Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Books I Love! - Morning Basket

My previous post made me think about the books we are using this year and what we love. So, for my friends who are interested, I will share what I love about what we used this year. To start, I'll talk about our Morning Basket subjects. This is how we start our days, the things we read and discuss all together before the children pull out math and spelling and other texts.

I used to think this took too much time out of our days and tried to rush through, but then I listened to Cindy's talk "On Morning Time" and realized how valuable this learning time can be. It takes anywhere from one to two hours, which can be until lunch on days we don't start until ten, but now, I'm okay with that! It is my children's favorite part of homeschooling, and allowing for discussion has enriched our homeschooling and our relationships so much!

Bible: the daily Gospel, Lenten Journal, Ann Voskamp's Bible Verse Memory Project, The Jesus Storybook Bible, etc...

I try to start each school day with a prayer, a Bible story or verse, and a saint. For Bible, it is usually something different for each liturgical season. We have a variety of Advent and Lenten reflection books that usually include some Scripture, as well as an Easter season one. Our favorite this year has been our Lenten Journals from Education in Virtue by the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, our dear friends. The elementary journal was free to print, and I purchased a copy of the one for older children and adults. Most of the time I didn't even read what they wrote, just let the Holy Spirit go!

Saints for Young Readers for Everyday and My Journal of Saints

We have loved SFYRE and used it for several years. While we do not use it every day, that helps keep some of the stories fresh from year to year, and we love learning about new saints periodically. The printable journal I found free online this year, and my children and I are just loving how we can read about the saint and then think about the lessons from his/her life for our own.

Classically Catholic Memory

Last summer a friend and I began a co-op with 8 other families using this material, but unfortunately, we never had one single meeting. The location we had secured fell through, and while we did search for another one, our hearts just weren't in it after that. I didn't think I'd like using the material at home by ourselves, because I'm not big on memorization. But, it has been one of our favorite things! We spend two weeks on each "Week" of material and just read it every day. Sometimes the children actually do memorize things, but most of the time it just increases their familiarity with things I otherwise might have missed. I feel it's done a good job filling in some gaps, and I'll be purchasing Beta Year to do next year!

Life of Fred

This is not our primary math text, but I was looking for a way to make math more fun. This. Is. It! Wow! These stories are so wonderfully entertaining that my children don't realize they're learning math concepts. Now, we did start at the beginning when I already had a 3rd and 5th grader, but they are having just as much fun reviewing their basic knowledge and cruising through these books. Plus, I am slowly accumulating the set to have them for my second set of students, now ages 4 and 1.

Connecting with History

Oh, let me count the ways! This literature-based, Catholic world history program has saved me. I love history, but I cannot stand textbooks. I love the flexibility of this program. While many voices have petitioned to have daily lesson plans created (and they are in the works), I am thrilled with the pick and choose freedom we have to select books that we own or are easily available and use as much or as little of the projects and activities as we like. If you want more detail on how I use this without stressing myself out (there's a lot of potential), I'm happy to share another time. We are moving on to Volume 3 next year.

The World's Story

I just purchased this when it came out this year, and I'm so glad I did. The only thing I didn't like about Connecting with History are the core texts. I just could never get into them, as they are old textbooks. Not my thing. But, this book is a gem! We are reading the chapters to catch up to where CWH Volume 3 will begin, and of course, I'm having my children do written narrations for each chapter. They are not even complaining about having to write, because they are enjoying this overview with all of the juicy tidbits thrown in for fun!

Trail Guide to World Geography

We went through the Trail Guide to U.S. Geography last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. I do own the CD-ROM, so I just print the worksheets and maps for my children to complete, making their own geography notebook. This is just simple enough that it takes only a few minutes at the end of morning basket each day, but I know they are gaining valuable map skills and familiarity with the countries of the world.

Young Explorer Series (Science)

I have gone back and forth with doing this together and separating my children in different volumes, but we are back to doing it together and loving it! I never liked science, but I am pleased to read aloud these textbooks whose tone is not very textbook-y. (is that a word?) We have done Astronomy, Botany, Zoology 1, and Zoology 2. We look forward to Zoology 3, Anatomy & Physiology, and the new Chemistry/Physics volume. I wonder if we can do 3 books next year instead of our usual two! I am so glad to introduce the various sciences to my children through this program. Oh, and we do have the notebooking journals this year, but we don't do every page. So I'm considering getting the CD-ROMs in the future.

Writer's Jungle (especially Tuesday Teatimes)

When I bought this, I loved it. It is everything I believe about writing, but it is more of a philosophy of teaching writing than an actual curriculum guide, sort of a course for the teacher. There are many ideas within, and you choose what to try with your children. I have always believe that teaching writing is not a step by step process but more of an evolving understanding of the written word. The more of this course I take the time to read, the more I believe this is the way to go. I have my children write various genres, and we do some copywork and read a ton of quality literature. This year, we added Tuesday Teatimes from Writer's Jungle to read poetry aloud, and my children beg for Tuesday Teatime every week! Good stuff!

I have to add two novels that we have recently read aloud (when we finished our world history for the year, I hoped these would make enjoyable group read aloud literature selections). These books are precious and interesting and fun! And the three of us love a good mystery story!

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, Detectives Extraordinaire

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library

I'm sure I've forgotten something, but that's our Morning Basket! I'll include the rest of our curriculum materials in my next post.

By the way, has there been a book or material that you tried that did not work for you? I have to be honest and say that my 5th grader and I abandoned From Sea to Shining Sea and our Discover Texas course. Both were too dry and textbook-y for us. (there's that non-word again!) I think I'll assign L Is for Lone Star to my daughter next year and follow some rabbit trails with her (those Sleeping Bear Press alphabet books are rich for rabbit trails) and add a few historical fiction novels. We really enjoyed The Story of Texas when we read it upon moving home to Texas a few years ago, and I will probably repeat that with the other children.

L Is for Lone Star

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