Books:

Nightmares! When I heard Jason Segel wrote a children’s book, I got excited and purchased it immediately. I decided it would make an excellent read aloud for October. I have twin boys who are extremely picky about books. I’ve spent years trying to find literature that will spark a love of reading. I’ve been reading to them since they were babies (they are 12 now) and out of all the books we’ve read, the only ones they loved and asked to hear “just one more chapter” were the Harry Potter books and Nightmares. So that should tell you something. It earned 5 stars for that reason alone, but of course, it wouldn’t have held their interest if it wasn’t a rollicking good story.

And the story was really, really good. Charlie Laird has just moved into his stepmother’s strange purple mansion, with his father and little brother. He’s been there for months, and he’s having terrible nightmares. The first half of the book keeps you guessing as to what’s really going on. The Netherworld was intriguing – I loved the idea of the ever changing monsters and the terror-tories. I even had my kids each draw a picture depicting their own personal terror-tories. I loved the overall theme of facing your fears in order to overcome them. We laughed, I cried a little, it was just scary enough without being over the top.

Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7) We are die-hard Harry Potter fans at our house. These are the books that got my twins interested in reading. Magic, mystery, adventure – Harry Potter has it all.

Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare – Containing six of Shakespeare’s famous plays written in prose for children, this book is beautiful. Exposing children to Shakespeare as lovely tales will aid them later when they read his original works. Knowing the plot and characters will make the language that much easier to understand. The illustrations are lovely, the stories are written in easy to understand language, but they don’t lose any of their power as great stories. This book is definitely not to be missed.

The next article in the series will list gift ideas for your budding scientist, so stay tuned!

Happy shopping!

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New Unit Study: Prehistory

Books not pictured - Archaeology for Kids, Maroo of the Winter Caves, You Wouldn't Want to be a Mammoth Hunter and The Secret Cave

Books not pictured – Archaeology for Kids, Maroo of the Winter Caves, You Wouldn’t Want to be a Mammoth Hunter and The Secret Cave –  they were eaten by the dinosaurs. ;)

I don’t know about you, but at some point all four of my children have gone through a dinosaur phase. For one, it was a passion that lasted for many years. Over the course of these obsessions, we have collected an obscene number of books about dinosaurs and prehistory. There are so  many fantastic books out there on this topic… and yet, there are very few actual homeschool resources devoted to it. So I have sought to remedy that.

This six-week unit covers much more than just dinosaurs. You’ll learn about the origins of the Earth, the first life, the first mammals, the first men, the Ice Age, all the way through to the beginnings of modern man… and of course, dinosaurs.

You’ll read through the first section of the The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia Of World History supplemented with several carefully selected picture books, as well as a literature study of the excited chapter book, Maroo of the Winter Caves.

This unit includes a variety of projects and activities, from creating a Timeline of Prehistory and a Field Guide to the Prehistoric World, to creating a relief carving and cave painting in the style of Prehistoric artists, to building your own coracle and more.

The Prehistory Unit is perfect for your elementary age student, but there are many suggestions for books to add in for older children, and the activities are flexible enough to include both age brackets. The unit is 61 pages, scheduled over six  5 day weeks, and includes vocabulary, timeline pages, and several activity pages as well as a literature study including copywork.

Activity Pages

Activity Pages

Prehistory Timeline Pages

Prehistory Timeline Pages

Vocabulary and Field Guide activity pages

Vocabulary and Field Guide activity pages










$14.99 – Purchase the Prehistory Unit Study –  Special Introductory Price – $9.99

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Vocabulary Notebook Freebie

Vocabulary-Activity-Page-1One of the questions I get asked the most is what to do with the vocabulary words that are scheduled in the instructor’s guide. I’ve spoken about learning vocabulary in context, and I still believe that this is the best way to learn vocabulary.

But sometimes, you want something more.  Off and on during our homeschooling years, I have had my children keep a vocabulary notebook. It was never anything fancy… sometimes we used the words from our read aloud, and sometimes I task them to find their own words in their reading. I’ve often found that they’re more likely to recall and use words they discovered on their own. They would write down the word with the definition, part of speech and write it in a complete sentence. Sometimes, they’d illustrate the word. We never did it for a full year though – it was more like something we would do every now and then, when they were interested.

So, with that in mind, I created this notebooking activity page to use with the vocabulary words in the instructor’s guide. But feel free to let your child use it with words they come across in their own reading as well.

The activity page gives your child a way to study a word in depth. They will record the definition, part of speech, synonyms, antonyms, use the word in a sentence and illustrate it.

Download Vocabulary Activity Page Here

Just one caveat – I do not recommend having them complete a page for every word listed in the vocabulary and notes section of the instructor’s guide. It would become tedious and overwhelming. Maybe start with one or two words a week and build from there. At the end of the year, your child will have their own dictionary of words they have learned. Not only does it become a homeschooling keepsake for you, but it becomes a great tool for review. It comes in handy when they are writing reports, essays or original stories – they can flip through their vocabulary notebook and include the words that they have collected.


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New Unit Study: Winter Holidays Around the World

2014-10-07 15.47.50Why not take a break from your regular studies this holiday season and learn about Winter Holidays Around the World? This is a fun, multi-age unit study that is perfect for the whole family.

You’ll travel the world while learning about five major winter holidays – Winter Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Chinese New Year.  Unlike my regular unit studies, there is no schedule included, but rather a more open ended list of activities and books. This way you can take your time and explore the winter holidays at your own pace during the craze of the holiday rush.

T2014-10-09 12.21.23his unit is 44 pages long and includes a list of books to read, several helpful links and 23 activity pages. Some examples of the activities included are: go on a winter scavenger hunt, complete an activity page about Christmas traditions in another country, learn specific holiday vocabulary words (28 words in all), try recipes for holiday foods, create a holidays around the world map, learn to write the Chinese characters for “fu” or “luck,” learn about the Chinese Zodiac, make your own dreidel to play with, and much more!

Here are some examples of the notebook pages and crafts that are included:





So purchase today and celebrate the holiday season with the Winter Holidays Around the World unit study!

$9.99 – Purchase the Winter Holidays Around the World Unit Study – Special Introductory Price – $5.99

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Favorite Fall Reads

229582_4357195363925_1854508216_nThe leaves are changing, the air is getting crisp and cool, and the school year is new and fresh. It’s the season of apples and pumpkins and football. Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year so I have quite the collection of fall themed picture books that I love to share with my children round about September. I thought I would share a few of my family’s favorite fall picture books with you on this first day of Autumn.
Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson

This is one of my all time favorite fall picture books. It reminds me of one of my children, who when he was small, wanted to put the leaves back onto the trees. Fletcher is a sweet, caring little fox who is distressed that his favorite tree is shedding it’s leaves. The story is sweet, but the illustrations are what really make it great. The pictures are just glorious.

Why Do Leaves Change Color? by Betsy Maestro.

Why Do Leaves Change Color is the perfect pairing with Fletcher. I’m a big fan of the whole Let’s Read and Find Out series, and this book has an excellent explanation for children as to why the leaves are changing. I love that it gives a real explanation, using scientific terms (like pigment and chlorophyll) but also making it understandable for the youngest listeners.

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert

Lois Ehlert’s picture books are just gorgeous. I love her style of watercolors and collage – you can linger over the illustrations for hours. Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf tells the life story of a sugar maple tree. I love that she tells the story in a beautiful way so that it feels like a story, but like Why Do Leaves Change Color, she doesn’t talk down to children. In the back of the book she explains scientific facts and even includes instructions for planting your own tree and making treats for birds.

Apples, Apples, Apples by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

Apples, Apples, Apples is a sweet story about a family of bunnies and their trip to the apple orchard. This has been a favorite in our family for many years. We always read it before we take our annual trip to the orchard for apple picking. I love the fact that the author includes a chart of different apple varieties and what they are best used for – cider, baking or just eating. The author also includes some great information like how apples grow, how many seeds are in an apple and even a recipe for homemade applesauce.

Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden by George Levenson

Pumpkin Circle is a lovely poetic story about the life cycle of a pumpkin – from seed to jack-o-lantern. My children appreciate that the pictures are real photographs rather than drawings. In the back of the book the author includes scientific information as well as tips for planting your own pumpkin patch.

 Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell

Pumpkin Jack is another great life cycle story. Tim carves a jack-o-lantern and names him Jack. But rather than throw Jack in the garbage when he starts to rot, he puts him in the garden and watches how he changes throughout the seasons. Eventually fall comes around again and he has lots of pumpkins to share. Lovely illustrations really capture the story.

One of he best things about most of these books is that they are great lead-ins to Nature Study! You just can’t help but go outdoors after reading them, and investigate the season’s changes yourself. What are your families favorite fall reads?


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