Books We Are Using This Year
  • The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    by Jeff West,S. Wise Bauer,Jeff (ILT) West, Susan Wise Bauer
  • Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    by Bernard J Nebel PhD
  • Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    by Steven P. Demme
  • First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    by -Author-
  • Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    by Mona Brookes
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Entries in history books (17)


Weekly book shelf, 11/14/14

This week in history: Vikings! (SOTW ch. 14)

We have used many books in the "Biographies from Ancient Civilizations" series, and I keep coming back to them. They provide information that is far more detailed, and far more correct, than that which is provided by Story of the World. In this chapter in particular I was disappointed by several pieces of misleading, if not outright incorrect, information. We relied on Erik the Red a lot this time around, and really enjoyed reading it together.

This happy little Usborne book really caught Calvin's fancy; he drew long houses and dragon boats all afternoon after reading it. Focused more on their general way of life than on the details of any particular Norsemen, this picture book is full of charming cartoon-like sketches and good-natured humor.

East O' the Sun and West O' the Moon is a collection of traditional Norse fairy and folk tales. It reads with the same dark magic as books like Lang's Fairy Books, or the works of Grimm brothers. Wild tales with unimaginable hardships and unforeseen outcomes. The old tales didn't at all shy away from death and disfigurement. They're fascinating, and we really enjoyed them together.

And because he couldn't get enough of Vikings this week, Calvin also read two books about them for his free reading. Beorn the Proud is anther title from the "Living History Library" series. It is the story of a young girl who believes she was the only survivor after her town was destroyed by Viking invaders. She is taken captive, and is eventually befriended by a Viking boy. Calvin couldn't put this book down, but he found large parts of it heartbreaking. Thankfully it comes with a happy ending.

And Life as a Viking is a choose your own adventure type of book (from the "You Choose Warriors" series). These books are truly just for fun, but fun they certainly are. Since there are books from several different eras we will probably pick up others as we wend our way through history. Just for fun.

In science this week: protecting our food and other things from fungi and bacteria (BFSU2 B-17). All of our energy was focused on seeing and understanding this time, rather than reading, so hands-on activities instead of books.

But in literature this week, a fun treat. In Building Poems we were studying Rime Royal, so we read Chaucer's Parlement of Foules together. I read it aloud from a modern English translation while Calvin followed along with an Olde English approximation. When we reach Chaucer in history we will revisit the poem again, and if we're lucky that will be around Valentine's Day.

Lastly, Calvin is still making his way through the "Chronicles of Prydain" series, this week devouring book three, The Castle of Llyr. He really loves these books and has been heard wandering around the house pretending to be one or another of the characters and talking to others. Our home is a great forest of adventure these days.

Lastly, we are still reading The Subtle Knife together most night's before bed.


Weekly book shelf, 11/7/14

This week in history: Charlemagne (SOTW2 ch. 13).

Two main books this week. This first we didn't read in its entirety, but only large sections of. These books are great in information, not so hot on delivery—they are too much like the overly busy DK books with multiple side bars and insets and too many odd icons cluttering things up. But they are a good source of factual instead of fanciful information.

The Son of Charlemagne is historical fiction. It comes from the "Living History Library", a series of about fifty historical fiction biographies from a wide variety of eras. The series is endorsed by Christian homeschooling sites everywhere, and I believe it was written for that exact purpose, so the stories are clean and tend to have a bit of that bias, but they are well written and enlightening, really bringing the time period to life for the young reader. This is not the first book from the series that we've used, and I know that Calvin has found them easy to read and hard to put down. They make great supplementary history reading, but some are hard to find in libraries.

In science this week we were still in the land of the decomposers (BFSU2 lesson B-16), so we were still using Steve Parker's Molds, Mushrooms, & Other Fungi. We also used a few mushroom field guides just for fun.

For his reading comprehension notebook this week, Calvin flew through The Black Cauldron. In this second book in "The Chronicles of Prydain", Taran continues his quest to become a hero with a number of friends, new and old. Together they must find a way to destroy the Black Cauldron so that the evil Arawn can no longer use it to raise the evil army of the dead. Adventure packed and very exciting, it's easy to see why this series has remained in print for so long.

And some extra reading: "The Secrets of Droon" book series. I think he read the whole series this week, getting one pile of books after another from the library. These books are really easy reading, and pretty poorly written. I consider them the junkiest of junk food reading. But they are an imaginative world of magic, which is something that Calvin loves, and I don't believe a little junk food reading has ever hurt anyone.

And we're still reading The Subtle Knife before bed at night.


Weekly book shelf, 10/10/14

In history this week we reviewed the middle ages as a whole. We revisited the fall of the Roman Empire and the arrival of the Angles and Saxons in Britain. So no new books this week.

In science we explored plate tectonics, volcanoes, and earthquakes (BFSU2 D-11). Calvin is fond of natural disasters, so this was at the top of his list. We used Seymour Simon's Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Mountains for this. Simon's Smithsonian books are my go-to series for simple science reading.

Also in science, in preparation for next week's study of latitude and longitude, Calvin read  The Longitude Prize, an historical fiction representation of the story of John Harrison, inventor of the longitude calculating sea clock, lifesaver of sailors everywhere.

I'm slow to get going this semester, and Calvin's comprehension reading shelf is still empty. Instead, this week he revisited an old favorite in the Moomin' series, those beloved fantasy tales by the Finnish Tove Jansson. This series was a favorite of mine, my brother's, and Jon's back in the day, and it makes Calvin smile just as much.

And we're still reading The Subtle Knife before bed at night.


Weekly book shelf, 5/30/14

Summer is here. This year we'll actually be taking a break from planned or formal scooling for the summer months. Instead we'll be focusing on exploring topics of interest, on reading lots of good stuff, and on learning from life, especially in the great outdoors. We have some trips planned, both near and far, and some fun activities coming up, too. Of course that means we'll be doing less sitting at a table, and I'll be doing less record keeping, so for the summer I'll also be taking a break from the weekly bookshelves. Instead, I'll be updating once a month with some of our favorite titles from month.

That makes this the last weekly bookshelf until September. Until then look for monthly book shelves, and maybe a few reviews or other things that come our way, or stop by to read our journal and find out what we're up to. Happy summer!

In history this week we reviewed our previou study of ancient China. With everything that we've had going on, and all the extra reading that Calvin's been wanting to do, it's been hard to move forward in history. I think that's fine—one of the great things about homeschooling is the flexibility to work around interests and schedules—so we've slowed down a bit. This is actually a book I got from the library when we first went through SOTW2 ch. 6 on China, and only this week did we have time to actually look at it. It's pretty lite, so we paired it with some fun tangram play.

Science has been a little easier to get to this week, but we're off script. Calvin expressed a great interest in Nicola Tesla, so I encouraged him to pick a few books to bring home. This book was a standard jouvenile biography, complete with timelines and photographs, but it was not at all a science book, and provided no information on Tesla's methods, research, or findings.


Tesla's Attic is a pure fiction adventure story about a young boy, Nick, who moves into a house where he is surprised by strange goings on in the attic. He and his new friends learn, after selling off many of the odd items from the attic, that the house had been a final resting place for many of Tesla's last unknown inventions. They then set about retrieving all the odds and ends they'd let go, and adventure ensues. Calvin enjoyed it, but even he said it was a little lite. Not at all what I expected, I would not condsider this an historical fiction relating to Tesla at all.

Of course the week was dominated by Harry Potter reading. I could have limited the reading time and forced some focus on other subjects, but the sweet smells of spring and the increasingly warm sunshine filled me wtih a sense of good will and for some free time to work in the garden, bought with copious free reading time for Calvin, of course. So this week Calvin finished the Harry Potter series with book 5 (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), book 6 (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), and the final book, book 7 (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows).

We are on our second week of Golden Compass this week, too. A favorite of mine, and Calvin is loving it as well.


Weekly book shelf, 5/23/14

In history this week we are mainly reviewing—stuck getting familiar with medieval China. Lon Po Po a book that we've had on our shelf and enjoyed for many years. It is a retelling of the Red Riding Hood tale in which three young girls (rather brutally) do away with the wolf. Stunning visuals add to the richness of the story in this book.

In science, after a few weeks hiatus already, we are still off script, only now we are more thoroughly exploring the human body. Calvin is preparing a project to enter at the 4H Youth Show that will demonstrate his knowledge of the body systems, something he learned quite a bit about over the year. Jakab's Our Body series (about the Circulatory, Nervous, Respiratory, Muscular, and Skeletal systems) has been immensely helpful on this study.

Lastly, and long awaited, Calvin has finally discovered the Harry Potter books. It happened when he put on a pair of toy glasses and my mother commented that he looked like Harry Potter. The books have been on his shelf awaiting his interest for years, but all of a sudden he decided there was no time to waste in plowing through them. And I really do mean no time to waste—he read the first four books in the series (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) this week and is already starting on book 5.

And we started a new read aloud this week. The His Dark Materials series is a long time favorite of mine and I've been looking forward to the time when Calvin wanted to read it with me (I'm not willing to let him read it alone—I want to discover it again with him). So we started it this week, and I was right—he's entirely in love with the idea of daemons.