Library Learning Updated

What have I changed since I’ve posted my original Library Learning book list? I wanted to report back, since I’ve put this out into the world.

As a student, I had the World’s Most Useless Spelling Program. I didn’t understand how bad it was until I found a copy recently in a used book store. It was worse than I remember. This has caused a bit of a spelling obsession with me in our homeschool. I’ve settled on one I like. We are using this spelling book “sequential spelling” style (daily spelling bee on a whiteboard, with missed words repeated daily until correct):  Eye and Ear Speller

We like Serl’s Primary Language Lessons, but have started using it mostly for the memory work. I’ve added in a workbook to increase my kiddos direct Language Arts instruction: Flash Forward Language Arts . These are cheap,  (around $5 in store with an educators discount card) and only available through Barnes and Noble. I bought a different grade than our official grade- it would be worth browsing through them if you have a Barnes and Noble nearby. The grade 5 book is a cheap and systematic way to move a kid into more writing, without overkill or busy work. If you wanted a workbook for spelling, the Flash Forward books looked useful.

We added an Intellgo Unit Study for our state: Intellego Explore the States.

We did a Darwin Beagle Trip study similar to the Ambleside Online’s Marco Polo Study. We did Marco Polo, too. We’ve regularly raided the library biography section for books from our time period.

We use this as our timeline The Timeline of World History.  I wish I could find a link with a photo. We found ours at a Half Price Books. We write directly on the pages, and it is useful for big picture history, as well as a keepsake. We are always making connections, then heading to the library for more bunny trails.

We’ve dropped Learnables for our foreign Language. It was okay, and we already had it, but dd killed the drive on the computer were were using it on. We have access to Mango from a library, and added in Memoria Press’s French: First Start French for explicit grammar and vocabulary, along with index card “flash cards” in a recipe box that we create as we go along. We’ve used the free resources listed in my side links extensively, and it has helped with “hearing” if something doesn’t sound correct. We’ve also checked out lots of language materials from our library.

Finally, as time goes on, we’ve dropped more and more of the content that came from Ambleside online. We keep returning to our favorite book list: Excellence in Reading Book List. If my dd has doubts about a book, I show it to her on “The List”, and she’s convinced it’s worth her time. We trust “The List.” Most of the books are incorporated into the Library Learning schedule.

We are using Math Mammoth. She does not “love” it. She does it independently- “Go away, Mom”. To me, that is success. I hope Maria is able to write grade 7 before we get there. It’s going to be close. If not, we likely will use the old Grade 6, add in Hands-On Equations, then head into Algebra.

Good luck and happy reading!


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Googling Books

I have several “Googled” books on my list. I thought I would dump them into one post and explain how I use them. I have played with and rejected the most recently introduced e readers, since most of what we use is in PDF form, so does not display well on the smaller screens. One of my older kids has a tablet computer, which I played with and found underwhelming. So I print. I have a source of free three-ring binders, watch for super sales on paper, and use a Brother printer that takes toner. I figure my cost per hundred pages is around $2- $2.50.
I did have a saved google book “disappear”, so if I find something I really think I will use, I save it as a .pdf to a flash drive. To do that, you need to follow the prompts to read on your device. When I print, I use toner saving mode, print on both sides of a page, and set my page up to “fit to width”. It makes for nice, large text for my student. I only print a month out at a time, so if I find a reader I like better, I’m not losing lots of pages. The old readers have stories and poems from the most popular authors of the time, and include James Whitcomb Riley and Longfellow. If you were inclined to do so, you could build your own readers and composition books by mixing and matching.
If you have an .epub file you want to print, it can be printed from Adobe Digital Editions, which is a free download.

Google books listed on my schedule:

Third Reader, Wheeler

Elementary Speller, Wheeler (good for memory work, spelling and copy work)    

Wheeler Graded Studies in English (to follow Elementary Speller) 

Wheeler Fourth Reader

Math for Littles

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Booklist instead of Curriculum: Fool’s Errand?

Click for “LibraryLearning” Book List

It’s time for me to pay forward. I’ve had lots of help, suggestions and support from fellow home educators. I created the above attached document- book check list really- as a map for us. I wanted it to be “out there” for other parents. I don’t intend to post much to this blog, although may use the blog itself as a personal dashboard of links I don’t want to lose or resources I don’t want to forget. They are here to share. I hope it is useful to someone.

Book lists are inherently a fool’s errand, but here is my criteria:
I tried to focus on living books. The selections I put on this list are largely free, inexpensive second-hand, or widely available at most libraries. When there were exceptions to this criteria, I tried to list a free alternative. This eliminated some home educator favorites because they are not available in most libraries or inexpensively second-hand. I didn’t list authors, but there are links at the bottom where authors can be located. Here on the right side of the blog, I’ve linked resources used in the book list, as well as other useful resources. Most of what is there is free. We are about midway through this, so the resources in E and F have been previewed, but not used by us. I’m still searching for modern living books for some levels of Science.

There are no grade levels. Each column is roughly a school year equivalent. You’ll notice that B starts about early mid elementary. Before then, many kids learn more quickly without the constraints lots of reading and writing placed on them. Little people lack fine motor skills, even if they are smarty pants. According to my kids’ optometrist, 5-6 year-old kids are far-sighted at a higher rate than older children, making reading more difficult.

This book list is for sharing, changing, making your own. Although the final product is my work, the source materials are gathered from a number of other places.

This book list is secular. I don’t believe it contains anything offensive, but preview the science materials if you want a religious perspective. The alternative link for the free history in F would need modified.

Book lists are one-dimensional, by nature. Homeschooling and children are three-dimensional. The best parts of home education is the three-dimensional stuff; museums, galleries, bookstores, parks, theaters, nature preserves, the beach, your house of worship…. life.



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When we began home educating our youngest, the advice for mathematics was simple; pick a math program and work steadily through it. A month later, my kindergartner torpedoed that option.

She had a large gap between math facts and concepts, in addition to having a large gap between reading level and math level. What we’ve tried, in addition to any living math books I could check out of a very large library:

EPGY Math-  EPGY is online gifted classes through Stanford University. We used the open enrollment option, which is very user-friendly. What we liked: it was her kind of math.  She was able to jump ahead as she needed to, and it introduced higher concept math early on. What we didn’t like: low graphic, very repetitive in terms of format: work book problems, one at a time. We had a slower internet connection at the time, and she would wander off between problems.

MEP-  Free math.  Online printable work books with strong hands-on teaching component.  I liked this for her in theory; lots of problem solving and hands-on with little writing. We’ve tried it twice: 1a and 3b. It is too much flipping around for teachers notes, etc.

Singapore – We actually did finish and 1B and 3a. We own 4a and 4b. What we liked: the mental math. What we didn’t like: it’s too slow in some ways. It’s mastery based, and she likes to explore lots of topics at a time. I bought 2A and 2B, but resold them.

Miquon-  Never got off the bookshelf.

Montessori- Crash and burn. Both the school and the curriculum. That is for another post….

Dreambox-  We did this when she was a little younger, but we also had a very slow internet connection at the time. We tried it again, and it was a short term winner. It actually made her focus some on the those pesky math facts she liked to avoid, and allowing her to move through concepts she grasps.  We did most of her second grade math this way.

Life of Fred– We want to love Fred, but he remains unopened on our shelf. I really don’t recommend the series for more than a supplement.

Math Mammoth- I’ve owned this for a while (the light blue series), but frankly I didn’t really like the looks of it. Looks are deceiving, and this is working well for us. We use it printed off into chapter-long mini-books. Maybe with a whiteboard we could have tried it sooner, and it certainly would have been less flipping around than MEP or Singapore. It is self teaching at the upper levels, although I stay close enough to see if frustration is setting in. We compress it, usually with a five minute open, skim and highlight by me. I was concerned it was too text heavy, but I use a different colored highlighter to designate verbal problems, and only assign about half of what is on most pages.

For math facts we tried several games, mad minutes, etc. What actually worked? Filling in multiplication charts and looking at the patterns, and good ol’ 99 cent flash cards.

If I were starting again, I would probably use a white board, manipulatives,  MathTacular  and living books until she learned her math facts, and had her reading catch up a little, then jumped in with Math Mammoth after a placement test, probably 3a or 3b.

Gee, now that we’ve figured out elementary math, I probably ought to plan for Algebra.

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