Homeschooling Update: Plans for Third Grade

Last week kicked off G’s 3rd grade year. It’s always an exciting time, and I’ve got some fun things planned for his year.

3rd Grade Curriculum Choices

3rd Grade Curriculum Choices


Math Mammoth has worked really well for us so far, so he’ll be starting off the year with 4A, and when he finishes that, he’ll move on to 4B. I would like to supplement with Beast Academy and am planning on getting their new 2A level when it releases. I want it to be fun-challenging, not super hard-challenging, which is why I’m going lower in level than the 3A I have and briefly tried last year.


Sonlight C LA 3
In addition to the second half of world history covered in Sonlight C, I’ll be adding in some extra fun titles such as See Inside the World of Shakespeare and a sticker book about Knights as I try to slow us down and not finish before May.

I’m trying to avoid moving into level D before 4th grade, but we’ll see how that goes. We’d begun level C last year, so we’re already on week 9 of the curriculum. I just ordered the Kingfisher Atlas of World History (it hasn’t arrived yet) but that should also give us plenty to look at and help slow things down.

Spelling, Phonics, and Handwriting

He’s halfway through All About Spelling level 4 already, so I expect him to finish it and most (if not all) of level 5 this year. He loves spelling!

Although it’s completely unnecessary for him, as it duplicates so much of what he did in All About Reading, I’m having him work through MCP Phonics Level C . It’s often convenient to have some workbook tasks to give him to do on his own. Some days this ends up counting as his handwriting.

For days he’s not getting a lot of handwriting in via other items, he’s using Italic Handwriting Book D. He hates it, but his handwriting is not good, so he’s working on it. And it’s not the book’s fault he hates it; he’d dislike anything requiring handwriting practice.

Reading and Vocabulary

Sonlight LA 3Somewhat connected with his History curriculum, he’s also doing Sonlight Readers and LA 3. I’ll add in additional readers for him, mostly from the library. Those I generally pick as we go along through the year, and I’ll try and keep you posted on the ones I assign as the year progresses.

For another workbook to do on his own when I need him to be busy while I work with his sister(s) he’s got Wordly Wise B. The vocabulary practice so far has been unnecessary, but I’ll keep using it for the workbook benefits.


Besides the assigned Bible reading and Window on the World book included in Sonlight, I’ve added the Awesome Book of Bible Facts (that they used to include, but took out). He’ll also start up with Awana again next month, where he’ll be in the T&T level.


Sonlight Science CHe’s a big fan of Sonlight science, and has just started Science C. Since it’s never enough for him, I’ll be supplementing with additional science books. First up is 100 Things to Know about Science, followed by a book about Volcanos. Once he learns that there are additional Wile E Coyote science titles, he’ll be clamoring for them, so I’m thinking I’ll get him Whoosh, Kaboom, Clang, and Zoom for Christmas gifts.


I’ll be trying out a new-to-us art curriculum with both older kids – Artistic Pursuits Introduction to Visual Arts .

I also have several Usborne art books to read with the kids – Introduction to Art, Lift-the-Flap Art, Art Treasury, even an Art Activity Book, and a Step-by-Step Drawing Book.

In addition, I have a list of art appreciation books to grab from the library, such as 13 Paintings Children Should Know and others in that series.

I know we won’t get through all of that this year, but I’m trying to have it on hand to make it more likely it’ll be a regular part of our routine.


Someday I hope to get all the kids into piano lessons, but that won’t be this year. While we wait, I want to do some composer studies, music history, and other music apreciation-type material.

Towards that end, I’m slowly working on building a reference collection. So far I have the Usborne Famous Composers Reference Book, and I’m also planning on adding their Classical Music Reference Book.

In addition, I’m then debating between three options: First Book about the Orchestra, Welcome to the Symphony, or The Story of the Orchestra. I’d like to get one of them for the year, and am hoping to try all three out from the library before deciding which one (if any) to purchase for our shelves.


I’ve not been that successful at using the video version of the Kids Cook Real Food course (but when I did, I loved it), so I’m trying the book instead.


He’s now a Bear in Cub Scouts, and is looking forward to all of the activities that offers throughout the year. He’s also begun the Fall soccer season, playing on team Germany. It’s still up in the air if he’ll play basketball this winter, but he’s certain to play baseball in the Spring.

Taekwondo is ongoing: he’s just earned his 1st degree recommended black belt, so next up is 1st degree decided, and to work towards his instructor’s collar.

It should be another busy year!

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

Homeschooling Update: Finished with Ancient Greece


We’ve more or less finished with Ancient Greece and will be getting into Ancient Rome. And then that is pretty much the end of B for us and we’ll move onto C. Crazy! Although that makes it sound like we’re closer than we are – there’s still 9 weeks of the schedule ahead of us.

It’s been a really nice stretch, as he’s liked Greece, and I like Ancient Greece much more than Ancient Egypt.

What Would I Recommend?

blast-back-ancient-greeceIf you’re looking to do ancient Greece on your own, I’d recommend Blast Back! Ancient Greece – it was really well done, and covered a good amount for lower elementary, without being overkill. The Greek Myths book is also quite nice if you want to cover them, and it was never too detailed to make it something I didn’t want to share with my young kids.

If you have a child who likes to color, I’d get one of the inexpensive Dover coloring books. I skipped this because G has never liked coloring very much, but I’m almost certainly going to get one when H studies this. Dover options include Life in Ancient Greece, Greek Gods and Goddesses, Sparta!, and Greek and Roman Fashion.

sticker-dressing-greek-mythsIf you’ve got a sticker fan in your house, Sticker Dressing Greek Myths is fun. My son loves using these books, so that’s what he gets in lieu of a coloring book.

For more general history not limited to Ancient Greece, I’m using and enjoying A Child’s History of the World, The Usborne Book of World History (great for visuals), and Story of the World Volume 1 & the accompanying activity book. It’s more than is needed, but I’m trying to stretch things out for us.

Have Older Students?

usborne-illustrated-stories-from-the-greek-mythsIf you’re looking to cover Ancient Greece with an older child (say, 10 and up), Usborne has an excellent title that would work well. The Greeks was overkill for my son right now, but if we need more I’ll use it for his next pass through this era. They also have several options for Greek Myths books more appropriate for older readers, and a general history encyclopedia that I love.

Still Want More?

adventures-in-ancient-greeceIf you’re also looking to stretch things out, I also used Greek News, Adventures in Ancient Greece and Top 10 Worst Things about Ancient Greece. I’d go for the first two if you want more books, but none of them are essential if you’ve read Blast Back! Adventures in Ancient Greece does add a fictional component to the topic, if you’re looking for that. Another fiction option is Hour of the Olympics, from the Magic Tree House series. My son read that to himself – love that easy reading level! He also read the nonfiction companion book, Ancient Greece and the Olympics.

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Two years ago: Book Review: Ghost Ship by Brian Hicks
Three years ago: How to Find More Time to Read: Part 1

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

7 Quick Takes: The Book Hangover Edition

Seven Quick Takes

— 1 —

As I write this, I’m feeling a bit of a book hangover both from staying up too late reading the night before, and because all I want to do is get back into that world, and find out more about what happens with those characters. I’m trying to cure it by reading something completely different, but so far it’s not working. ๐Ÿ™‚ (See #7 below to know what book gave me the hangover)

— 2 —

If you remember my post earlier this year about the online course I’m using to teach my kids to cook, you can get their free knife skills mini-course right now. If it sounds appealing, don’t delay – the free offer won’t last long.

— 3 —

I’ll be announcing the picks for my 2017 book club November 14th. I am *so* excited about the selections, and can hardly wait to share them all.

— 4 —

Usborne had some new book releases this week, and I’ve been daydreaming about what books I want to get my kids for Christmas. And by “for Christmas” I mean both as Christmas presents, and as books for the Christmas season – they have some *really* fun interactive books that are Christmas-themed.


If you click on the image you’ll go to a page with a larger image & info about each book. I’m probably going to get #s 3, 4, and 19. I already own #s 10 & 21.

— 5 —

I loved Big Little Lies as a book club book this year, and I’m kinda excited about the HBO miniseries based on the book. There’s a trailer out for it, and it looks like they’ve changed it a bit, but I’m still debating trying to figure out a way to watch it (we don’t have HBO.)

— 6 —

As much as I’ve resisted it, I think I need to acknowledge that posting 5 times a week isn’t going to reliably happen right now. Homeschooling is taking just a bit longer each day, and my youngest isn’t napping as easily, so my afternoon work time is getting squeezed and squeezed. I seem to be regularly getting only four posts anyway, so it seems like planning for four will be better than planning for five and getting frustrated when I don’t manage to get that fifth one written.

— 7 —

The Silkworm

The best book I’ve finished recently was The Silkworm, the second in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling). I enjoyed the first book, but I *really* liked the second. I binge-read it and the next day I paid for the late night I inflicted upon myself. It was worth it.

It’s all I can do to not get the third and start it immediately, but I’m trying to hold off a bit longer. Do not be surprised if next week I admit that I couldn’t wait any longer and binge-read the third. ๐Ÿ™‚

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t The Lyceum!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Club Basics: Food
Two years ago: Eiffelโ€™s Tower
Three years ago: 31 Days of Great Nonfiction: The Flamboya Tree
Four years ago: 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads {Day 21} An Innocent, A Broad

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

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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!

What the Kids are Reading (in February 2016)

Late in January I finally closed out my Usborne kickoff parties and cashed in on the free books I earned through them.

I got a TON of books, and weโ€™ve been reading and reading them. Here are the board books I received โ€“ stay tuned for later posts about all the other books. It was an amazing shipment! So, yes, most of the books we read in February were either picture books about the Arctic or Korea, or our new books. Since I’ve already posted about those themed picture books, today’s post is all about the books we actually added to our bookshelf. So exciting!

Board Books and Activity Books

Busy Train bookBusy Train Book
I *thought* I was just getting this as a display book for home shows. Ha! My kids โ€“ all of them โ€“ LOVE this book. Who knew a train driving around in loops could be so amazingly entertaining?

My Wild Animal WorldMy Wild Animal World
Another huge hit here โ€“ my youngest is obsessed with opening the big book, and then removing the 9 individual books, flipping through them, and then putting them back in the big book. The other two love reading these with her too, so itโ€™s a double win!

Slide and See Under the SeaSlide-and-See Under the Sea

And yet another huge hit with the toddler. She loves the textures, she loves the various interactive features โ€“ itโ€™s fantastic. I’ve even caught the other two flipping through it, and both are eager to read it to her.

Little Red Penguin ShapesLittle Red Penguin Shapes

The toddler likes lifting the flaps on this one, but it doesn’t captivate her as much as some of their other choices. However, I like the smaller size on this, as it’s easy to keep in my purse and pull out when I need a little bit of distraction.

Pop-Up JunglePop-Up Jungle

Really pretty pop-ups, but it’s probably the least popular of all the board and interactive books I’ve gotten from Usborne, perhaps because it’s got all these tempting elements – the snapping crocodile jaws, the swinging monkey, the slithering snake – and I won’t let her grab any of them.

Peek Inside the ZooPeek Inside the Zoo

A great first lift the flap book, as the flaps are bigger than in some of their other titles. Pretty illustrations too โ€“ I really like it. That said, it just misses being one of the biggest hits of this order, but I can see my youngest liking it more as she gets a bit older. It’s suggested for kids 3 and up, and based on my experiences with my three, I’d agree with that. ๐Ÿ™‚

Felix and Ella's VacationFelix & Ellaโ€™s Vacation

Itโ€™s a huge, reusable sticker book: of course my kids are obsessed with it. It was all I could do to keep them from tearing into it the first day it arrived. We haven’t had it long enough to really test the long-term re-usability factor of the stickers but so far they’re definitely movable.

Big Book of ColorsBig Book of Colors

My 4 year old LOVES this. The 6 year old really likes it too, but not as much as his sister. I have to admit I kind of wanted this one for myself – I love the colors, I love the color wheel, I love the acrylic overlay that lets you see how colors change. Love love love. It’s great for color vocabulary too.

I Want to Be a Lion TamerI Want to Be a Lion Tamer by Ruby Brown, illustrated by Alisa Coburn

Usborne has a handful of books that are great transitions from board books to picture books, and this is one of them – the pages are thicker and plastic-coated, so while they feel and turn more like picture books, they’re sturdier like board books. This has great illustrations with an old-fashioned feel, and the message is fantastic. I really debated between choosing this one or the I Want to Be An Astronaut, but like this one so much I may end up getting both. ๐Ÿ™‚

Look Inside Mummies and PyramidsLook Inside Mummies and Pyramids

I got this as a fun extra for our upcoming homeschool history program, and cannot WAIT to pull it out and let my son see it. He’s going to love it, I’m certain.

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

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: How I Decided to Homeschool and How I Decided on a Curriculum
Two years ago: Women Heroes of WWII
Three years ago: Letโ€™s Talk about Spoilers

newest reads board books interactive books February 2016February 2016 Usborne board books

Life Lately: Oils and Adult Coloring Books and Bookcases

Catching up on what’s been going on around here

I assume you’ve seen this around online already, but if you have been considering trying Young Living oils, this is the month to jump in – premium starter kits are 10% off. It’s really really rare for them to put the kits on sale, so grab this while you can.

February 2016 oil promotion

My first coloring party is scheduled for March, and while it did need to be scheduled out that far, I am impatiently waiting for it. Yes, it’s mostly an excuse to just get out and have a kid-free night and hang out with friends. Is there a problem with that? I’m hoping it’s the first of many, because I’m thinking this will be a great socialization method for an introvert. Ha. ๐Ÿ™‚

Choose Your Coloring Book

I bought two new bookcases, because Legos + puzzles + school books were taking over my life. They’re red, because I wanted to try something new + that was the best deal. Right now they’re in the dining room, but I may rearrange things more and see where they work best. No, I won’t win any decorating awards, but really? Bookcases were not the only things keeping that from happening. ๐Ÿ™‚

The bookcases are assembled (because that was slow enough, thanks to three kids who were not much help, especially that littlest one) but I still haven’t gotten things into them. Hoping to get to that soon, because the current setup is driving me bonkers.

I feel like I’ve been reading a ton, but it’s almost all kids’ books – I’ve finished very few adult titles. Partly that’s because I am reading so many kids’ books, but some of it is just … I don’t know. A reading slump? Resistance because I have so many books I “should” be reading? I’m not sure, but I’m ready to break out of it.

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

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Superhero Fun with Early Readers
Two years ago: Book Review: A Simple Murder by Eleanor Kuhns
Three years ago: Book Review: Goals by Brian Tracy

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

What the Kids are Reading (in January 2016)

That Is Not a Good IdeaThat Is Not a Good Idea!That Is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems by Mo Willems

They are *obsessed* with this one. Great repetition, fun illustrations, and a twist that makes them laugh every time.

Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You SeeBrown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr, illustrated by Eric Carle by Bill Martin Jr, illustrated by Eric Carle

Wonderfully repetitive – I keep thinking H is going to get tired of reciting it to herself, but so far she hasn’t.

Polar Bear Polar Bear What Do You HearPolar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin, Jr. illustrated by Eric Carle by Bill Martin Jr, illustrated by Eric Carle

Just like the Brown Bear book, only with a polar bear and sounds. H loves this one too, and reads both of them to her sister (and how adorable is that?).

That's Not My HedgehogThat’s Not My Hedgehog by Fiona Watt, illustrated by Rachel Wells

We already owned other titles in the “That’s Not My…” series, but M got this one for Christmas and it quickly became her favorite. It’s all about the scratchy texture on the last page – she loves it! Plus, you know, finding the little mouse on each page is super fun as well.

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

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley
Two years ago: Book Review: Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller
Three years ago: Getting Geeky: 2012 Reads, Charts & Graphs Style

Early Reader Success: Hey Jack!

Hey Jack 1Hey Jack! The Best Birthday Party Ever by Sally Rippin

This was recommended to me as one that was a good choice for early readers. It’s easy to see why – it’s engaging, with short chapters and lots of illustrations. The varying font size makes it easier for newer readers to read with appropriate inflection and emphasis, and the lightly tinted pages are also helpful for them.

While G liked the book, and read it in one sitting, it wasn’t as ideal of a book for him like his adored Wheelnuts. I think if I’d have given him this about a year ago he’d have loved it – now it’s a little bit too easy for him. Because it is a much easier read than Wheelnuts, if you have a reader who isn’t quite ready for those books, this one might be a better fit. It’s roughly at a second grade reading level.

The Best Birthday Party Ever is book one in the Hey Jack! series, and it’s a companion to the original series about Jack’s best friend, Billie B.

And a heads-up: many Usborne books are available in public libraries, so don’t forget to check your local branch if you see me mention ones that sound intriguing.

Disclosure: This is an Usborne book, and Iโ€™m an independent consultant for them (i.e., I sell them). Iโ€™m still going to give you my honest opinion on their books though, because every book isnโ€™t right for every reader. If you buy from my link Iโ€™ll receive a commission, which goes to support the blog and my homeschooling adventure. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: Crimes and Mathdemeanors by Leith Hathout
Two years ago: Book Review: Beyond Bath Time by Erin Davis
Three years ago: Books Read in 2012

What the Kids are Reading (in December 2015)

December 2015 Picture Books

We did read more Christmas books than those listed below; these are just the new-to-us ones I tried from the library. One of these days I should make a complete listing of the Christmas books, instead of having them scattered across various posts from different years. Maybe that’ll happen for 2016. ๐Ÿ˜‰

A Tale of Two BeastsA Tale of Two Beasts by Fiona Roberton

Probably my favorite from the month – I loved the double perspective this one provides, as the story is told twice, once from the viewpoint of the little girl, and once from the animal’s point of view. The way the illustrations are also adjusted for each recounting is really clever too. The kids liked it as well, and have asked for it repeatedly.

AnimallyAnimally by Lynn Parrish Sutton

Very sweet story, with lots of fun adverbs plus of course all the great animals. I can see why this one was recommended to me so highly.

There's a Mouse about the HouseThere’s a Mouse about the House by R. Fowler

I got this one because of a relative raving about how much her children loved it when they were growing up. Initially, I was skeptical about how much my kids would like it, but I didn’t need to be – my kids are OBSESSED with putting the little mouse through each page’s slot. The one drawback is that the mouse is easy to lose, even with the little pocket on the front cover (ask me how I know this.) At least the back cover has a template for making your own replacement mouse. ๐Ÿ™‚

Old AbeOld Abe, Eagle Hero: The Civil War’s Most Famous Mascot by Anne Lee

Good as an older picture book, as it’s got more text on each page. I’d recommend it if you’re looking for material about the Civil War that doesn’t get into graphic detail, but just touches on the time period, or if you’ve got animal lovers. Otherwise, it’s not a must read or one that I’d suggest for younger readers, as it likely won’t hold their interest. My 6 year old thought it was ok,; my 4 year old didn’t stick around for more than a page or two. I’ll try it again with them in another year or two.

Blue Whale BluesBlue Whale Blues by Peter Carnavas

Cute story, and the kids were amused at the “wrong” names and uses for various items they easily recognized (the upside down shopping cart that the Whale calls his bike, etc.). They also thought it was hilarious when Whale is sad that his “bike” is “all wet.”

Johnny Appleseed the Story of a LegendJohnny Appleseed: The Story of a LegendJohnny Appleseed: The Story of a Legend by Will Moses by Will Moses

A school book for G, and he liked it, and he liked telling daddy about what he’d learned about Johnny Appleseed. Nice illustrations too, but it’s not a toddler or preschooler-targeted picture book: it’s very text-heavy, and is unlikely to keep their interest. As a readaloud for a first grader, it’s excellent.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan ToomeyThe Christmas Miracle of Jonathan ToomeyThe Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, illustrated by P.J. Lynch by Susan Wojciechowski, illustrated by P.J. Lynch

New to us all this year, and what a wonderful book! Both the story and illustrations are lovely, and I want to buy a copy to add to our regular advent reading rotation. The 4 year old wasn’t that interested in it, but I think by next year she’ll like it.

Christmas OrangesChristmas OrangesChristmas Oranges by Linda Bethers, illustrated by Ben Sowards by Linda Bethers, illustrated by Ben Sowards

Gorgeously illustrated, but I wasn’t expecting to get choked up by the story. It’s another picture book that’s better for 6 & up at least, both because of the amount of text, and because of the themes discussed.

Click Clack Ho Ho HoClick, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho!Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin

I adore Click Clack Moo and others by Cronin and Lewin, but this one wasn’t one of my favorites of theirs. I’m also not a big fan of Santa-focused books though, so that plays a huge role in my feelings. Try it from the library (most medium to larger ones should have a copy) and see if it’s a good fit for your family before buying it.

Llama Llama Holiday DramaLlama Llama Holiday DramaLlama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney by Anna Dewdney

My first Llama Llama book, and maybe I shouldn’t have picked this one as my introduction to the series? I was unimpressed with it. Thinking I should give Llama Llama another try, because I know they’re hugely popular, and maybe this was just not representative of what they’re usually like.

Disclosure: Several of these are Usborne books, and I’m an independent consultant for them (i.e., I sell them). I’m still going to give you my honest opinion on their books though, because every book isn’t right for every reader. If you buy from my link I’ll receive a commission, which goes to support the blog and my homeschooling adventure. Non-Usborne titles are linked to Amazon, and those are affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!