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 videos (3)


Weekly book shelf, 4/18/14

In history this week, Ancient China and the Grand Canal (SOTW2 ch. 8). Harrington's book about the history of the Grand Canal is a fantastic non-fiction resource for kids, but it's out of print and hard to come by. We got ours by luck at a used book store.



Another great resource for us was the Engineering an Empire episode on China's engineering the Grand Canal. We love this set. We originally bought it for easy access to the episodes about Egypt and Carthage, but having it on our shelf for all these other topics has been great.


In science this week we are still, still reviewing BFSU Volume 1. But we also started our bird watching practice for the local Science Olympiad that is coming up in about a month. Plus it's migration season, so there are a lot of birds to see. We mainly use the Audubon bird guide or our local Michigan bird guide, but lately we've been using the Peterson youth guide so Calvin could read up on some species identification in the field.


Calvin's literary study this week was Time Cat, by Lloyd Alexander. A boy meets a talking, magical cat that takes them on adventures through time where the pair meet famous historical figures and undergo a variety of adventures good and bad.


And for some extra reading time he read Berkeley Breathed's youth fiction Flawed Dogs. We have his picture book Pete and Pickles and love it, but it's definitely dark and not for everyone. So I read this one first, and it follows the same pattern—dark and not for everyone, but with a sweet message in the backfield. A dog in a loving home is framed for a crime he did not commit and slated for euthanasia. He escapes, and from there withstands terrible abuse and hardship in different situations before finally finding his way back to the girl who loved him first, and redeeming his good name. My only problem with this book is the appearance of an angel at the end who is instrumental in setting everything right. It seems too easy and too out of place.


Weekly book 4/11/14

This week in history, the early China and the Sui and Tang dynasties (SOTW2 ch. 8). We used this book to supplement our study of the Tang dynasty and to highlight a rare female ruler from ancient times. Although it's light on historical detail, it is a decent juvenile non-fiction (or at least historical fiction) and works well as supplementary reading.


We also returned to one of our favorite video series: Legacy, by Michael Wood. Part three of the series, The Mandate of Heaven covers the growth of civilization in China from ancient times to the present. It covers a greater span than we needed, but we've always enjoyed this series, and it helped put things in perspective on the timeline.


This week in science we took a break from our interminable review of BFSU Volume 1 to work a bit in our garden. That did actually spur a review of our earlier plant studies, which prompted Calvin to fish out The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds (which is exactly what we plan to do this weekend after amending the soil this week). The Magic School Bus series is not one of my favorites for many reasons, but Calvin seems to enjoy them, and as long as we only use them as supplements to more detailed science reading, I doubt they do any real harm.

After reading My Side of the Mountain last week, Calvin spotted this other book by Jean Craighead George and opted to give it a try. We didn't give it the same in depth study that we have to Mountain. Instead he read it the same way he always reads good books—voraciously, and then again and again. After the first read, though, I did have him go through it to take notes and write a short review.


Weekly book shelf, 3/28/14

This week in history, Islam became an empire (or at least it did in SOTW2, ch. 7). I found the SOTW book chapter on this subject to be somewhat biased. I don't know if anyone else feels this way, but the chapters as they are written in this (very Christian) history book, use non-neutral adjectives and verbs that portray the history of Islam in a very specific (often violent) light. To combat this we picked up a video from the library, but it turned out be swung rather far in the other direction—propaganda at its best. So I settled for this dry, but pretty neutral and factual history. Simple, straight forward history, easy to read, with good supportive illustrations.

We also went back to our copy of Famous Men of the Middle Ages for chapter 8: Mohammed. I've said this before and will say it again: I love this book. Although it, too, comes with a Christian bias, it is well written in that great turn of the century sort of way. The chapters on each historical dude are short and to the point—great for overviews.

And a history video: from Mankind: The Story of All of Us, season 1, episode 4: Warriors. Good production value makes this blend of history and entertainment fun to watch, but the broad scope cripples its ability to relay information effectively. As a supplement to the study, it was fun.



This week in science: you guessed it. We're still reviewing BFSU Volume 1.

And this week in literature: Jean Craighead George's My Side of the Mountain. The touching story of a young boy who runs away from his family to spend a year living on their untouched forest land in the Catskill Mountains. Detailed descriptions of his steps for survival as well as his interactions with wildlife are beautiful and inspiring. A true modern classic.

Plus Calvin finished making his way through the Hardy Boys series. And now he's starting back through them again.