Books

For the love of Reading.

One of my favorite activities to do with my daughter is sitting down in our living room and reading books together. Growing up my mom has countless photos of me reading my favorite books and now I see that same image when I take a photo of my daughter as she attempts to flip pages, chew on covers and climb over the towers of books we have. 

Little Sarah Reading

Little Sarah Reading

Walking into book stores is a serious struggle for me and gosh, there is something about children's books that gets me caught in Barnes and Noble for hours. So when my friend, Megan, invited me to her Usborne book party I couldn't help but be excited for a party in my pajamas at home and the chance to see lots and lots of new and exciting kids books. 

Now, I'm not trying to sell these books to you or push you to join Usborne, this is just my real and honest experience in buying their books and how I fell more in love with children's books after I hosted my own party. 

"Usborne and Kane Miller books are the most exciting, engaging, and educational books on the market today. They are high-quality, innovative, lavishly-illustrated, and best of all, they are the books kids love to read. Choose from over 1,800 bright, colorful, and fun titles covering a wide variety of subjects."

"Usborne and Kane Miller books are the most exciting, engaging, and educational books on the market today. They are high-quality, innovative, lavishly-illustrated, and best of all, they are the books kids love to read. Choose from over 1,800 bright, colorful, and fun titles covering a wide variety of subjects."

When looking for books for my daughter I am always on the lookout for fun and educational books. I love learning and I love a well illustrated book. When these two are combined its hard for me to set down the book and walk away. A majority of the Usborne books help children learn new skills and attain new knowledge. They are durable and I love the bright and colorful illustrations in each of their books and this is why it took me almost 2 hours to pick out the books I wanted to buy Eleanor. They not only have babies buts but books for all kids which is great because I know we will be buying some more of these books as Ellie grows up.

Im going to share with you our top 4 books I got from hosting a party. It was great because I paid so little for all of them and I absolutely LOVE each one I got (and so does Ellie) 

One of our favorites is "That's Not my Princess" It is great because Eleanor loves touchy feely books and the book is full of bright pictures and catches her attention. 

The next book we got that is hard to put down is Garden Sounds. This book is full of pretty birds chirping, bees buzz and rain pitter pattering. What drew me to this book was that the sounds are really pretty and don't get annoying! They have little cutouts throughout the book that Ellie loves to feel and she enjoys listening to the different sounds.

Baby's Very First Play Book Animal Words and Farm words are two books full of cut outs and finger trails, bright beautiful pictures that help children understand and recognize different animals and farm words. I loved it because I am not a fan of lift the flap books. Most of my experience with them is children ripping them off. This book is just finger trails and cutouts for little ones like Ellie so that she can play and I know when Im giving her the book it wont be destroyed in a matter of moments.

The last book I'm going to gush on is Baby's very first slide and see: Under the Sea. This book is so unique and I never saw anything on the market like it. Each page has a fun sliding aspect that creates a new, fun experience when reading together. Eleanor is too little to do the sliding part, but she loves watching the pages change and see the book come alive.

I seriously could go on and tell you about each book in our library, not just Usborne books, and why I love each of them. Reading is so important, it helps our kids learn listening skills, stimulates their imagination, and helps them get a love for learning at a young age. Plus it's a fun activity to do together.

Hope you enjoyed learning about some new books!

Have a great Monday! 

Sarah

**Today on Instagram Stories I will be showing the Garden Sounds Book and Noisy Nursery Rhymes book. So head on over and follow us @honestlymotherhood so you can get see these books in action. You can also go to Megan's Blog to find out more about Usborne books and how you can purchase them if you are interested.** 

Homeschool Curriculum I Love.

Just this school year I feel I've worked out the kinks when it comes to curriculum for Elementary ages.  

 

It only took me five years of lots of trial and error, research, reviews, talking to other mamas, buying, ordering, trips to consignment sales and homeschool stores. It's been quite the process.

 

Rule 1: what works for me and my children may not work for you.  

Rule 2: try to figure out your child's learning style BEFORE spending hundreds on a curriculum they'll end up hating. Go here for a short quiz to find your child's learning style.

Rule 3: think outside the box.  

When I say think outside the box, what I mean is take that traditional school experience that you carry with you all of the time in terms of the word "school"...got it?...now toss it in a pit and light it on fire. 

 

Let it burn.  

 

If homeschooling was supposed to look like public/traditional school, then why bother homeschooling?!  

 

You have the opportunity to give your child a catered-to, rich, conclusive education enhanced by the vast experiences that come from home life. 

 

Traditional school (i.e. Public education, charter schools [most of them], and Private schools) was founded with the hopes of offering free education to all. And while education is very important in society, the way we go about educating is even more so. Check out this piece on the in's and out's about our current educational model.

 

The "free" public school system really costs almost $10,000 of our tax dollars per U.S. student, per year.  That's more than most private school's charge for a years worth of education. I'm not sure just where all of that money is going to, but our educational system is a mess and we have too many underpaid teachers to charge that much per student. 

 

Now, before y'all blast me over traditional schooling, I'm not against it. There are awesome teachers out there, classrooms that move a lot and have hands on learning. There are entire schools that have broken out of the mold that our current model suggests. These are the rare exception, unfortunately. 

 

With five children, I save the state about $50,000 a year, spend $1,000 in that year for our homeschooling materials, curriculum, co-op fees, extracurriculars, and field trips, but receive zero tax breaks for doing so. 

 

There's a mystery I cannot grasp my head around.  

 

But, it's worth it. Highly so. And with that said, let me break down for you my favorite curriculums (so far) for Elementary aged children. [I cannot speak for any middle or high school curriculum...yet, anyway].

 

Core Curriculum 

My heart beats for Heart of Dakota brand curriculum.  

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This award-winning curriculum is perfect for children close in age. Up to three grades apart can use the same core book. 

The way it works is each day has lesson plans laid out for you in each subject: history, science, bible, math, English, art/music/poetry, reading, and handwriting. 

Heres a sample page: 

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I use this book, which has lessons for 33 weeks and can be spread out to be completed in two years, instead of one, as my foundation. It's my base. It's my GO-TO for ideas. It's my springboard. It's my teacher assistant. It's glorious because it's done all of the work for me.  

 

As a group we do history and science together. Yes, I teach my fourth grader and Kindergartener and preschoolers the same history and science lessons. BUT they don't all have to do the same activities or assignments within that lesson. That's where Heart of Dakota gives you freedom to pick and choose what you want to do for each child. 

 

Heart of Dakota suggests many different supplemental texts for each subject. Like they recommend Singapore math and give the assignment for that day. But I never use Singapore math, and so while I may do the suggested math activity in the math box, I assign the children their own math assignments from the curriculum we've chosen specifically for their learning styles.  

 

The whole left side of every daily plan is solely history based. This curriculum doesn't skimp on the history. No sir. It's the core of what we do. Then the right side is called Learning the Basics and always includes English, science, math, and reading activities.  

 

Phonics/Language Arts/English

 

For Kindergarten/First Grades I use Explode the Code  set of books. We just start as little Kinders and begin with Get Ready for the Code and go all the way thru to level 8 of Explode the Code. 

 

They also offer an online version, as of recently that I have yet to try. Just go to www.explodethecode.com  

 

For reading, I love 100 Easy Lessons so much. In 100 lessons, your child can go from not reading at all to second grade level by the end of the program. Love it. It's been used three times with my oldest three and works very well.  

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Teaching your child how to read takes a spoon full of sugar and big spoonful of patience. But boy is it fulfilling. I dare you not to cry when your little one reads her first book thru knowing that YOU taught them how. It's awesome sauce! 

 

For reading beyond the 100 Lessons book, I highly highly highly highly highly recommend Life of Fred Eden Series. I know, you're sick of hearing about Fred. Then maybe you should just buy Fred and see for yourself what all the fuss is about. These reading books (not math books) are HILARIOUS and perfect for emerging readers. The artwork is colorful and odd and so fun. We can't get enough of this 18 book set.  

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Grades 2 and up I love Rod and Staff English.  

 Sometimes, the best books are black and white, boring, and to the point. I've tried other English/Phonics programs and they had lovely colorful, bright pages and worksheets. But my children always got distracted by the colors and fun-ness of the pages that they didn't complete their work diligently. 

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Horizons is one of those curriculums that I spent a lot of money on five years ago, and my child was just sitting down doing colorful worksheets all day long. It didn't work for us. If you're the type that enjoys colorful worksheet type instruction, then Horizons is for you.  

 

Math 

For Kindergarteners, I really don't force the issue. I make a lot of practical math applications thru daily life. We practice writing numbers, basic addition, maybe a hint of subtraction, counting, and comparisons. I'm really lax, overall, with my K's. Play school is still most of their learning, along with lots of reading, and some pre-writing/writing exercises. So I don't use a formal math curriculum with this age group.   

 

First grades and up use Life of Fred. Um, it's amazing. Like times infinity my favorite part of homeschooling besides teaching history. I absolutely LOVE Fred, and my second grade son is obsessed with math now because of him. Just buy all the Fred stuff because you won't regret a dime of it.  

 

Starting in third grade, and because I had yet to learn about Fred, I started with Teaching Textbooks. It's an amazing, amazing computer based math curriculum that keeps grades and records for you. I love it so much and my fourth grader does so well with it I didn't have the heart to switch him to Fred. It's completely different than Fred, but it's equally as loved. Well, almost. 

 

Science  

 I do a lot of science experiments. We also follow Heart of Dakotas science suggestions as much as possible, too. 

 

Elementary aged students LOVE The Magic School Bus science kits. Holy cow do we love these. The only one that was a little bit sketchy was the dinosaur one, but it gave a great opportunity to teach about what evolutionists do believe and how to counter that with the Truth of Creation. These are affordable, hands on kits that are easy for parents and children to do together.  

For a textbook based approach, Apologia anything is awesomeThis year, our co-op (I'll explain a co-op in the next post) is doing Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day. It's such a great science curriculum that's Creation based and very thorough. 

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You can even buy these very cool large spiral science notebooks that pair with the text for additional science fun. Very cool.  

You can even buy these very cool large spiral science notebooks that pair with the text for additional science fun. Very cool.  

 History 

 For K/1st, History for Little Pilgrims is awesome! If you buy the packet, it comes with a teachers guide and a coloring book.

 

For 2nd and up, A First Book in American HistoryAmericans Pioneers and Patriots , annnnndddd all of the other amazing history books out there. ;) I just love history! 

 

The possibilities for teaching history are somewhat endless. Charlie Brown even has a series of historical figures cartoons that are hilarious and very educational. Those can be found on Amazon Prime on your smart tv. There's YouTube videos, documentaries, Civil War Reenactments (if you live in the south), museums, field trips, biographies, and experiences that will offer your child a very rich understanding of times past.  

 

 Spelling/Vocabulary/Handwriting  

After much trial and error. Okay, more error than trial, I finally found a spelling curriculum that I like. It's called Spelling By Sound and Structure, also by Rod and Staff.  

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A Reason for Handwriting is good. People swear by Handwriting Without Tears, although I have yet to try it.  

 

 Final Thoughts 

 Whew! I'm tired. 

 

I hope this is helpful for y'all.  

 

There are large curriculum bundles for homeschoolers that you can just buy and go for it. But, I've chosen a different way because I seriously want my children to have the best homeschooling experience I can give them. I've done the big, expensive packets and I haven't liked that as much as I do in having a foundation piece and then building my own HOMEschool with my favorite materials.  

 

You may choose a different way, and guess what?! THAT's OKAY!!!!! It's beautiful that we have the freedom to pick and choose and learn from what worked and what didn't from other homeschool parents. 

 

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post all about logistics/getting started and I may just add on a final post for all of this homeschool lingo. 

 

Please share this post. And for all of you homeschoolers, cause I know you're out there, share below what YOUR favorites are!!

 

I love you. Please share. It took forever to write. Like five hours forever.

 

Happy Homeschooling!

Alicia