Book Pile ~ Spooky Reading

Lately we have had trouble getting to the library on a regular basis. I miss the days when a weekly library trip was part of the regular routine! We still go when we can, but we’re lucky to make it once every month or two. I am hoping we will be able to make library trips a priority in the near future, but for now I am planning to pick up a few new books each month to have on hand. I don’t normally buy many books outside of “school” books, but I had so much fun picking these out that I am determined to make it a tradition, every few weeks or so. It’s amazing how much fun a stack of shiny new books is!
Here are my picks for October….all spooky books!
  • Demon Dentist – This one has been on my list ever since I heard the author compared to Roald Dahl. James has volunteered to preview it and let me know if it’s too scary for his younger sister.
  • The Witch Family – This one is for Rose (9) – she has already read it and told me it was “awesome”.
  • Through the Woods – A very spooky graphic novel… James (12) read it in one day and said it’s pretty scary. I would definitely not recommend this title to anyone under 12, having read one of the stories myself!
  • It – This one is for me.  I remember reading it as a young teen (my parents weren’t too big on policing our reading!) and I have always wanted to re-read it. Usually around this time of year I read The Haunting of Hill House, which is my all-time favorite ghost story, but this year I decided to switch things up.

So that’s our “fun” book pile for October!

Math with Picture Books

For several years now I have been determined to gather a collection of math picture books and use them to add interest to our math studies. I have failed to accomplish this each year, but this year I actually did it! I’m going to share our reading list in a minute, but first I’ll tell you how we’re using math picture books in our homeschool.

 We read a picture book each week.

 That’s it. Everyone reads a math picture book each week, from the 14 year old down to my 9 year old (my 16 year old is trying to finish up Algebra 2 while doing Geometry, so she’s excused).   Some will be overly simple for my older kids, or go over the head of my younger one.  Others may give a little food for thought, or explain a concept in a way that finally makes something click.

Our Math Picture Book List

1. Perimeter, Area, and Volume: A Monster Book

2. Shape Up! Fun with Triangles and Other Polygons

3. Multiplying Menace

4. Multiplying Menace Divides

5. Full House: An Invitation to Fractions

6. What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras?

7. Actual Size

 8. The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Early Mathematics

9. Mummy Math

10. Apple Fractions

11. The Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat

12. Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci

13. A Remainder of One

14. On Beyond a Million

15. Math Potatoes

16. Spaghetti and Meatballs for All

17. Mystery Math: A First Book of Algebra

18. Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi

19. Math Curse

20. One Grain of Rice

21. Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone

22. Cut Down to Size at High Noon

23. If You Made a Million

24. The King’s Chessboard

25. How Big is a Foot?

So far, this is a great success! I have my youngest choose a book for me to  read aloud to her each week. That way I get to experience them all too. Math with picture books is one of my very favorite things about our new homeschool year.

Till next time!

Homeschool Summer Reading List

Row of Books in Shelf

It’s summer! I am excited to actually have time built into our schedule to make it to the library. During this past school year, library trips just didn’t happen often enough. But this summer we have some convenient gaps in our schedule between picking up one kiddo and dropping off another….so I am planning a weekly library day! That means a library list is in order.

My own summer reading list includes some just for fun books. I read Wolf Hall during our recent vacation and was pretty excited to learn there was a sequel. And I loved the first Grantchester book so I definitely want to read the next two of those.  Middlemarch is one I have had sitting on my nightstand for months.

I also have some books I am reading in order to be able to discuss them with Grace next fall. She will be continuing to read through Sonlight’s Core 300 (secular-friendly books only). She will be starting off on week 12 with that Core next fall. I have found that reading the same books makes all the difference in being able to discuss. I can’t read all of the kids books, obviously, so I am focusing on high school literature. Christopher is officially a high schooler next fall too, but thankfully I have already read most of what he will read.

I also want to read some books about homeschooling or learning ~ for inspiration….

Next up I have a list of books to search out for the kids or suggest to them if they are stuck ~ some elementary/early middle grade for my youngers…

Some later middle grade/young-adult titles for my olders….

Rose just started reading the Story Thieves series and she absolutely adores it. She literally sighs as she reads and tells me it is “the best book ever!”. I know the kids won’t necessarily like all (or even most) of my suggestions, but I think we’re off to a good start. I’d love additional summer reading suggestions if you have any!

Thanks for stopping by!

Reading aloud

It was a snowy, blowy day here yesterday, a perfect day for reading aloud, which I spent much of my morning doing! So I thought I’d do a little round-up of each child’s current read-alouds.  The first book is their daytime read-aloud. Rose and James have their own, Christopher and Grace share one since they also share Bookshark World History. The second book is our bedtime read-aloud. And yes, I do still read aloud to all the kids at bedtime – even my fourteen year old!

With Rose (6)
I am reading Caddie Woodlawn with her because Bookshark has Little House in the Big Woods scheduled and we read that not too long ago. She wouldn’t mind re-reading it, but we can’t find it. We had Caddie excerpts one week for her Writing with Ease assignments and she really wanted to hear the whole story. It is a much longer and wordier book than Little House, but so far so good. We are both enjoying it. 
  I can’t believe that we are on the last of the Little House books! The First Four Years is much shorter than the other books in this series, so it will go quickly. I have to do some editing here and there, such as not reading parts about children freezing to death in snow storms. Everyone handles such things differently of course, but I just can’t handle reading such things to a sensitive six year old at bedtime. So I do skip a page here and there. And I have added this to my wishlist for when we finish this series.

With James (9)

I am surprised that The Secret of the Sealed Room has so few reviews on Amazon. We are reading this for Bookshark’s American History 1 and it is one of our favorite books in this level so far. We are really enjoying puzzling out the mystery.  

Edited: We actually finished this book today, doing a double reading because we wanted to know the answer!

James and I have been working our way slowly through the excellent Story of the World series at bedtime and we are now up to the final volume! I was really very interested to see how Susan Wise Bauer would handle some of the tough issues in recent history and so far I have been very pleased. She has done an excellent job in sharing just enough information to get the point across and help kids understand,  but not so much that reading about the Holocaust turns into a traumatic event.  If you are reading this series with a younger reader, I would probably pre-read potentially disturbing sections, but this has been right on target age-wise for James. 
With Christopher (12) and Grace (14)
My kids love reading Greek mythology so The Trojan War is right up their alley. They already know the whole story forwards and backwards but they are enjoying hearing it again. This has been one of our most popular read-alouds so far. My other two are always listening in as well. It is a pretty simple retelling and easy enough to follow. I wish it had a pronunciation guide, because I am always having to ask Grace how to say the names.

With Christopher

He and I were kind of stuck for what to read at bedtime one night, so I grabbed The Children of Green Knowe off the shelf. It is okay so far. It is kind of an odd book in that the writing style is targeted at a young age – probably 6/7, but  parts of the back story are a bit disturbing and seem better suited to older kids. It is definitely a bit young to read with Christopher, but we started it and are interested enough to keep reading.

With Grace

With Grace, I like to read classic books that I think she should experience but is reluctant to read on her own. She is very much into fantasy books, and it is hard to talk her into reading much else, except for her schoolwork. Lately we have been reading Watership Down, which I can’t remember ever having read myself. It just seemed like one of those books you really ought to read. She did balk a little about reading about rabbits, but I asked her to just give it a try for a couple of nights and now we are both enjoying it. I would not read this with a much younger child, as I think they would probably either be bored or disturbed (or both!) by some of the happenings. And yes, it is long! We’ll be reading this one for quite some time.

As far as my own books go, I started a page on the blog for my 52 books challenge where I am planning to list books as I finish them.

Happy reading!

New Library Books, New Math

We just went to the library for the first time in weeks. Last year the library was part of our regular weekly rotation, with a visit tucked in between a riding lesson and gymnastics. This year we don’t have such a convenient time slot and our longer school days and busier evenings mean that we often go two or three weeks between library trips. It’s okay though. Grace reads longer books and has been using her allowance money more and more to buy her own books. She also trades books with friends frequently. Christopher likes to take his time reading long fiction books and has been borrowing a lot of books from Grace. James really prefers nonfiction and has read most everything from there that he wants to. I keep meaning to teach him how to request inter-library loan books. And Rose always enjoys a good library trip, but we have so many books at home for her that she certainly isn’t lacking when we don’t go.

 I like to look for books for myself once a month or so. It takes me awhile to get through a fiction book, so I don’t get very many of those. I am still reading the massive Under the Dome, so I didn’t need a new novel. Instead, I picked up a stack of nonfiction books that looked interesting.

In my haul:

Quiet Mind 
The Nature Principle
Homegrown and Homemade
Real Simple’s 869 New Uses for Old Things
Christmas Crafting in No Time

There is just something calming about having a new stack of library books sitting on an end table, don’t you think? And for free! That always amazes me.

In homeschool news lately…. Rose has made the switch to Math Mammoth 1. She had been doing Rightstart Level B. I spend a good amount of time getting this program all set up over the summer so that it would be more open and go and user-friendly. At first she loved it, but the past few weeks it has been a struggle to get her to do it. Her main complaint?

It takes too long.

I think so, too. I was not entirely disappointed that this didn’t work out. I am not sure why I thought this program could work with a fourth child. It is very, very teacher intensive. Rose is also not such a big fan of all the bit and bobs… the place value cards and cut-outs and such. It all just gets in the way of what she really wants to be doing – practicing her bridge kickovers and handstands.

So we have switched to Math Mammoth, which is much easier on us both. I will not say she loves this program either, but it is quicker to do each day and there is the bribe of playing one of the recommended games at the end of the lesson. She does love that. I purchased the Grade 1 Complete Curriculum and each chapter includes links to online games. Lately,  she has been playing games to help her practice her addition facts up to 10.

 Around the yard, things were looking pretty sad. Each fall we have a huge mess of leaves to contend with. We have lots and lots of trees, and they are lovely. Until they drop their leaves en masse. We usually put off the major cleanup until November when most of the leaves are down and then do one afternoon of raking, mowing, and leaf-blowing to get the yard back to mostly presentable. That happened this weekend, so things are looking better out there, except for the pumpkins which look sadder each day. They look way worse than this since the dog discovered they were edible.

We have one tree still hanging onto  foliage –  the Japanese Maple is always the last to go. I am glad, because it looks so pretty out the back window. Once the leaves are down, I think it may be time to hang our bird feeder up again.

We will have a short week this week, we’ll be taking Veteran’s Day off to relax a little and maybe finish the yard cleanup, as if it ever can be done. I also really, really need to plant garlic, so I am thinking that may happen that day too. I also need to figure out a science plan for Christopher, he is finishing up Sonlight’s Core F with Core E Science. I am thinking we will go with Bookshark’s Grade 5 science because they should have the next level out by spring and we could do that next year, if it looks good.

Happy Monday!

a six-year-old’s book pile

Some of the books that Rose and I have been reading….some for Bookshark K and some just because…..
We just finished reading Johnny Appleseed, The Story of a Legend for Bookshark K. This is a wonderful book! I was sad to see that it is out of print,  because this book is definitely one of Rose’s favorites from this Core so far. We read it over three days and we both loved it. Great story, inspiring man, loads of adventure, and beautiful pictures. We will be re-reading this one for sure!
Also for Bookshark K, we have been reading through The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh. This has been so much fun to read again! Bookshark schedules half a chapter per day, but we always finish a story each day, just because we want to find out what happens. I am always struck by just how funny these stories are. I am sure many of the little jokes go right over Rose’s head, but I always appreciate a book that appeals to adults just as much as kids! A true classic.

Rose and I have been reading the Little House series for about a year or so, a chapter at bedtime each night. We are now up to Little Town on the Prairie . I had originally planned to stop reading this series before we hit The Long Winter, thinking the later books would be better read when she is a bit older. But she insisted on continuing, which is fine, I just have to do some on-the-fly editing here and there as I read. The Long Winter had some parts in it that I thought might bother her because she tends to be a bit sensitive, and some parts of Little Town have been a bit wordy and uninteresting to her so I condense it a bit,  but overall we are both really loving this series.

Finally, just for fun, we are squeezing in reading from Roverandom when we can. Did you even know Tolkien had written a book for younger kids? The librarian at our library was pretty surprised when we checked it out. I had to request it from interlibrary loan.  It’s a story about a pet dog who gets changed into a toy, and then changed into an almost- dog who has lots of adventures and then….well I’m not sure exactly what happens next, we are still reading it. It can be a bit wordy in places, so I usually read it for only 15 minutes or so at a time, but it is a great little adventure story.

That’s it for Rose’s bookpile, though I forgot to add that she has been reading Pinocchio with Dad, a very old illustrated copy we picked up…somewhere.  She asked to read it after we read some excerpts from it in Writing with Ease. I suspect we will be adding some Thanksgiving books to her pile soon. And next week maybe I will post someone else’s book pile, because this was fun!

Reading Now: Sonlight Core F Read-Alouds

We read so very much around here that I have decided to devote my Friday posts to all things books. We have really been enjoying the Sonlight Core F Read-Alouds this year! I think we have only skipped one so far. These are the ones we have finished, along with just a few notes for each.

Young-Fu of the Upper Yangtze was a bit slow moving. Christopher had trouble sitting still for it at times. But the action picked up nicely towards the end and we learned a lot about life in 1920’s China, seen through the eyes of a young apprentice struggling to make his way in a new environment. It’s very much a fish out of water/coming of age story, with a hero who makes plenty of mistakes but learns from them and ultimately succeeds. Very positive messages here. There was a bit of violence here and there, but nothing over the top.
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon – We loved this book! It is lovely to start with, lots of beautiful illustrations throughout. The story is a classic girl-on-mission-to-save-family type narrative, with a twist: Minli is going to ask the Man-in-the-Moon for help, and she takes a dragon along with her. The story of Minli is interwoven with folk stories told by her father. A really fun book! No concerns here.
The Master Puppeteer– This book, like Young-Fu, was a bit slower paced, but we still enjoyed it. This time, the setting is feudal Japan, and the main character is a boy learning the art of puppetry. Along the way there are many trials…especially towards the end when a surprising twist develops. No concerns here.
I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade is the read-aloud we just finished.  It is set in the time of Kublai Khan and the main character is a girl who disguises herself as a boy in order to save her horse from the Khan’s soldiers. Oyuna is really a fabulous heroine-brave, resourceful, imaginative…I will miss reading about her adventures! I had no major concerns with this one-there are a few deaths (including Oyuna’s mother)- but the overall theme is about overcoming adversity and seeing your dreams through.  There are a few scenes that might bother some sensitive children-such as the scene where Oyuna discovers her dead grandmother in a cave (and later returns to dig up the grave), but there is nothing terribly graphic about it. The ending, while a bit sad, is ultimately hopeful and a story of success against the odds. 
The Land I Lost -After pre-reading this one I am going to skip it. There was a warning note in the Instructor Guide about a certain chapter involving a violent monkey and a toddler.  After reading it myself, I decided not to share it with the kids. I originally planned to skip just the one chapter, but when I flipped through the book I encountered a story about a violent hog that killed a father while his daughter hid in the bushes, a few too many (and a bit too graphic) animal deaths,  plus some treatment of animals that made me squirm a bit. Also the ending, involving the boy’s water buffalo, did not look particularly uplifting! If I did not have a five year-old listening in, it might be okay- the reviews on it look positive. I think I just need something a bit lighter right now.  We will be skipping ahead to the next read-aloud: Daughter of the Mountains
As a side-note, we have been using Best-Loved Folktales of the World and All the Small Poems as readers instead of read-alouds. The kids enjoy both.
I’ll try to update this list as we move along!