My new FAVORITE homeschool site!

I can’t believe I didn’t hear of this fabulous site sooner! Where has it been all my life?

Curriculum Choice Homeschool Review Blog

Real reviews about real homeschool products by homeschool moms who know what they are talking about (and who know how to blog) and who know the sorts of questions we all want to ask about the books and programs we’ve never tried before.

This site is a must-read for homeschool moms!

 

The Search for Quality School Books

Jennefer at the Smooth Stones Academy blog has recently posted an excellent, informative run-down of the different books they have tried in their homeschool, complete with her notes about what is and is not working. For parents who need advice and guidance before making those school book purchases, this is a must-read! You can read her post here: http://smoothstonesacademy.blogspot.com/2010/03/reflections-on-academic-hits-and-misses.html

For other great book ideas, you can also check out Cellista’s weekly homeschool reports, which chronicle the weekly books read, assignments completed, and activities undertaken in her home school (though I’m biased in recommending this site–Cellista uses the same curriculum that I do!). Here’s a recent report from her blog:

http://cellista.wordpress.com/2010/02/19/weekly-report-21-2/

Teaching Poetry

Do your children know the difference between a quatrain and a couplet? Between Haiku and Limericks? If not, head on over to the most helpful Small World blog, where she is hosting an excellent WordSmithery for kids. Her fun exercises will have your kids composing poetry in various forms in a way that will help them better identify those forms in their literature studies! 🙂

Benefit of Natural Learning #10: Book-Loving Kids!

I discovered yet another benefit of natural, home-based learning last month:

My daughter asked for BOOKS for Christmas!

(I couldn’t get her to keep her eyes open for the camera flash. That’s okay–we’ll save those peepers for reading, I guess, LOL!)

That’s right–while everyone else was rushing to the toy stores, looking for animatronic hamsters or computerized dinosaurs, I was calling up a small, independent publisher in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, requesting their entire series of Native American children’s novels!

It all began when I bought this book for our in-home history studies: Naya Nuki

Naya Nuki is the (partly fictionalized) account of Sacajawea’s actual childhood friend; a girl who–like Sacajawea–was kidnapped and sold into slavery. But unlike Sacajawea (who remained in capitivity long enough to bare her captor’s children and to help guide the Lewis and Clark expedition), little Naya Nuki escaped!

This precious book chronicles the 1,000+ mile journey of Naya Nuki towards her home. After reading Naya Nuki, Prima loved it so much that she begged for another. So I bought Doe Sia (because our library doesn’t have any of these books on their shelves–boo!):

Doe Sia is the true (also partially fictionalized, to help fill in the blanks) story of a Native American girl who helped guide and protect a group of white settlers in their journey across the prairie.

After reading this book, my daughter said “Are there any more books like this?” I visited the publisher’s web site, and sure enough–there’s an entire series!

But our library didn’t have any. Neither did local bookstores. Prima was crushed.

When Christmastime came around, Prima’s constant refrain was, “All I want for Christmas is a set of books like Naya Nuki!” So we contacted Grandview Publishing in Jackson Wyoming, who not only shipped the entire series to our home before Christmas, but who also included a delightful book on CD, and a poster of the artwork from Naya Nuki!

If your children do not yet love history, I encourage you to check out these books, which are very entertaining and educational, and help history come alive in the hearts and minds of young children (whereas history textbooks only fill them with lifeless dates, dry facts, and summarized events).

Raising Readers

You might say that my kids like to read. Check out these pictures!

Hanging out at home:

Alone in their rooms:

Reading with siblings:

Even reading with friends who come over to “play”

So people often ask me–“How do you get your kids to read so much?”

Here’s my secret:

1) Parenting

Trelease’s Read Aloud Handbook is a parents’ guide (now being used as a teachers’ textbook by many colleges) that helps turn kids into avid readers, even if they are currently T.V.-addicted or unmotivated! Once we implemented his advice and strategies in our home–from nightly readings and strategic book-placings in the home to the more scientific “how to discuss books with kids in a way that makes them want to read more”–we noticed a huge change in our family as our children gravitated away from the television and towards books!

2) Education

From Bauer’s book The Well-Trained Mind, we learned how children of the past were taught–you know, the kids who devoured books like they were candy, back in the days before television. Whether you are a homeschooler, or just a parent wanting to enhance their child’s public education, the Well-Trained Mind is THE must-have guide for how to instill a love of learning and a passion for books in your child.

3) Activities

If your child struggles with reading comprehension, try using these Writing With Ease worksheets, which help enhance a child’s reading abilities through writing! This ingenious book takes sentences and paragraphs from classic children’s literature and asks students to read, respond to, copy, or put into their own words the things that they read. This easy-to-use program (small, 5-minute exercises!) introduces so many great books to my children that I am constantly driving to the library to feed my daughters’ “hey–I want to read that book, too!” requests after each lesson. I HIGHLY recommend these worksheets to any parent whose child struggles with reading or is not motivated to read.