Homeschool Update: Finished Sonlight’s Level B, moving on to C

Well, more or less moving on to C. We’re trying out the mostly equivalent Bookshark Level 2. There are a handful of differences between them, mostly that Bookshark is secular so it skips the Bible component and missionary stories, and it’s also a 4-day a week schedule.

bookshark-level-2In Sonlight’s level B, G covered the first half of world history – emphasizing Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and Ancient Rome. It was a really fun year, which makes me that much more excited to move onto the second half of world history. Vikings! Knights and Castles! I love Medieval history and I can’t wait to try and get G to love it too. 🙂

We’ll be doing Sonlight’s LA 3 (I already had it on hand), and I have the Bookshark Level 2 Advanced/Sonlight 4/5 Readers on hand if we need additional readers. So far I’ve used library books or a few I’ve bought for him as extra readers.

I do plan to continue adding on Story of the World Volume 2 (it worked very well adding Volume 1 to level B), and I’m also adding back in three books that were in C in previous years – Explorer’s News, Maps and Globes, and The Awesome Book of Bible Facts.

I was not planning on using Window on the World (that’s part of why I went with Bookshark – it doesn’t include it), but my son saw it online, and specifically asked for it. It’s hard to say no to a request for a book, so ok kid, I’ll add it back in.

This isn’t a full planning-for-third-grade post, just a quick look at the big changes going on with us for school. He’s now finished his first week with the new level, so at some point I’ll share my thoughts on the full comparison between Sonlight and Bookshark.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Recent Readaloud: Owls in the Family

Owls in the FamilyOwls in the Family by Farley Mowat

One of G’s school books, and I’ve heard about this title before, but had never read it. I’m so glad it was included in the curriculum, because it was such a enjoyable read, and worked really well as a readaloud!

Listeners who are sensitive may be troubled by some scenes, and it is a bit dated (it was published originally in 1961), but my 4 & 6 year olds had no trouble with it.

My verdict:

Charming story about a boy who has two owls as pets. I was sad to reach the end of it, and have looked for additional titles by Mowat.

The kids’ verdict:
They both really enjoyed it. I think both kids were intrigued (and a bit jealous) of the freedom the boys in the story had.

Publisher’s Description:
Farley Mowat’s funniest book tells the adventures of Wol and Weeps, two owls from Saskatchewan who shape up a whole neighbourhood, turn a house topsy-turvy, and outsmart Mutt, the dog hero of The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be. Wol brings dead skunks to the family dinner table and terrorizes the minister, the postman, and the French teacher. Weeps is a comical bird, afraid of everything except Mutt, and he never does learn how to fly. Here is the heartwarming story of how a boy named Billy finds Wol and Weeps and unwittingly adds two new members to the family.

Book Details

Title: Owls in the Family
Author: Farley Mowat
Category: Children’s Nonfiction
My Rating: 4 Stars

Find the book: Print | Goodreads

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: The Lady and the Panda

Homeschooling Kindergarten, Round Two: The Plans

This August will mark something new: my first time officially homeschooling TWO students.

The Familiar

Sonlight Core P 4 5While I already have the same Sonlight material I used so successfully with my oldest for his Kindergarten year, I was not completely enthusiastic about doing it again exactly the same. Apparently I get bored easily. 🙂

So, in the interests of keeping my interest level high, I’m making some adaptations for my daughter’s year. Here’s the plan:

I will still be doing Sonlight’s P 4/5 level, more or less. I will almost certainly skip the Uncle Wiggly book again – while I’d like to say that I’ll try it and see if H likes it more than G did, I probably won’t because *I* hated reading the book so much. Sorry kiddo! I have the sequel to Milly Molly Mandy and will add it in instead.

I will skip some of the Children’s Book of Virtues – I really liked some of the stories and poems in the book, and really disliked others, so I’ll stick to the ones I enjoyed and skip the ones I didn’t.

The New

BYL K Around the WorldThe plan (this could change if things do not go well, or if life gets overwhelming) is to add in the Build Your Library Kindergarten schedule, more or less. It’s a round-the-world plan, which looks fun, and I already owned several of the books. I like the idea of spending some time in each continent, and we can add extra picture books from the library. It has a few simple crafts projects, and they may even be simple enough for me to manage them. It also schedules in cooking projects, and the kids are SUPER excited about that.

It’s unlikely I would have added this in if it wasn’t such an inexpensive option – I spotted it during a sale and so got it for under $20. I did spend a bit more adding some of the books for it (the spines for the year; the others I’ll get from the library) but they’re all really nice books I don’t mind adding to my collection.

Language Arts

AAR 1 Activity BookFor reading instruction, I’ll follow H’s lead. She says she wants to learn how to, but I’ve tried All About Reading Level 1 with her and she wasn’t quite ready back in February when she first asked. I would rather not push her at all and wait until she really is ready. I expect once that happens she’ll fly through it like her brother did.

Just to try something new, I got her the Reason for Handwriting book. I suspect not having her do everything exactly like her brother did will be a good thing for her, and handwriting is an easy one to vary. Her handwriting is already far ahead of where his was at that age, and I wouldn’t be all that surprised if she passes him this year.


I’ve got the same Mathematical Reasoning books I used with G waiting for her as well, and she’s been happily using some of the Preschool ones from them. Since I already have Miquon books, I may give them another try and let her play with them a bit.


Berenstain Bear's Big Book of Science and NatureIt’s already included in both the Sonlight P 4/5 guide and BYL K guide, and I’ll likely do both, since it’s almost entirely reading science books. The Sonlight books were some of our favorites for that entire year, and I know she’s going to love hearing them – my son saw the Berenstain Bears and How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World books in the pile I was showing her and got so excited for her that she was going to get to hear them. Plus I’m a big fan of the Robert Wells books included (and I bought a couple extras from that series I like them so much). I’m halfway considering adding another science curriculum to the mix, again, just to keep from doing the exact same things as I did with her brother. That’s a big “maybe.”


Sonlight schedules the 101 Favorite Stories from the Bible, and I’ll probably read those and then move into another story Bible when we finish that one. I think with her brother the next one we read was the Jesus Storybook Bible (love that one!) and I may do the same with her. Or I’m considering a curriculum I can do with both of them together, but that’s still up in the air a bit as I haven’t found anything that looks like what I want and is appropriate for their ages.


The Deliberate Reader US and Canada GeoPuzzleShe’s continuing with taekwondo, and is currently a senior orange belt. Awana will start up again in September, and it’ll be her first year in Sparks – she is *so* excited about that!

She’s asked to do soccer in the fall, so I’m looking into that possibility. She also desperately wants to take dance lessons, so it’s another option I’ve got to investigate.

And of course I’ve got all the fun Timberdoodle games and materials that I used with her brother at this age. I know I’ll pull out the GeoPuzzles (these are SO AWESOME) and Lift the Flap Picture Atlas as we go to each new continent. She’s also wanting to use the Look Inside Your Body they include in their Kindergarten kits, and I may get her some of the art items for her birthday – she LOVES art. I did get her a world coloring book to add in with her geography studies – it was so inexpensive I couldn’t resist.

That’s the plan for the year, but I’m sure there will be some modifications as we go. I have no idea how it will really be doing school with two, but I anticipate the real challenge coming from the youngest, who will turn two right after we start back to school.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Planning Ahead for Second Grade

Sonlight Core B Readers 2As of yesterday (!) we’ve finished Sonlight Core A (what I’d planned for G’s first grade year), so it’s time to look ahead at what the plans are for second grade. Which yes, technically begins in August, but acknowledging that these are the plans for that year helps me keep things organized, both around the blog and in my brain. 🙂

Using Core A for first grade worked really well – it would not have been as successful for his Kindergarten year, so I’m glad we held off on it. The last 9 weeks of the core went very fast, so we’ll be getting an earlier start on Core A than I originally expected. The same thing happened last year – I think we both see the new material waiting for us and can’t wait to dive into it!

The plan (as it stands now) is to move right into Core B, then breaking for summer in mid-June. We’ll pick back up with school work in mid-August, when the local schools go back. I’ll just stop the Core wherever we are, and begin again when we restart. If we’re in the middle of a chapter book I’ll probably finish it though!

This fall will mark the first year school is officially required for my son, but because of the laws in Indiana that won’t make much difference to what we do. I’ve already been tracking his attendance and keeping records for myself – more than what the state requires.

Core B will cover history and Bible. It’s the first half of World History, and I am *so* excited to really start diving into history with him – so far we’ve mostly just touched lightly on historical topics and the history nerd in me is anxious to go a little deeper into the past.

Sticker Dressing Greek MythsWhile there are many possibilities for extra books that will touch on the topics covered in this Core, I have two already on the shelf that will add a hands-on element which is usually a struggle for me. Ancient Egypt Sticker Book, and Sticker Dressing Greek Myths look like they’ll be hugely popular with G. And Look Inside Mummies & Pyramids is a lift-the-flap book so not really hands-on, but still interactive.

What I’m still considering adding is The Story of the World (and it’s Activity Book), as well as History Pockets: Ancient Civilizations and Famous Figures of Ancient Times. It all depends on just how much I want to try and stretch the Core, and how far my budget will stretch. 😉

Language Arts

LA 2The main framework will once again be Sonlight, in this case LA 2, which will be really easy on the reading, but a better fit for everything else. G’s already finished all of the levels in All About Reading, so he doesn’t need any more reading instruction, just practice. Besides the readers from LA 2 I’ll add in extra books from the library and Usborne.

My First Story Writing BookLast year we did the Daily 6 Trait Writing I found thanks to Timberdoodle. He loved it, but it was so easy. I haven’t decided if I want to get it again. It’s very much written for a school setting, and I think it’s already covered through Sonlight’s LA so I’ll probably skip it. If he really misses it I can probably be persuaded to get it again though, but I may look at jumping him up a level. Or, what I’m *really* thinking about doing is using My First Story Writing Book, which we have and looks super fun.

Last year we also did Language Smarts B that was another discovery from Timberdoodle. I didn’t like the way it was organized (I’d have preferred it to spiral more, like Mathematical Reasoning books also published by the same company) but G loved it, and pleaded to get it again. So yeah, we’ll be doing Language Smarts C this year. 😉 It’s mostly grammar, and it isn’t really necessary, but when he begs to do it, how can I resist?

I’m also adding in the Sonlight-recommended (and scheduled) resources Wordly Wise A and Explode the Code 4. Depending on how useful I think ETC 4 is, I may or may not add 5 & 6 which are also recommended and scheduled by Sonlight to go along with LA 2.

Not Your Everyday Illustrated ThesaurusAs a possible read-aloud or reference to go along with other LA materials, I’ve got Not-Your-Everyday Illustrated Thesaurus. It may not work as a read-aloud, but we’ll see. I like it a lot, but we’ll see what my son thinks of it. 🙂

A final possibility is another readaloud: Word FunWord Fun by Michael Dahl and Nancy Loewen, illustrated by Sara Gray is a picture book about the eight parts of speech. It’s got fun illustrations and should be entertaining.

Handwriting continues with Getty-Dubay’s Italic Writing (he’ll be in book C) and copywork practice.

Spelling has also been going well, so it’ll just continue on – most of second grade will use All About Spelling, Level 3 (he’s currently on his final step in Level 2). Whenever he finishes that he’ll move on to Level 4.


Homeschooling Math Early Second GradeI just posted a math update, so I’ll summarize that here. He’s currently in Math Mammoth (MM) 2B and Mathematical Reasoning C. I like how they complement each other well, but don’t know that I’ll continue using both after he finishes them. Probable plans are to go into MM 3A and then try out Beast Academy (BA) 3A once he finishes MM 2B. I am also considering having him finish MM 3A and 3B before starting BA 3A because it’s such a challenging program.

That’s a couple of months away though, so we’ll see what happens.

Times Tables Activity BookUntil then, because G loves activity books so much, I’m considering getting him Usborne’s Times Tables Activity Book. I think he’s already got their Lift-the-Flap Times Tables coming to him from Grandma, or else I’d probably be getting that as well.

I’m also just starting to look for an app or game for him to practice his multiplication facts. He will start learning that next month or so, and I want him to learn them really well, because I never did and know how helpful it would have been in later grades if I had.


Science BWe’re about a month away from finishing up Sonlight’s Science A (we didn’t worry much about keeping it on the same schedule as the Core). Once that’s finished I’ll get their Science B, because I really liked their style of science for this level – it’s mostly good books. I also like how they’ve got videos for the experiments so even if I don’t get them done he can at least watch it.

I’m still considering finishing Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy, which we got halfway through during his Kindergarten year. I have the book, so it seems like of course we should, but I’m unmotivated to get back to it – I don’t love how it’s written or organized.

Other science-related readalouds we’ll get to this year will likely include the Wile E. Coyote Physical Science graphic novels, which were a Christmas gift for G this year. They remind me a lot of the Max Axiom graphic novels, which he loved.

100 Things to Know About ScienceLast year I ended up reading him the First Illustrated Science Dictionary, and it was a nice companion to the rest of Science A. This year I’ve already got 100 Things to Know About Science waiting – we’ll start it next week. I may not do well at getting experiments done, but I can read books to them!

Under consideration if I decide we need still more science: Science in the Beginning. Seems like it could be a fun one to go along with our history, but I’m not sure if I’ll like it more than the Apologia text; it’s still a textbook, even if I’m reading good things about it.


G is finishing up his 2nd year in AWANA’s Sparks program. We’re at a new location and overall I think it’s a better fit for us from a scheduling standpoint (Sunday night vs. Wednesday night). I do plan to have him continue with it next year. My big decision right now with it is whether or not to have H move into Sparks next year, or to hold her back for another year of Cubbies. She’s not ready for Sparks yet, but by August it may be obvious that she is. I’m reminding myself that in February of G’s final Cubbies year I was also doubting that he’d be ready for Sparks in the fall and he absolutely was.

G continues to advance in taekwondo. He’ll be testing for his blue belt tomorrow and H will be testing for her orange belt.

Step-by-Step DrawingWe’re very inconsistent about getting art or music appreciation done. I’m hoping to do better at that this year. My goal is to intentionally plan Fridays to be a light day, and then do some of that with the time. I still have Harmony Fine Arts to finish, and I also received a Step by Step Drawing book which looks like it will be really easy to add to our days.

Follow Along on Pinterest

I’ve set up a Pinterest board with all of these things, and am planning on adding the books I use to supplement. Sonlight does have a lot of books, but it’s still not enough for me. Especially since I want to stretch Core B!

I also set up a board with other ideas and possibilities. These are things I’m considering, and if I end up using them I’ll move them to the other board. Don’t worry that I’m going to overload my son by trying all of the things that may be on this board – these are my *possibilities* and I’m using the board as a way to remember those possibilities.

Recent Sequel Readalouds

I’m getting backlogged on writing about our readalouds (we’re moving through them faster now) so here’s a post catching me up to date on some of the sequels and pseudo-sequels I’ve read to my son, with my daughter listening in as she wants.

More Milly Molly MandyMore Milly-Molly-MandyMore Milly-Molly-Mandy by Joyce Lankester Brisley by Joyce Lankester Brisley

We’re all fans of Milly-Molly-Mandy, and this book is a not-essential sequel to the Sonlight book we read last year, The Milly-Molly-Mandy StorybookThe Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook by Joyce Lankester Brisley. If you liked the first set of stories, you’ll likely enjoy this as well. It’s more of the same, with no surprises. However, it’s not really necessary to have read the first book, as you’ll quickly catch up on the setting and characters. These are excellent first-chapter books, as each chapter stands on its own, and helps develop those listening skills.

Penny and PeterPenny and PeterPenny and Peter by Carolyn Haywood by Carolyn Haywood

This sequel picks up right where Here’s a Penny left off. This book has a lot less of his next door friend, and the focus is instead on Peter as well as Penny (no surprise with the title). Another one where if you liked the first, you’ll probably like this one too. I would recommend not reading this one before Here’s a Penny – you’ll spoil yourself as far as some particulars go.

Dolphin TreasureDolphin TreasureDolphin Treasure by Wayne Grover, illustrated by Jim Fowler by Wayne Grover, illustrated by Jim Fowler

My son was not into this one as much as the first book, Dolphin Adventure. I’m not sure why, as I felt they were pretty similar stories, although this one did take a bit longer to get to the point of any significant action. That’s probably enough of a reason for him to have been less interested in it. 🙂

Five True Dog StoriesFive True Dog StoriesFive True Dog Stories by Margaret Davidson by Margaret Davidson

A sentimental favorite for me, as I’d read this as a child, and recognized the stories and the illustrations. My son really liked 4 of the stories, but one of them did not keep his interest at all. I prefer this book to the Five True Horse Stories, so if you’re debating between them, go for this one. And yes, this isn’t a true sequel, but more of another book in a similar style.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Two years ago: Book Review: Buried in the Sky by Peter Zuckerman and Amanda Padoan
Three years ago: Reading Less / Reading More

Recent Readaloud: No Children, No Pets

No Children No PetsNo Children, No Pets by Marion Holland

An unexpectedly enjoyable book. It’s an older title, and can be hard to track down, but it was included with our Sonlight Core A readalouds. If your library doesn’t have it and you have trouble locating it, it’s not an absolute must-read (in other words, don’t go to extreme effort or expense to find a copy), but if you can easily obtain it, it was fun to readaloud.

The Florida setting was one of my favorite parts (I am partial to it, as that’s where I grew up), and the slight mystery included in the plot held my son’s interest to the point where we read the last four chapters in one day – we both wanted to find out how everything resolved!

A warning though: it is old-fashioned, especially with occasional remarks about “women’s work.” If you are adamantly opposed to books with that sort of thing in it, you’ll likely want to pass on it.

Find the book: It’s out of print, and used copies are very expensive on Amazon. Sonlight has republished it themselves, and you may still be better off buying a copy from them and paying their shipping fees | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Three children and their widowed mother inherit a run-down apartment building in Florida. A sign on the front door says “No Children, No Pets.” Adventure awaits as the kids solve lingering mysteries and help fix up the building. A satisfying childhood tale that keeps you guessing what will happen next.

Book Details

Title: No Children, No Pets
Author: Marion Holland
Category: Juvenile Fiction
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
Two years ago: Book Review: Code Name Pauline by Pearl Witherington Cornioley and Kathryn J. Atwood
Three years ago: Biggest Disappointments of 2012

Homeschooling Update: 2/3 of the way through Core A

Core A IG CoverWhile it seems impossible to me, we’re currently on week 24 of our 36 week schedule for Sonlight’s Core A. So what was going to be a halfway-done update has turned into a two-thirds finished one instead.

(Curious about how the rest of the year has gone? Read our last update here.)

What’s Still Working

We’re still using the daily checklist to structure the day, and the extent of my planning is writing down the next day’s assignments on that card. Since that takes no more effort than looking at what the Sonlight instructor’s guide says to do, or what the next pages are for math, reading, and handwriting, this is blissfully simple.

Most of our school work is currently being done on our still somewhat new-to-us enclosed porch. What is very new is the loveseat we now have on it – perfect for reading aloud. I’m on the lookout for a great deal on a different table, as I hate the one we have out there, but it’s a low priority unless we do find one at a price I can’t resist. I like being able to look out at the backyard and see the trees and squirrels and birds while we work.

Family-Time BibleThe continuing readalouds are all going well (history, poetry, etc.). We have finished the Bible we were reading, The Story for ChildrenThe Story for Children, a Storybook Bible, and have now started using Family-Time Bible in PicturesFamily-Time Bible in Pictures by Kenneth N. Taylor.

I keep adding in extra readalouds, like lots of picture books (yes, still, even for G as a 1st grader), plus additional chapter books. I’m skeptical that when H gets to this Core (and definitely M 3 years after that, assuming we’re still using Sonlight) that I’ll be making any effort to add extra books to our reading day, but for now the schedule isn’t enough readalouds for us. Getting more books from the library is easy enough, and lets us have lots of variety, plus there are plenty of sequels to the books already scheduled in Core A.

What’s Not Working

Or, more accurately titled “what’s especially challenging right now.” But that was a lot longer and didn’t parallel the other title as well. 🙂

Middle sister “H” is wanting to do school, but it’s usually just seems to mean interrupting whatever her brother is doing. She had been playing so nicely by herself for 20 – 30 minute stretches before, but right now that hasn’t been happening.

Baby sister “M” is also much more challenging, as she is into EVERYTHING. She can also reach up and grab things off of tables, so we have to watch and make sure anything she shouldn’t have is well out of reach. No more just cuddling her on my lap and reading!

Art & Music have not been happening. At all. Clearly I need to figure out a way to make it happen or else acknowledge that it’s not a priority while the baby is such a menace as far as getting into things. It is just a stage, although I don’t remember how long the other two were in it…

For similar reasons, we’ve done absolutely none of the experiments scheduled with the science curriculum. I may need to just take a week and do nothing but science experiments, but that sounds miserable for me. (I am not a fan of science experiments). Maybe grandma will come for a visit soonish and I can rope her into helping, or at least helping by keeping the toddler out of the way! 🙂

What’s New Since Last Time

Math Mammoth 2AG finished Math Mammoth 1, and has started 2. He likes it, I like it, and fingers crossed it continues to work well.

As of next week (assuming things don’t fall apart between now and then) he’ll finish All About Reading Level 4 (!) and be done with official reading instruction. Then it’ll be all about practice!

H wants to learn to read, and I told her I’d start teaching her in January. Yes, I am making her wait until her brother finishes his reading lessons – it only pushed her back a couple of weeks and it seemed like it’d be easier on me.

I added in an extra science text – The Usborne First Illustrated Science Dictionary. It does have some overlap with the encyclopedia we’re using as the science spine, but not really all that much. G likes it, and the Sonlight schedule is a little light on science for his tastes, so this way we have something to read every day, whether an encyclopedia entry from the schedule, or a section from the dictionary.

Other Updates

H has also moved up to the “big kid” classes in taekwondo. She’s “officially” too young for them still, but she was more than ready, so they’re letting her go for it. While for the next two months this may make my life more of a challenge (her class times are kind of obnoxious, when paired with G’s), in February she’ll hopefully pass her next belt test and move to a better class time. So work hard these next months kiddo, and pass that test!

Where her new classes will help is with getting school done during the morning. Her previous class schedule included 11:30 classes on Monday and Wednesday morning. While theoretically we “should” be able to get everything done before leaving for her class, it was a challenge, and almost never happened. Now those days can be like the rest of the week, and that should make our mornings easier.

And if she does pass that belt test in February, I may have FOUR MONTHS where both kids are in the same class again. Four glorious months of only one class time to attend (and keep the baby happy during). At that point G (if he keeps passing belt tests) would move up to the final class level and they’d be back in separate classes, but those two class times work together reasonably well for me. At least as they’re currently scheduled. 🙂

Looking Ahead

Sonlight Core B IG CoverAssuming we don’t hit any major bumps, we *should* finish Core A in late February or early March. That’s including lots of days off along the way. I have Core B ready to start (well, some of it’s currently on loan to a friend, but I’ll have it back by then), and I *think* we may be able to finish 9 weeks of it before breaking for the summer.

Because yes, I am planning on having this summer be like last summer: about 7 -8 weeks off to go to VBS and taekwondo camp, play with the neighbor kids outside, and have lots of time for going to the park or other outings.

Although I reserve the right to change my mind in any way regarding schedules and plans. 😉

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: What the Kids are Reading (in December 2014)
Two years ago: Bookworm Problems: I’ve Got Them
Three years ago: Favorite eBooks

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Recent Readaloud: Mary on Horseback

Mary on HorsebackMary On Horseback: Three Mountain StoriesMary On Horseback: Three Mountain Stories by Rosemary Wells by Rosemary Wells

Don’t avoid this book, thinking it’s only for children. It’s a trio of well-told stories about Mary Breckinridge, who founded the Frontier Nursing Service in rural Kentucky after World War I. It’s not a true biography, but just a set of vignettes from her life.

Although it made me wish for a real biography about her – what an amazing woman! I did find an autobiography, but some reviews make me think it wouldn’t have the focus I’d want. I may or may not search it out.

As a readaloud, it’s one of the more challenging ones I’ve read to my son. The chapters are longer than most of what we read, and the topic wasn’t as immediately compelling for him. He listened to it, but was glad we never read more than one chapter a day. I wouldn’t use this with kids who aren’t already used to listening to chapter books.

If you’re homeschooling or just looking to supplement other schooling, this could work well as a readaloud for elementary school about the early 20th century in America. It appears to be a fairly popular library title, so it might be easy to try it for your family.

Recommended, for the right audience.

My verdict:

Loved it, even if it did make me teary-eyed at times.

The kids’ verdict:

G (6) thought it was ok. H (4) did not stick around for it. It’s a better fit for older listeners.

Find the book: Print | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
In 1923, Mary Breckinridge (who had been a nurse in WWI) learned about the nonexistent medical facilities in Appalachian Kentucky, and founded the Frontier Nursing Service — a group of women who traveled by horseback to isolated mountain residents to provide medical care. These three compelling, poignant stories, each with a different narrator – a boy whose father almost loses his leg; a nurse in training; a mute young girl who realizes she might have a career in medicine – show Mary’s effect on the people and world around her, brought to vivid life by master storyteller Rosemary Wells.

Book Details

Title: Mary On Horseback: Three Mountain StoriesMary On Horseback: Three Mountain Stories by Rosemary Wells
Author: Rosemary Wells
Category: Children’s Nonfiction

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie
Two years ago: Book Review: Waiting at Joe’s by Deeny Kaplan Lorber
Three years ago: Author Interview with Annie Downs

Homeschooling Update: Finished with the First Quarter of Core A

Sonlight Core A 1st Quarter CompletedLast week we finished week 9 of Sonlight’s Core A, which is the backbone for our homeschooling year. Something about finishing a quarter seems like a real accomplishment, and that I need to stop thinking of us as having just started the curriculum. 🙂

Structuring Our Day

Daily checklist September 2015Last year I briefly tried writing the day’s tasks in a spiral notebook (idea found via Catherine I believe), but that didn’t last long. What works better for us is a 3×5 card, flipped sideways, where I write the tasks. Why the difference? I’m not entirely sure. Some of it might be because there is more limited space that way, and some of it may be because when we’re done he gets to throw the card away (a.k.a. put it in the recycling bin), so it’s more satisfying.

Whatever the reason, it’s working well for us, so I’m continuing with it.

Daily assignments are done in no particular order, although we do usually have to work around the baby’s needs. Some of the readalouds happen while they eat breakfas – it’s helped break the watching tv in the morning habit we fell into over the summer, so I’m happy to continue with it lest they start asking for a show again.

History & Geography

Ongoing reads:

Usborne Children's EncyclopediaThe Children’s EncyclopediaThe Usborne Children’s Encyclopedia endures as the biggest hit of the entire curriculum – G loves it so much. Most days he clicks through the links that are included as well – they’re hit-or-miss, but every so often he finds a real gem, so it’s worth trying them all.

Living Long AgoThe Usborne Book of Living Long Ago: Everyday life through the Ages (Explainers Series) is still lots of fun, although I wish I’d remember to look ahead and see what projects are mentioned in it – they look like some easy ways to add a hands-on element to the curriculum. G really wanted to make a ruff like they wore back in the day, and I was scrambling to find some paper that would work.

Our substitute for I Heard Good News Today is The Story of ExplorationThe Story of Exploration, and I am quite impressed with it. Invariably I learn something new from each section, and feel compelled to pass it along to my husband. I really enjoyed the section on Marco Polo, and now want to read more about him. What an incredible story!

New this month

Sticker Dressing ExplorersWe’ve added in Sticker Dressing – Explorers, which combines beautifully with that Story of Exploration book. So much fun, and the easiest hands-on-element I can imagine. Love this book! G is always delighted when it’s time to do another page in it.

Read Alouds

Ongoing reads:

The Llama Who Had No PajamaWe continue to read from the poetry books The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother GooseThe Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose: A Treasury of More Than 300 Classic Nursery Rhymes and The Llama Who Had No Pajama, although our pacing has slowed down; we’re roughly on schedule with what the Instructor’s Guide says.

New since last time

In Grandma's AtticIn Grandma’s AtticIn Grandma's Attic (Grandma's Attic Series) by Arleta Richardson. I tried, really I did, but I’ve shelved this one. I hoped it would be like Little House books, and I think it wants to be, but the framing of each story is clunky, and the moralizing is heavy-handed. It was disappointing, especially because when Amazon had a sale on the other books in the series I bought them all. At least they were inexpensive, because I don’t think we’ll be reading them.

Here's a PennyHere’s a PennyHere's a Penny by Carolyn Haywood and Penny and PeterPenny and Peter by Carolyn Haywood. We liked Here’s a Penny enough to get the sequel, which I finished reading last week. Cute, old-fashioned stories that my kids enjoyed. Did they love them as much as some other books? No, but that’s ok.

5 True Horse StoriesFive True Horse StoriesFive True Horse Stories by Margaret Davidson. Five True Dog StoriesFive True Dog Stories by Margaret Davidson is scheduled for later in the Core, and I added this on somewhat impulsively. It’s a great fit for this level, although the writing is nothing special. I shared more about it yesterday.

CapyboppyCapyboppyCapyboppy by Bill Peet was previously included in this core, and I added it in – I’m so glad I did! It was a cute story, with charming illustrations. The full story of what happened with Capyboppy is not cute, and the book reflects different values regarding wild animals, but it was still worth reading.


The Story for ChildrenWe’re continuing on with our substitute Bible, The Story for ChildrenThe Story for Children, a Storybook Bible. We’ll likely finish it well before we finish the Core, but I’ll just add in another Bible (we have several children’s versions that we already own)


Math Mammoth 1A We just finished chapter 2 of Math Mammoth 1A, and have started chapter 3 on place value. So far, he has no trouble with place value, and thinks it’s super easy. Chapter 3 is the final one in 1A, and then we’ll move on to 1B (which I already have printed and waiting).

For whatever reason, math seems to be the subject where I am most tempted by other options, and can’t seem to stop looking into what else is available. Why do I do this, when as far as I can tell Math Mammoth is working?


The “spine” of science is the Encyclopedia mentioned above, but it’s supplemented with other books, both officially according to Sonlight’s schedule, and unofficially according to my own picks. 🙂

Eggs and ChicksWe read Eggs and ChicksEggs and Chicks in one day (love those books!) and we’ve finally started the Science ActivitiesUsborne Science Activities, Vol. 2 book – reading it, watching the DVD that goes along with it, and doing some of the experiments. The one where we put a coin on the top of a bottle’s mouth, and then poured warm water on the bottle to heat up the air inside? Big hit here. Both with the kids who love seeing the coin “jump” and with me because of how easy it is.

A Journey Through the Digestive SystemWe’ve also been reading the Max Axiom graphic novels. He got some for Christmas, and some for his birthday, and he loves them. He goes and gets a new one off the shelf whenever he’s ready for it, and he’s already talking about how he needs more of them. Maybe Christmas again?

Language Arts

All About Reading Level 4 Soar with Reading Activity BookAfter breaking from it over the summer, we’ve started All About Reading Level 4. Lesson 1 was a review, and it took us about 3 weeks to get through it (there was a lot of sickness in there too delaying things). We’ve since moved on to the new material, and that’s a lot more fun than review.

All About Spelling Level 2All About Spelling Level 2 was added in last week, and after a slow start through the review of lesson 1 he’s back learning new material. Once again I am so pleased with the letter tiles – they make it so much easier for him to spell! He does it that way about half the time, and the rest of the time he dictates to me, but either way he does not want to do any of the writing himself. Which is kind of funny, because…

Getty Dubay Italic Handwriting AHandwriting has seen a dramatic change – it used to be his most loathed subject, and now he’s saying it’s his favorite! I have to watch him, because he wants to do it on his own, and do extra pages, but I try to see what he’s doing as he occasionally tries to form letters in … creative ways, and I want to correct that before the habit gets ingrained.

Billy and BlazeHe’s doing a lot more reading on his own, and that’s lots of fun to see. He picks out his own books at the library (they’re invariably silly ones with super heroes, ninja turtles, or lego characters, but whatever. Have fun kid.), and then I also give him ones to read. Lately he’s working his way through the Billy and Blaze series. He’s finished the first two books, and is waiting (somewhat impatiently) for me to get him the third. I mix that in with Syd Hoff and Dr. Seuss books and other easy readers, and it ends up being nice practice for him. He still needs/wants lots of white space on the page, or he gets overwhelmed. The reading he does with All About Reading is challenging for him, so I like also giving him other books that are easier, to build his confidence, improve his fluency, and help show him that reading is fun.


He’s now a senior green belt in tae kwon do – not sure if he’ll be ready to test in October for the next belt or not. We’ve missed a lot of classes due to visitors and life getting in the way of things, so he’s a bit behind as far as prepping for the test as far as I can tell. But, I am far from an expert so he might be just fine to test then. We’ll see.

I keep looking into continuing swimming lessons, especially through the winter when I’m always hunting for ways to keep the kids active when it’s hard to play outside. I’m praying about finding a way to pay for that, because right now it’s not in the budget. They’d love it though, especially since our summer lesson season was even shorter than expected because of our unexpected trip west.

Art & Music

Harmony Fine Arts Grade 1 I mentioned in the last update that I was doing a “graduated” restart – not adding all of the subjects in at once. Art and music are the ones that have had to wait. We’re starting them next week, now that everything else is in a good routine. We’ll still be using Harmony Fine Arts Grade 1 as we’d barely started it last year before putting it aside for the summer.


Awana has started up again – G is in his second year as a Spark (his sister is in her last year as a Cubbie). We’ve switched locations, and although it’s not as close as the previous church, they have their program on Sunday evenings, and I think that’s going to work better for our schedules.

Looking Ahead

We don’t have any visitors planned, or anything else of significance that should disrupt our schedule and routine, so I *should* have lots to report next month as far as progress goes. However, I know that nothing is certain, so we’ll just have to see how it goes! We had a couple of bumpy days as we got restarted with it all, but overall it’s going really well and I think we’re all enjoying it!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Two years ago: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

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Recent Readaloud: Here’s a Penny

Here's a PennyHere’s a PennyHere's a Penny by Carolyn Haywood by Carolyn Haywood

A Sonlight book that I’m not likely to have picked up on my own. I’d never heard of it, and the cover didn’t grab me. The only reason I *might* have tried it is because of the familiarity of the author’s name.

They stories are sweet, in an old-fashioned way. A heads-up if you’re reading to children with any issues related to adoption: Penny is adopted and then he gains a brother at the end of the book by another adoption. I tried to gloss over this a bit, because G REALLY wants another baby so he can have a brother, and the book makes it seem so easy – just ask your parents, and you’ll get your brother! We quickly finished it and I went into distraction mode with other books.

There’s a sequel, Penny and PeterPenny and Peter by Carolyn Haywood. I’d hoped to get it from the library, but it wasn’t available. I ended up buying a copy, because G liked it enough and wanted to know what happened next with Penny.

My verdict:
Easy to readaloud, the chapters are a nice length too for keeping their interest. They’re not as short as true beginning chapter books, but each one is generally 10 – 14 pages. The illustrations scattered throughout the text are nice, but their style doesn’t match with the cover art. I’m wondering if they’re original to the text – I know the versions currently in print have updated covers, which would explain the difference in style.

The kids’ verdict:
G enjoyed it – after reading one chapter a day for two days, we put it aside for our trip (and recovery). Picking it up again, I gave him a quick refresher as to what had taken place. Then I read chapter 3, and there were immediate requests for another one! Another one! Another one! Yeah, we read the final 8 chapters in two days, and if I’d been able to finish in in one day he’d have happily listened to it.

H semi-listened to it, but she didn’t complain when we finished it without her.

Publisher’s Description:
His name is not Penn or Penrose or anything that would make you think of Penny. His real name is William. But when his parents first saw him as a baby, with his red face and red-gold curls, they said, “My goodness. He looks like a brand-new copper penny.” And Penny is what they call him.

Now Penny is six years old, and this is the story of his adventures at home and in school. Many of them include his two best friends, Patsy and Peter, and his two kittens, Really and Truly. Penny learns how special it is to be adopted, what it means to belong in a family, and even, in the end, how it feels to have a new brother.

Book Details

Title: Here’s a PennyHere's a Penny by Carolyn Haywood
Author: Carolyn Haywood
Category: Children’s Fiction

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