We are in a season of life that consists primarily of putting one foot in front of the other. Ryan is working long, stressful hours. The weather is still cold. Cabin fever has come and not gone.We have had more than our share of colds, stomach flues, and 'fluky' bugs. But this time of year is also, 'buckle down and make some serious head-way with school' in our family.
As I seem to have a tendency to modify curriculum, I have settled on the best way to adapt Heart of Dakota's Bigger Hearts for His Glory for our family. We primarily use the history, language arts, and science reading along with the hymn study and some of the geography and vocabulary. I have abandoned the Bible study and poetry study. Instead, we decide as a family what type of Bible study we want to do when we finish one. This time the kids really wanted to do a simple study on Mark. I wasn't about to turn that down! Our last study was using the book, Leading Little Ones to God. To read more on how much I liked that book, go here.
Our history curriculum has taken us through a biographical study of the American Revolution time period. Z is an avid reader and particularly likes history. Seriously, he reads his Bible, a fun book (such as Little House on the Prairie or the Fairchild Family series), and a history book at his rest time. I finally started a list for him so that he knows what to pull off the shelf (nearly every three days) when he finishes his latest historical biography or nonfiction.
I acknowledge this is a great problem to have (yes, I know this is not necessarily common and no, I do not expect this to continue through all of my children so please don't feel bad if your kid isn't devouring every history book out there; you are welcome to consider us the weird ones), but it keeps me on my toes looking for age appropriate and 'non-dry' (living) history books. My primary resource is the Childhood of Famous Americans series. And when that resource runs dry, I wait until a library day, go to the history section with him, grab a two foot high stack of books covering the time period we are studying and sort through them. I hand him my 'yes's' and let him pick what he would read from those.
When beginning to plan out this year, last summer, I added some history books to enhance our studies. See, I know that whenever I pull out a good living history book to read for Z and T's history time two things usually happen. One, I quickly gain a larger audience. And second, they all complain when I stop. So, while HOD included some great old living history books I wanted to add a bit of meat for our style. For this task I browse the catalogs of other homeschool publishers and weed through some reviews of the books on Amazon.
The best book so far is actually a rather short, more picture book style piece that is included in Beautiful Feet's history curriculum. A More Perfect Union by Maestro is an excellent read for younger elementary students learning about American history. If you want to teach the story of the Constitution and begin a dialogue regarding the basic structure of our government, this is just the book. The illustrations are very pleasant, the text simple, but the teaching of our founding fathers' endurance is never insignificant.
Other good supplements for American history are Jean Fritz's books. The kids giggled all throughout Why don't you get a horse, Sam Adams? and they were intrigued by the story of Where was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May? Understand, these are good for additions to a American history curriculum, particularly in a biographical approach, such as we are doing this year.
Two series which I keep an eye out for at library booksales (they seem to be commonly sold for a quarter or two around here) are the "If you lived..." and "If you grew up..." books by Scholastic. These are great little paperbacks which transport the reader back to being a child in a particular time period. There are illustrations on nearly all of the pages accompanying text that flows in a question and answer format. Such as, "What did boys and girls where during the time of....?". I find these books great for when we are beginning to study a new time period or person (there are books such as, If you grew up with Abraham Lincoln).
So, how in the world do I afford all of these books? First, I talked a lot about that here. Second, I have a new wonderful resource. Thriftbooks. You can find a ton of books for 3.99 with no additional shipping. And if you find multiple books coming from the same warehouse then you save .50 on each of those additional books! And...search for coupon codes. I ordered once in Jan and once in February and both times found that they had active coupons going. One was for a free book and one was for 10% off the whole order. This can make Charlotte Mason schooling seriously affordable! And of course, the library. I only buy books that I intend to use for all five children or I hope they would read many times for enjoyment.
That is our history update, folks. Literature, art and music to come. Just don't hold your breath. I only wrote this post over three days!