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 science books (17)


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, 10/17/14

In Story of the World this week we checked in with the good people of Australia and New Zealand. One of the things I find most difficult about history is connecting all the corners of the world at once. It's all good and well to look at a thousand years of activity in Europe, or in Asia, or in the Americas, but to study them all concurrently is difficult. Even more difficult is making sure that the corners of the world that we have less written history from are not forgotten or treated as less than equal. For that reason alone, I enjoyed this book. 1000 Years Ago on Planet Earth is not stuffed with enticing facts, really it's full of over simplification, but it does kind of sew the corners together.

In science this week we practiced reading latitude and longitude, and explored the ways that these measurements of the earth were made. It was a pretty fascinating week. I've always taken such things for granted, but now I know the why behind the what. The Illustrated Longitude tells the story of John Harrison and his quest to create a sea clock for determining longitude at sea. This is an adult book, and the illustrations are mainly notes and sketches, but Calvin loved it.

Tom's Midnight Garden is a sweet coming of age story. Tom is packed off to his relatives when his brother comes down with the measles. Unhappy about being stuck in a small country town, one night Tom answers the call of a clock striking thirteen and discovers a secret garden where he make a lifelong friend. Mystery abounds, and ends with a large dose of magic.


And our end the day read is still The Subtle Knife.


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, 10/3/14

We are only one week back from California, and our fall school plan is getting off to a slow and relaxed start. The travel between time zones in the fall, when the daylight hours are slipping away on their own, is brutal.

So history this week was review of the first nine chapters in The Story of the World Volume 2. No stand out books there.

But we did make forward progress in science, cracking the spine on our Buidling Foundations of Scientific Understanding Volume II, and beginning with chapter D-10, the water cycle. It's a favorite subject of mine. It's poetry, art, fairy tale, and science all rolled into one. I have two favorite books from this subject. Water Dance is a beautiful picture book that follows water as it flows from clouds to streams, to oceans, and back. The writing is pretty, the illustrations soft and delightful.

The Day the Great Lakes Drained Away is another really fun water book that we have around. It has simple pictures, and even simpler rhymes, and it doesn't really address the water cycle, focusing more on the physical nature of the Great Lakes themselves, but it also touches on the value of the lakes, and the danger of losing them in the changing climate, and more drastically changing population demographics. And I admit—it's mostly a favorite because we're from Michigan, and we adore the Great Lakes that surround our home.

Again slow on the uptake, Calvin and I haven't yet filled his literature shelf with good choices for the year. Instead he's been filling his "assigned" reading time, and a good portion of his general free time, with what he and I call junk food books. It's October, so spooky is the go-to subject matter, and these American Chillers series books have caught his fancy. Of course, being "junk food" books, he goes through them voraciously, and very, very quickly.

And now that we are back home, we are back to reading The Subtle Knife together before bed...when we have time. Lately that's been only a few nights a week, but I'm hoping that will pick up as we ease into our fall schedule.


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.