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About lilajoy

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    Hive Mind Worker Bee
  1. Hi All! I'm looking for really engaging nonfiction books that would work well as read-alouds for either my 8-year-old or my 11-year-old, or both. Topics could include history, science, or really anything engaging and educational. I'm particularly interested in more substantial chapter books or really engaging textbooks, but I'm also happy to hear about great picture books or other shorter texts that you'd recommend for the Upper Elementary and/or Middle School set. (My 11-year-old has a good vocabulary and a lot of background knowledge, so high-school level books would probably work, too, if they're not too dry in tone.) For History, we have enjoyed Story of the World, A Little History of the World, and the Joy Hakim History of US books. For Science, we are loving John Hudson Tiner's A History of Medicine and planning to buy more of his books. Based on this, what else might we like? What other books have a great narrative flow and really capture interest? Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
  2. My daughter (6 but almost 7) has similar issues to your son. She just isn't catching on as well or as quickly as it seems she should be, and I know she needs something more intensive. She, too, keeps confusing b's and d's. She, too, does well with ETC (just finishing Book 2), yet still can't fluently get through an easy-reader. She, too, sometimes inserts letters that aren't there. And she sometimes even forgets "sight" words that she's seen a thousand times, like "what" and "were." She is making progress, and she can decode basic words and slog through really easy books. But the going is very slow -- too slow, I think. I don't know whether she is dyslexic (I suspect she may be, at least mildly), but I've decided I will work with her as though she is, just in case. I've just ordered Language Lessons Through Literature, Book 1, which gets good reviews for being a program that really breaks down phonograms for kids. Fingers crossed. I am also thinking of getting a set of phonogram flash cards. I feel weird doing all this when my son learned to read by age 6 with just Hooked on Phonics and some BOB books! But she needs more, so I have to figure out how to meet those needs. At any rate, this post is just to empathize with you! I would love to know what you end up deciding to do and how it goes for you. I have looked into AAR, but since we are not homeschooling, only supplementing at home, I worry it might just be too much for us to actually get done. I am willing to make or find the time, however, if that's what it takes to get her reading fluently. Feel free to send me a message if you'd like to chat about this one-on-one and get into more specifics. My daughter's situation really does seem so similar to your son's.
  3. My son is also working through Beast Academy as a supplement, just on weekends. I would say that the guide books are essential. Beast Academy approaches math in a different way from most other programs, and the guides are where the big ideas are presented. There are reminders and tips in the practice books, but unless your child is a very strong math student who can think conceptually and outside of the box, I think it would be hard to make full sense of them. Also, the guide books are so much fun and a huge part of the appeal of Beast Academy. That said, if your child really is advanced in math then maybe it would be fine. Perhaps you could try having your child do a few lessons with the practice book only, not the guide, and see how it feels and how it goes?
  4. Bernard Evslin's The Adventures of Ulysses (published in the 1960s) is an excellent retelling, with lyrical prose and an engaging style. The middle schoolers I know who have read it LOVED it, and I would say it's ideal for ages 10-14. It could be read independently but also makes a great read-aloud.
  5. My kindergarten daughter is doing Horizons Math (on weekends and then over the summer). She completed Horizons Math K, Book 1, and we've decided to skip Book 2 and go on to Horizons Math Grade 1, Book 1. She just started it a few weeks ago and so far, so good. I like Horizons for the built-in spiral review and for its bright colors and variety of activities, which my daughter enjoys. I do feel it's a little weak on conceptual math and word problems, but the program she's doing in school emphasizes that more and I will supplement for that as needed down the line.
  6. I'm always on the lookout for math materials to energize my son (8 years old, finishing up 2nd grade). He dislikes math and generally avoids it, but he is also capable and can master concepts pretty well when he finally puts forth the effort. Since he attends public school during the day and has daily math homework, we don't have time for a full-scale math curriculum at home. Rather, we need a supplement (or a combo of supplements) that can help him review and retain his skills and, I hope, bring some joy into it for him. I do have Life of Fred (first 3 books), which he likes but hasn't really taken to, and now that he is heading into 3rd grade, I'm wondering about Beast Academy. Could it be done as a read-aloud only, or as a read-aloud with just minimal extra practice in the workbook? Or do you really have to go through the full sequence for it to make sense? My son loves comics and monsters, so it looks like a great fit, but we just wouldn't have time to do the worksheets except on weekends and over the summer. The reading we/he could do during the week, however. I'm also considering CTC Math, which is expensive but looks pretty solid. And I have a whole host of workbooks at home that we already use as needed for extra practice, include Spectrum, Horizons, School Zone, Evan Moor (I got a little too catalog-happy!). So we don't need drill. We need something fun and engaging, and I would like something we could follow in sequence instead of just picking bits and pieces as we do now. Long story short: would Beast Academy work as a read-aloud, with some workbook practice on weekends? How about CTC? Any programs or approaches you recommend? Thanks!
  7. Thank you all for these very helpful suggestions. I am looking through them now and looking into what you've recommended. Much appreciated! (And thanks, Mom27Kids, for your kind words!)
  8. Mathematical Reasoning (Critical Thinking Co.) is a good series for math-minded kids. Your son is probably ready for the K or 1st grade levels. They are bright, colorful books with a variety of math topics and activities, often conversational, and they emphasize problem solving and mathematical reasoning (as the title states). They're less "workbooky" than other workbooks.
  9. I'm still trying to figure this out. As of now: For DD (5, going into kindergarten) --Horizons Math K (she's halfway through Book 1 now, and we plan to continue through Book 2 over the summer and next year) --Explode the Code Book 1 --Plaid Phonics Level A (we're just begun this, and we'll continue) --The Reading Lesson (continuing) --practice writing/reading a few basic sight words --DK geography workbook K (finishing up) --some logic puzzles and activities For DS (8, going into 3rd grade): --math -- introducing multiplication/division. I have a few simple store-bought workbooks for this but no cohesive plan yet. --writing -- ?? need a plan/program here --phonics/spelling -- ?? need a plan/program here, too --typing practice (have to find and choose a good program) --DK geography workbook 2nd Grade (finishing up) --some logic puzzles and activities I read aloud to both kids all the time, including lots of non-fiction (history and science). We also do science experiments about once a week over the summer (my husband loves to arrange this).
  10. Hi All, I would really appreciate some feedback and guidance. My 8-year-old son is in 2nd grade and reads fluently (on a 4th or 5th grade level), but his writing is abysmal. His spelling is atrocious, he's sloppy, he doesn't have good writing mechanics, and his writing is choppy and stilted (no transition words, etc.). I know he's still young, but I really want to nip this early and turn it around now. I want to find a good writing program for him, and I also want something for phonics. Since my husband and I both work full-time, we will be doing this work with him mostly on weekends and over the summer. For phonics, I was thinking of Explode the Code (maybe starting at Book 4 or 5?) or Plaid Phonics (Book B or C?). Has anyone used these programs with an older child? Are there any other phonics programs or books I might consider? It doesn't need to be a reading program, just strictly phonics and spelling/grammar. For writing, I would like something that is easy-to-follow, not too overwhelming, yet that steadily builds up skills and stamina. My son is resistant to writing, so something engaging would be ideal -- but effectiveness is the most important thing. Any and all recommendations appreciated. Thank you!
  11. My son's school uses Go Math! and they follow it to the letter, going through each lesson exactly as presented in the materials. He's in second grade now and has been using this program since kindergarten, so I know it well. I've also purchased the supplementary Student Practice books for each level up through 4th grade, so I've got a good sense of the scope and sequence of the program and how concepts are taught. That said, math is not and has never been a strength of mine -- so I don't have the insight that a "mathy" person might. My thoughts: Fewer topics are covered in the early years than in some other programs, though they eventually get to everything if you go through the whole program. If you read their materials, you learn that this is deliberate; they specifically aim to cover less but to make sure the kids really understand the math. It's a very conceptual program with a strong focus on ensuring that kids can process the reasoning behind what they are doing. Students are regularly asked to explain their understanding, which gets quite tedious and frustrating but also helps the teacher (and parent) see where a child lacks understanding. There are many word problems and lots of applied math, which is good. Go Math! is obsessed with ten frames in the early grades, and I wish they would represent numbers in different ways (number bonds, number lines, etc.). On the other hand, all the ten frame work does ensure that students have a firm base 10 mentality moving forward, which is good. Go Math! also builds spiral review into the homework assignments (if your child's teacher uses them). This has been great, as it has prevented my son from forgetting previously learned concepts and skills. Like someone else said, I have sometimes found the assessments to be more challenging than the daily homework. I have not found the program in general to be too easy, but then again, I am not "mathy" (and neither is my son). I'd say the level of challenge is just about right. Hope this helps.
  12. We follow our own slightly modified version of the Core Knowledge sequence pioneered by E.D. Hirsch, with the What Your __ Grader Needs to Know (NTK) books as a spine. (We love them!) To keep things from feeling too disjointed, we do world history in the winter and spring, British history in the summer (my husband is English), and American history in the fall. For any given lesson, I read a few pages from the history section of the NTK book aloud to him, then ask him comprehension/follow-up questions that he must answer in full sentences. It's essentially oral narration as described in The Well-Trained Mind. I write his responses down, and we review old answers from time to time to refresh his memory. Eventually, I plan to print out all of his responses and compile them into a book that he can illustrate (he loves to draw). I also supplement with a variety of books and videos. So, if we're studying Egypt or whatever, we'll read other books on the topic. We haven't done a lot of projects, alas, but there isn't time for everything. He's way into science, so most of our projects end up being science-related. This system has been working really well for us. He loves "reading history," as we call it, and his understanding is good. The Core Knowledge sequence covers both world and American history in roughly equal proportions, which is different from SOTW. Also, n each book, topics are presented in chronological order, but the sequence overall is not strictly chronological like SOTW. SOTW covers some topics that simply aren't addressed in Core Knowledge (at least, not in the early years). On the other hand, I find that Core Knowledge covers topics more in-depth, with a smooth narrative tone, and introduces vocabulary and concepts effectively (e.g., democracy, civilization, citizenship). I do like SOTW, though, and we listen to the discs from time to time. Here's what is covered in the first few years of Core Knowledge, to give you an idea: KINDERGARTEN World: Maps and Globes, Continents (including cultural and climate/habitat info, not just location) American: The American flag, Native Americans (covering different tribes/cultures), Christopher Columbus, Pilgrims, Thanksgiving, Revolutionary War/Fourth of July, Slavery, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Mt. Rushmore FIRST GRADE World: Ice Age/Prehistory, Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, World Religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) American: Pre-Columbian Americas (Maya, Aztecs, Incas, etc.), Spanish explorers, English explorers, Jamestown, Pilgrims, Puritans, Slavery, 13 Colonies, Revolutionary War (more in-depth than K), Benjamin Franklin, Deborah Sampson, Phillis Wheatley, The Louisiana Purchase SECOND GRADE World: Origins of Civilization, Mesopotamia (revisited), The Indus Valley, Hinduism, Buddhism, Ancient China, Japan, Ancient Greece (in-depth, including philosophers, myths, etc.). American: The Constitution, James Madison, The War of 1812, Westward Expansion, Erie Canal, Pioneers, Oregon Trail, California Gold Rush, Indian Removal/Displacement, The Civil War, Immigration and Citizenship, Civil Rights (profiles of Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mary McLeod Bethune, Martin Luther King, and others).
  13. If you are after-schooling or have after-schooled a 2nd or 3rd grader, what are you doing and what has worked well? How do you prioritize what to focus on? Would love to hear what resources you like and what other families are doing.
  14. We're still figuring out our summer plans, but the hope is to be traveling/away for much of the summer. I'm a teacher, so I get to be a stay-at-home mom in the summer, which is nice. I'll probably sign the kids up for a week or two of camp, just for their enjoyment, but otherwise they'll be home with me. For my son (age 7, going into 2nd grade next year), the plan is: Daily sentence writing -- not quite sure how I will structure it yet, but I want him to practice spelling, handwriting, and writing mechanics, and just to stay in the habit of writing daily as he does in school. Math workbook to practice addition and subtraction facts to 20. He is good at math, but I want the arithmetic to become automatic so that calculations never slow him down or trip him up as he moves on to higher topics in the math. Math enrichment -- if there's time and he shows interest, we'll preview some of the upcoming 2nd grade topics with him, like regrouping. Science and social studies -- we will continue to read about and discuss topics in science and history all the time. I'd like to do some cool experiments with him, which I find we don't have a lot of time for usually. Reading -- 20 minutes reading to me every day, plus lots of independent reading. And I will continue to read to him often.
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