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LLH’s Book of the Week – The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

I can’t wait to start sharing with you a great book every week that we have enjoyed that I think you should read also!

Here is the first week’s book!

Life Learning Homeschool’s Book Recommendation of the Week for 1/14/18
The Cricket in Times Square – by George Selden

Tucker is a streetwise city mouse. He thought he’d seen it all. But he’s never met a cricket before, which really isn’t surprising, because, along with his friend Harry Cat, Tucker lives in the very heart of New York City―the Times Square subway station. Chester Cricket never intended to leave his Connecticut meadow. He’d be there still if he hadn’t followed the entrancing aroma of liverwurst right into someone’s picnic basket. Now, like any tourist in the city, he wants to look around. And he could not have found two better guides―and friends―than Tucker and Harry. The trio have many adventures―from taking in the sights and sounds of Broadway to escaping a smoky fire.

Chester makes a third friend, too. It is a boy, Mario, who rescues Chester from a dusty corner of the subway station and brings him to live in the safety of his parents’ newsstand. He hopes at first to keep Chester as a pet, but Mario soon understands that the cricket is more than that. Because Chester has a hidden talent and no one―not even Chester himself―realizes that the little country cricket may just be able to teach even the toughest New Yorkers a thing or two.
(source)

This has been a delightful book that we are enjoying immensely.  But I feel like a good part of the reason we’ve enjoyed it so much is because we are listening to it on audio.

We listen to a lot of audio books – when we’re traveling or to give mom’s voice a break or just because a certain book was available on audio.  But this is one book I would specifically recommend listening to on audio.  The different character voices, background sound effects and most importantly, the cricket chirping, really enhance the story.  I mean, after all, Chester Cricket is no ordinary cricket – if you don’t have the book on audio, you miss out on hearing Chester chirp The Blue Danube or Onward Christian Soldiers.

The Cricket in Times Square is a 1961 Newbery Honor Book.  Great book, great story, but listen to it on audio for a real treat!

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LLH’s Subject Spotlight: Science

What do you use for Homeschool Science?  There are endless options out there.  Here’s what we’re using for 4th Grade Homeschool Science.

Life, Learning, Homeschool’s Subject Spotlight: Science

We are on our third year of using Apologia Science.  We did an abbreviated run through of Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day – we started before G was finished with 1st grade.  We had zipped through BJU Science 1 because he loved science so much (and it was really easy) so I had Flying Creatures on standby for 2nd grade so we pulled it out and started.

I say “abbreviated run through” because Flying Creatures is WAY in depth (and frankly a little boring at times) and his attention span wasn’t there for it.  Learning Animal Classification was good because that helps in the future Zoology books, learning about birds was great – especially since we were doing it in the spring and we put up bird feeders in the backyard and got to observe lots of birds.  The flying reptiles section (pterosaurs) was great for a dino-loving boy.   Bats were interesting.  But the final chapters on all the flying bugs were what we just hit the highlights of.  We started it in spring of 1st grade and finished shortly before Christmas of 2nd grade.

But that was ok, because it gave us a chance to really slow down for Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day, which was a topic he was REALLY interested in.  So we took the latter half-ish of 2nd grade and all of the 3rd grade to do Swimming Creatures.  We did the ocean box, we added some extra studies/projects (especially on sharks!) and took several field trips (we love aquariums!)

My plan was to do Zoology 3: Land Creatures of the Sixth Day for 4th grade but G wanted a break in animal sciences.  He really wanted to do Astronomy.  So I said everything above to say, this year, we are using Apologia Astronomy.  I ordered the newest edition because there has been so much new information since the previous edition was printed.

So far, I, personally, have been enjoying astronomy more than zoology – just as a topic, not because one course is better than the other.

We love the format of Apologia.  We love the way the textbooks are written – easy to read and understand.  We love the notebooks that go with them.  And we love the in-depth study of one topic at a time.  (Except flying bugs, ha!)   Elementary science when I was in school was like a mad dash to throw a bunch of things at you in a year.  Parts of a plant, photosynthesis, magnetism, weather, basic chemistry, identify types of trees, birds and bugs, the end – and then start over the next year with basically the same topics without ever going very deep.

G is a deep child.  He doesn’t care for basic surface information.  That’s why Apologia works for us.

I did make one mistake when ordering our Astronomy.   I did not get the Junior Notebooking Journal.  Oops.

133432: Exploring Creation with Astronomy Junior Notebooking Journal (2nd Edition) Exploring Creation with Astronomy Junior Notebooking Journal (2nd Edition)

We are making it work, but make sure you know the difference and know which one you need.

133435: Exploring Creation with Astronomy Notebooking Journal (2nd Edition) Exploring Creation with Astronomy Notebooking Journal (2nd Edition)
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4th Grade is Halfway Over

4th Grade is halfway over (like literally, January 8th was our 90 day mark – woohoo!)  and while we’re making good progress with our school work, I’ve done a terrible job with the blog this year!

I’m hoping to change that.  I don’t really make New Year’s Resolutions, but I want to blog more about homeschooling in 2018.

Stay tuned for regular features like “Book of the Week” and “Subject Spotlight”!

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Why We Love Sonlight’s Book of Time

We’re on our third year using Sonlight Curriculum.  We love it.  One part I particularly like is the Timeline Book.  If you’re not familiar with it, here’s how it works, how we use it, and why we love it!


So what is the Book of Time?  Well, when you purchase it, it’s just an empty book basically.  It has a timeline pre-marked with the years, but the pages are otherwise empty for you to fill.

One book is intended to be used through all grades – each year building on what you did the previous year.  So when you’re finished, you have an incredible visual of the chronology of events in history.

Sonlight has timeline stickers that coincide with the history and literature and Bible readings in each Core for you place on the timeline.

But we are guilty of adding SO MUCH MORE than just the stickers with our Core and the notes it guides you to add.

For example, when we were learning about Egypt in Core B/World History Pt 1, I found some great printables (I wish I could remember where) of Egyptian monuments and the dates of their building.  We included those.


I wouldn’t recommend using such large pictures for more modern historical events.  But I had a feeling that the 2500-1500 BC pages wouldn’t get as full as say, the 500 to 1500 AD pages.  And G really loved these images.

We have also been using Story of the World (in place of Child’s History of the World in Sonlight’s Core B and C – that book just wasn’t working for us).

In the Story of the World Activity Guides there are “review cards”.  Those make great additions to the timeline book.  In the picture above, in the top left corner is our SOTW review card on the Minoans and at the bottom, I cut out a blurb about the Aryans.

Another SOTW review card in the picture above.  Also, I use the top edge of the page to note Kingdoms or Civilizations or Reigns that begin or end on other pages of the timeline so that if we’re only looking at one page, we can see at a glance the world dynamic.

The top of the page above says “Ancient Egypt’.  Other pages may have several listings like “Medieval Europe”, “Ming Dynasty” or “Henry VIII’s reign”.

You might ask yourself, WHY would I create MORE work for myself?

Well, because this book enhances our study of history.  We are almost finished with our third year of adding to it and it’s really starting to come together and create this picture of history you can’t get just from reading a book.

For example, 1200-1100BC you can see we have Gideon, Ruth and Naomi, Hannah and Samuel and…. the Olmec people in Mexico.

Whoa.  Had that ever occurred to you?  That when Hannah was praying for Samuel, there was an entire civilization living halfway across the world at the same time?

I think these are the things we miss when we take history and study it in small chunks.  Which, really, is about the only way you CAN study history.  BUT when you assemble a timeline, you start to see how all the pieces fit together.

When we flip open the book to add a note about Alfred the Great, we are also reminded about what was happening in China at that same time.  It’s probably an event we remember reading about but now it’s like, “Oh, so that was happening while this was happening.”

For us it makes history a more living subject.  We will be adding to this timeline for 8 more years.  I can’t wait to see the final result!

I hope this has inspired you to make a timeline of your own!  You can purchase the Sonlight Book of Time even if you don’t use the full curriculum.

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Happy Leif Erikson Day (October 9th) | Here are some reading suggestions:

Happy Leif Erikson Day!

Yeah, yeah, I know that it’s also Columbus Day but poor Leif can’t help it that Columbus Day jumps around (so as to always be on a Monday) and sometimes overlaps his day which is always October 9th.

Anyway, we just finished up the Viking section of history in our Sonlight Core C so we’ve read a thing or two on Leif.

So here are some quick reads on Leif if you need to brush up (I’ve linked to several sources for purchase so you can order from your favorite place and/or get the best price):

Junior Biographies from Ancient Civilizations: Leif Erikson  ( Thriftbooks)

I found this at the library and I hope I can find more in this series.  It’s a great format/level for 3rd/4th grade and up – probably through 6th grade.

Eric the Red and Leif the Lucky     (Thriftbooks)

This book is part of our history reading in Sonlight Core C.  It was a good read.  I read it aloud but it could easily be read by a 3rd/4th grader and understood as a read aloud for 1st/2nd grade.  It was short – easy to read in a day but we split it over about three.

Viking Adventure  (Thriftbooks)

G read this one last year as part of his 3rd grade reading curriculum (Sonlight).  He enjoyed it.  It’s written from the perspective of a young boy on Eric the Red’s (Leif’s father) voyages.  But as we were reading more about Leif this year, G was recalling things he learned about Eric in this book last year.

Viking Ships at Sunrise: Magic Tree House Book #15  ( Better World Books | Thriftbooks)

Because who doesn’t love Magic Tree House?

Vikings: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House #15: Viking Ships at Sunrise (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker)   Better World Books | Thriftbooks)

We love the fact trackers that go along with our favorite Magic Tree House books!

Voyage with the Vikings: Imagination Station Book 1     ( Better World Books | Thriftbooks)

If there are any historical fiction books we like more than Magic Tree House, it’s Imagination Station!  And Voyage with the Vikings is the first in the series, so it’s a good time to pick it up and give the series a try!

 

These books also have a short portion on Vikings/Leif you can look up if you happen to already have them on your shelves:

Explorer’s News   Better World Books | Thriftbooks)

Usborne Book of World History  Thriftbooks)

Usborne Time Traveler   Thriftbooks)

 

Happy Reading Adventures to you!

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What Public School Gets WRONG About Socialization

I thought we were past this but here we are having the Great Socialization Debate…. again.

I was pretty annoyed to read this post entitled What Homeschool Gets Wrong about Socialization on PopSugar Moms.  It can be equated to nothing more than an opinion fluff piece as the author backs up her opinion with ZERO facts or data.  She claims to be a former public school teacher and she bases her opinion on a handful of “previously homeschooled kids” she encountered as a public school teacher.

Now, here’s a logic exercise for you.  Not all homeschool kids that go back to public school are failed homeschoolers.  But if homeschooling is not working for a child, where do they end up?  Back in public school. 

I want to stop here and say I love all my public school teacher friends and my beef with the system has nothing to do with them.  It would be like being mad at my doctor and nurse friends because medical insurance is a mess.  

So in the article, she is saying that homeschool fails at socialization based on a few (she never says how many – my gut says she only encountered one or two) children who had to go to public school that, quite possibly, did so because homeschooling wasn’t working for them.

Again, let me rephrase what I said a few paragraphs up – not every child returns to public school because homeschooling didn’t work.  There are many reasons why a homeschooled child would return to the school setting.  HOWEVER – if homeschooling does not work for a child or is not done right, then there is only one option for that child – to return to a traditional school setting.  The writer of the article in question had zero experience with any homeschool success stories.  The extent of her homeschool experience consisted of a couple kids who had trouble adjusting when they entered public school.  (Which begs the question – did she actually help said children adjust to a new setting or did she just sit back and watch them flounder to prove her biased opinion that homeschoolers aren’t socialized?  Also, if she’s a former teacher, how long ago did she encounter a homeschooled child?  Homeschooling has changed a lot in just 5 years and has changed DRAMATICALLY from what it was a decade ago.)

Ok, back on point.  Her assessment of all homeschoolers based on meeting a couple kids is basically her judging an entire group of diverse people across the country based on 0.000001% of said groups population.  

(Do the math: roughly 2 million current homeschoolers in the US, not counting already graduated success stories – 2 people out of 2 million is 0.000001%)

So here is what I think PUBLIC SCHOOL gets wrong about Socialization backed up with, you know, facts, and data and stuff.

What Public School Gets Wrong About Socialization

1. “Forced Association” is not “Socialization”

When you say kids need to go to school to “socialize”, what you are saying is that kids need to be put in a room of 20-30 other kids based solely on the fact that they are the same age and live in the same general area.  That’s forced association.  The kids have no real choice in who they choose to be around.  And they may make a friend one year and the next be separated because they don’t end up in the same classroom again or they get split into different schools (for example, there is a middle school in my area that serves two areas but then at the high school level some kids go to one and others to another)

Is that really how you want your child learning their manners and habits?  From other kids that are chosen randomly to be in the same room?

2. Bullying and Peer Pressure

The “kids need to be bullied so they know how to handle it” argument does not fly with me.  And, yes, I have seen that argument thrown around.  Bullying is so commonplace and prevalent in schools that people EXPECT their child to be bullied!  There is something wrong with that.

And while US schools don’t rank very highly in education compared to other countries (here, here, here and here and more I got tired of linking to) – they fall in the top ten for number of bullied teenage girls.

And peer pressure was in schools when I was a kid and it hasn’t gone anywhere.  I want my child to learn and grow in an environment free from worrying about if his shoes are the right style and his jeans are the right brand.  I don’t want him worried about girlfriend relationships (having a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” starts RIDICULOUSLY young!)  I don’t want him exposed to drugs and alcohol (even if the drugs aren’t present on the school grounds I don’t want him exposed to talk of it by the kids who do use).

And really, when kids are at their most impressionable ages, do we want them surrounded by peer pressure and having that shape their minds and teaching them to take the advise of other kids?  Or do we want them in the home where we can model our moral values as a family and impress them on our children’s moldable minds and character?

3. School Violence is on the rise

As if bullying and peer pressure weren’t enough, school violence is on the rise.  So much so that the CDC considers it a public health problem.    In 2013, 12% of students 12-18 years old report gang activity at their school (according to the CDC).  Also, from the same source, 4% of students surveyed admitted to carrying a weapon (gun, knife or club) to school in the last 12 months and 6% reported having been threatened or harmed with a weapon in the last 12 months.

No, not every school is that bad.  Yes, there are some good school districts.  But still, it feels a lot like playing Russian roulette with my kid’s safety.

4. Sexual Misconduct

It’s a shame I have to even put this one in here.  It’s bad enough that you have to safeguard your children from other children.  But it’s a whole other atrocity that you have to safeguard your children from the ADULTS behaving badly in schools. I can’t even link to the articles on teachers behaving inappropriately with students because, one, it makes me sick and two, I didn’t even want to Google it.

5. Sitting behind a desk all day is not the “real world”.

I get so tired of hearing that kids that are homeschooled are sheltered and don’t get out in “the real world”.

Since when is being confined in the four walls of a school sitting behind a desk the “real world”??

I would argue that it’s HOMESCHOOLERS that are out in the real world.  This myth that we stay locked in our houses all day every day is nonsense.

G isn’t 9 yet and he can order and pay at a restaurant or for small items at the convenience store.  He’s learning how to make bank deposits. He helps me shop for groceries – he knows how to pick eggs, check dates on milk and find the freshest produce.  Why?  Because he’s with me every time I do these things.  

He’s had several opportunities to work alongside me volunteering during “school hours”.   We get to travel more because we’re not confined to school hours and days – he knows how to read a map and is learning how to travel and navigate a new area.  Not only is he learning important life skills but he’s interacting with adults and learning “real world behavior”.

We enjoy going to the park on nice days during “school hours”.  He’s an only child so he knows that if he wants someone to play with at the park he has to find someone.  Unless we happen to bump into other homeschoolers, his playmates usually consist of kids under 6 that wouldn’t be in school.  And you know what?  He’s fine with that.  He’ll walk up to a kid and ask them to play.  And he’s kind to them, finding some common ground for them to play on.  (My favorite time was when he was playing follow-the-leader with four-year-old twins at the playground.  He was leading them around the playground and they were all having the best time!)   At our fabulous co-op, he regularly plays ball with a group of boys that range in age from 10-16 that treat G the way he treats those kids younger than him on the playground.  With kindness and encouragement.  Treating him like he belongs.

When you divide and group children by age you’re setting them up to gravitate toward that grouping and to look down on younger kids (they’re so “babyish”) and then the kids older than them look down on them also.  And suddenly, they view kids older than them as “cooler” and something to attain to be.  (I can’t wait until I’m such-and-such age so I can be like this person/do what they do).   Instead of teaching kids that they can associate with kids of all ages and get along and work together.

So G regularly deals with “real world” situations with kids younger than him, kids older than him and adults.  Situations that would not happen in school.

It’s kids stuck in school buildings that are missing out on the real world.

6. There isn’t really time to “socialize” at school.

How many of us had a teacher in school that told us we were “there to learn, NOT to socialize”?  I know I did!  And to make matters worse, schools are cutting recess!  (Here and here, also.)  With no free time, how do they “socialize”?  Lunch?  How is that possible when lunch periods are as short as 20 minutes and when you factor in getting to the lunchroom, standing in line, etc, some kids have less than 15 minutes to eat?  That’s hardly enough time to chew and swallow a nutritious lunch.

So recess and lunch aren’t even social times anymore.

So with these SIX reasons why Public Schools are getting Socialization wrong, let me tell you what ONE thing the author of the PopSugar post said Homeschoolers are getting wrong….

They don’t work well on group projects.

Yes, that was her complaint based on her limited experience with previously homeschooled children.  They struggled to do group projects.

Now, in my experience in public school, “group project” meant, “oh great, I’m going to do all the work because I’m the only one in my group that cares about my grade”.  So one could argue that public school doesn’t even get this right.

Again, I’m very skeptical of her opinion because of limited experience with homeschoolers, AND I’ve seen plenty of homeschool kids work together as a group.  We do it every week at our co-op.  And it seems like the majority of homeschoolers are active in groups and co-ops.  So learning group skills is possible as a homeschooler.  It’s unfair to such a large portion of the population to make such a broad generalization based on preconceived notions and a small frame of reference.