What We Are Reading in April

One of my favorite things to read or watch from other homeschoolers (besides their awesome homeschool room tours, of course) is updates on what they are currently reading. This might sound completely boring but being a homeschooling family and using a “book basket” for a large portion of our education supplements everyday I really rely on finding new and great books to try. I have gotten tons of ideas from other homeschoolers about books I would have never come across without their suggestions.

I also want to point out that there are many more homeschoolers and families in general who can really utilize the book lists that are living over seas in non English speaking countries. We currently live in Tokyo. So of course the use of English is common here, but not in a level that would be appropriate for a child who’s native language is English and they are an advanced reader. If you are trying to grow your Childs English vocabulary and keep them interested in books there is little in most stores for an advanced English speaker. Most books here are English for preschool age kids learning the basics as a second language or ESL study books for high schoolers and adults tackling English to pass some sort of exam. Neither of these options in books and reading material is right for my 8 year old advanced reader who is a native English speaker.

We do have libraries here, and they do have small sections of English but not much. There are English libraries to be found as well but they are generally small and serve a specific population (like government employees or military and their access is restricted to those who live on location). Many of these smaller libraries will have a decent selection of children books but as the age of your children increases the reading material appropriate for them decreases. There just is not a high enough demand for things like historical fiction aimed at junior high / high schoolers and things like that to really homeschool with. Many expats that are not homeschooling would really like to supplement their children’s education as even many of the private international school have some questionable “advanced level” reading when most of the class is usually not “international students” but native students of the home country who can pay the pricey tuition. So the reading level and books available are not always on par with a native speakers level or interest.

One of the only things that we can really do is order online, have family ship to us, or order something from amazon or the like if shipping doesn’t completely kill it! Of course books on a tablet would save on this but some books, especially for younger children just are not the same when viewed on a tablet.

Basically my rambling is just to say this…. Thanks to every homeschooling parent who takes the time to post reading lists! It is so helpful and there are many of us overseas that could not locate these great resources without your reviews and information. We just simply wouldn’t not necessarily know that some of these great under the radar books are out there. I watch and read a lot of the lists and have built a lot of additional curriculum from the help of those of you who share your lists and it has really helped our homeschool experience.

With all of that being said here is our own May reading list:

Christian Hero’s Then and Now: Nate Saint

Friendle

Henry Huggins

The Giving Tree

Christian Hero’s Then and Now: Cameron Townsend

Biomes of the World: Desert

What About Deserts

The Importance of Michaelangelo

Michaelangelo

Famous Artists Michaelangelo

The Little Island

Cultures and People of Jamaica

Enchantment of the World The Dominican Republic

Enchantment of the World Cuba

The Secret Life of Trees

Eyewitness Books Tree

Crinkleroots Guide to Know the Trees

Arthur’s Chicken Pox

The Treasure

Fiesta Babies

Brown Bear, Brown Bear,  What Do You See?

Little Critter This is My Town

Mouse Soup

Just a Duck

Hedgie’s Surprise

 

The first few chapter books we will use a read alouds and just free reading. There nature books about trees we will be incorporating into our nature walks. The books about deserts will be used in our book basket time for the first week of May. The books about countries in North America will also be used in our book basket time during the first week of the month. The giving tree will be used on Fridays as we add in some poetry and different reading and writing times just for fun.

We have added a few books on Michaelangelo and we will use these as examples while we explore this artist. We will recreate his style and make one of our own creations for some art investigation time this week. We currently use My Fathers World for our spine but We do not use the art book that they provide. I prefer to have my older student learning about famous artists from history, different styles of art and trying them out rather than “crafting” for subject time. I  think a lot of kid crafts are really fun and a great way to learn but for art as a subject we want to move to something a little more formal this year since he is getting older.

Our Michaelangelo unit will be fairly short but hopefully packing a lot of information. I will post our schedule and what we use once we have finished.

Most of the young child readers listed at the end of the list are for my toddler. She is able to really get into stories right now. She especially loves stories with animals as characters. We will be focusing on reading stories, talking about them, acting them out and working with simple workbooks. (connect the matching items with a line type of workbooks)

She will begin formal “homeschool preschool” during July as we are in the middle of a move currently.

The science books, and easy readers will last for only a week. The chapter books may last 2 weeks, depending on our schedule. We will go to the library again next week and switch out our science, social studies, geography/culture, and easy readers with another set. This supplements our book basket time each day so trips to the library are necessary each week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April Homeschool Update

If you are interested in what’s happening in our homeschool… keep reading to check out our April Homeschooling update!

So as you may or may not know we homeschool year round. For us it is just easier and I will probably make another blog post on how we schedule our year round school calendar and how we plan for our days off. It is easy to accomplish and we actually feel that it is better for us to school year round while living in Japan as the summer in Tokyo is not actually the best season for spending your time outside. We have an extensive list as to why we start our “school year” in the spring but that is for another time!

First of all, we can not believe that it is April already! It seems like March just started and it is already finished! We enjoyed a lot of great activities, books, and science experiences in March and even finished our Apologia science curriculum that we had been working through since last October. We really enjoyed many of the curriculum choices and add ins that we used but to be honest it has been a bit of a challenge. We were ending our scheduled school year and preparing for the next season to start.

We have been gearing up to start our next curriculum which will be based around My Father’s World: Exploring Countries and Cultures (aka MFW:ECC). We did end up buying almost all of the supplies used and this saved me a decent amount. I started shopping for the products one by one on Amazon a few months prior to our April start date. We are actually still waiting on a couple of items that we need for the school year but we are going to get started even thought they are not here yet. A couple of the books will not be used until later in the year so we can get by without them for now.

We also had a special couple of boxes that arrived form family in the United States that were loaded down with books. There were many good books that will help fill our book baskets and followed along with our countries and cultures themes and we plan to add those in as we see fit with the plan. There were also a few books that kind of tied in with our previous curriculum and my son was really interested in reading them before we started our new school year.

Soooo we have been finishing up :

(these are our just for fun books this month, not what we have been using for curriculum / planned study)

Daniel Boone

Who is Issac Newton

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry

The Magic Tree House: Dragon of the Red Dawn

Various Pokemon Books

The Secret Garden

My son really got into Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry. I think he learned so much about history and could relate it to certain subject that currently come up on the news today. He has a broader understand and why people from different generations have different feelings and ideas about things than our family currently does. It really gave a great glimpse into history and no matter your age or where you come from you could really get lost in the main characters feelings like you were standing there with her. I won’t ruin the book for anyone who has not read it… but I think it is a book that all children should read. I do suggest it as a read aloud with a parent – especially if your child is young so that you can explain some of the language used and why it is inappropriate and some history to go along with the book. If I would not have been reading this book aloud with my 8 year old he would have bene very confused about some of the scenes because he would not understand about the state of the country after slavery and the changes in the south at that time. I never read this book as a student but I wish that my public school would have read this. Skim through the book before purchasing and make sure your child is at an appropriate age to really “get it” though. Some context would be too much for young readers. (FYI there is references to graphic things but the book does not always describe them… you will have to interpret them on your Childs level. This would make some parents uncomfortable. I think it needs to be told though. But maybe for children a little older)

We have also been working with fractions. We have finished Singapore Math 4A&B. We are kind of disappointed with this book. We used the US version and I did not think that there were enough practice problems for how quickly the book moved through each concept of fractions. So instead of moving right into the next level we are spending a few days just prating and reviewing with fractions. We are using the Ikea chalkboard and roller paper and just doing a quick quiz with different types of review problems. It is a fun change of pace from the regular book. I mix in some easier review multiplication with different types of fraction problems. Then we also add in some multistep word problems and try to make it enjoyable. We will be trying out teaching textbooks for the start of our next school year.

We have never used teaching textbooks before and I am not sure how it will go. It does take up a bit more space than our Singapore workbook and text book so that is unfortunate when we are traveling but it is still portable when needed. Most days we do complete our work at home so, I think this will still work out just fine! I also like the idea of a “teacher” on the computer to explain the lessons. this way, if my son is feeling confidant and really catching on he can keep on moving without my help. Then later I can log in and see his lessons results. It auto grades the answers and I can look for any problem areas very quickly. Then we can spend more time on difficult areas rather than wasting time.

We have finished Apologia: swimming creatures. If you have a child that is into seas life they will really enjoy it. I know a lot of people shy away from this as they feel it is a year long program. It was not an entire year long for us. We went through the entire book, did some note booking, and projects and still finished in 5 months. I think the thing to remember is that we did this in 5 months with holiday breaks and other breaks off. We didn’t rush but I did make it a priority. Science and Math are a big priority. We do them bother EVERY school day. However Science does not have to take too long. We do not have to do an activity or a project along with it everyday but we will AT MINIMUM read  a couple sections from the science book.

It has been really fun when my son sees something here in Tokyo that we have learned about in our science book. He loves being our “tour guide” and telling us all about nay sea life that we are seeing!

He has been asking for Apologia: Flying creatures and we have ordered it but have not received it just yet. We bought it used from Amazon. An important note is that any Military families can get 40% off all Apologia curriculum. That is a great deal and I just wanted to pass that along to anyone who might come across this site. (which is not many people! ha!)

We are still making our way through the book shark and Sonlight book lists. We just add in the books that fit in with what we are currently studying. We love them. We love to read. We might be banned from our library soon since we always have about 30 books or more at a time!

We wil be posting updates throughout our time with My Fathers world. We will try to include info on any projects we make or extras we add in. We like the curriculum but we do have to increase it for challenge and I don’t think that is a big issue though. My son loves the activities and hands on projects. It really reinforces what he has learned and he likes to show off his art! If you kid is not into crafty things they would not like this program. As a mom I find it so helpful because the projects are simple, fun, and the materials do not cost much.

We Will be posting our first week asap! Happy Spring Break!