History Series My Children Love

My children have learned more history from their own free reading time than anything we have done together.  The memory pegs my kids have from Classical Conversations helps them to get even more out of reading these books.

I want to share a number of our favorite series for history in the elementary years.  In no particular order:

 You Wouldn’t Want to Be books.

The You Wouldn’t Want to Be series has a quirky way to catching my kids’ attention with their silly subtitles (like You Wouldn’t Want to Be Mary Queen of Scots:  A Ruler Who Really Lost Her Head).  These are amazing, covering topics from Ancient times to U.S. history. I wrote about them a few years ago here where you can see Foundations Cycle match-ups.  My kids have re-read these many times over the years.  These are the shortest and easiest reading level of books on this list.  When we get these at the library, even the librarians comment on the fun titles of the books.

Interactive History Adventures.

The Interactive History Adventures also cover many time periods.  We love to get these at the library also.  They are choose-your-path type books except with historical themes.  The U.S. history ones are my favorites, but we really enjoy most of them.  I included Foundations match ups here.  (The one on The Underground Railroad has a path where you pretend to be slave catchers, and we just couldn’t even read that path in the book.)

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales

These graphic novels are always about dangerous and challenging bits of history.  The first in the series, One Dead Spy, is about Nathan Hale’s namesake.  The World War 1 book, Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood, gives an amazing overview to World War I.  My kids are already anticipating the fall release of one about World War II (Raid of No Return).

Ken Jenning’s Junior Genius Guides

The Junior Genius Guides include other topics than history, but we love the U.S. Presidents and Maps and Geography for studying history.  These books are packed with information but told in a way that grabs kids’ attention.  These books are set up like a “school day” with class periods instead of chapters.  (The non-history ones we are love are: The Human Body, Outer Space, and Greek Mythology.)  If you decide to buy any of these books, this 3-book set is a far better deal than the 3 books individually.

The Complete Middle School Study Guide series

These “Big Fat Notebook” books have packed with wonderful overviews of American History and World History.  Any piece of CC memory work can be found in these as well as lots of other history tidbits.  I actually think the U.S. History one is going to be an excellent resource for me as a Challenge 1 Director next year.  After each section, there are “Check Your Knowledge” quizzes complete with “Check Your Answers” so you don’t have to wonder if they are right.  My kids don’t really get the “Everything you need to Ace” each class title for the books in this series since we homeschool and don’t teach to a test, but these are a wonderful resource.  (Other books in the series include non-history topics:  English Language Arts, Math, and Science.  The English one does include topics not covered in the CC Essentials program – like theme, plot, etc.)

Note:  These books are secular so they include evolutionary human origins.  They are also very current in their publication dates so the U.S. one include the Supreme Court ruling on marriage (in a very matter-of-fact way).

As I made this list, I’m sure I forgot some of my kids’ favorites.  What history series do your kids enjoy?

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Gift Ideas that are Fun and Educational

gift ideas that are fun and educational

Today, I sat around a table with some great friends of mine.  As our children all ran through the house and yard, we started sharing a few gift ideas with each other.  A few of the moms even ordered items I suggested on their phones as we chatted.

Even though most of you are probably already done with your Christmas shopping, I thought I’d take a minute to share a few ideas with you anyway.  These are items my children are getting for Christmas (or already received at a recent family gathering).

Most of these items come with a low price tag.  Other than the lego set, we paid less than $20 for each of these.  If they are higher priced than that, I would wait to buy them.  The high prices may be due to low stock.

In no particular order:

Kutz LEGO Chain Reaction Craft Kit.  This kit includes a fun book showing how to set up lego chain reactions as well as including lego pieces to do this.  Since I have a son who loves Rube Goldberg machines, I hope this kit sparks much more creativity in our lego building.

Awesome Lego Creations with Bricks You Already Have.  I’m excited about this book that finally just arrived at our house.  (Amazon was out of it for a week or two.)  There are step-by-step instructions to build all sorts of lego creations (animals, robots, etc) as well as “creative challenges” where they give you key lego pieces to collect but don’t spell out the directions.  I love the detailed supply lists for the projects and that we can use the legos we already own.

Klutz Star Wars Thumb Doodles Book Kit.  I was searching on Amazon for a craft book for my youngest.  This is the same style of book as this Sweet and Sparkly Fingerprint Kit Ruthie had years ago but with a Star Wars theme.  I know he is going to love it.  I remember Ruthie really getting into creative little art projects with her book, and I hope this one does the same for Gideon.

Mini Pom-Pom Pets craft kit. My daughter could use craft kits every day of the week.  I thought this one looked fun and had a few new skills in it. She has already been given Sew Mini Treats this week.

Lego Birds Model Kit.  These are display-worthy realistic birds, complete with Latin name plaques. Ruthie received these as a gift at a family gathering, and they are wonderful.  I was really impressed with this kit.  It’s apparently been discontinued by Lego but is still available for purchase.  I hope Lego makes more kits like this in the future.

 

And, there you have it.  Just a few educational but fun gift ideas.

Do you have gifts you are looking forward to giving this Christmas that are fun and educational?

 

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Isaiah’s Top 5 Easy Reader Books

Isaiah wanted to share some of his favorite easy reader books.  Here are his top 5 easy reader books (or series of books).  All of these books we have gotten from our local library.

Isaiah's Top 5 Easy Reader Books

This top 5 is in no particular order.

1.  Wild Kratts (Step into Reading) – From Isaiah:  “These books have a little story (like the show) but also lots of animal facts. Each book talks about three main types of animals.”

Here are some of them Isaiah has enjoyed:

2.  National Geographic Readers – If Isaiah sees an animal book is from National Geographic, he’ll usually check it out and read it.  These two are his favorites and have been in our home many times.


“I like Prehistoric Mammals because I learned a lot about the mammals that lived back then.  Some of them were big like dinosaurs. This book does have creation mistakes, but these animals God created are amazing.”


“I like Weird Sea Creatures because it doesn’t only talk about the weird one.  It compares types of fish and says how they are similar.”

 

3.  Animal Superpowers    “I like this because it shows how amazing God created the animals.  There are multiple creatures that have the same power.  For instance, the flea and the panther both jump well. This book isn’t just about animals but it gives you the feel of a super hero while learning about animals. I learned how the octopus could look like many different sea creatures like a toboggan shark. The octopus can also look like a giant sea scorpion. I got this one out from the library more than once.  This book even includes a pangolin.”

4.  Nate the Great   “Nate the Great is a detective series.  One of the books was called Nate the Great and The Phony Clue. It taught me about invisible ink.”

5.  Elephant and Piggie.  “Elephant and Piggie is a funny series.  They are easier than the ones I already listed. They are about an elephant named Gerald and his friend Piggie.  They have funny adventures, and some of them they seem like they are really silly and they aren’t thinking.  These books are LOL funny.”

Here are three of his favorites in this series:

There you have it – Isaiah’s top 5 easy reader books.  What books do your children love in the easy reader section?  Do you have any new suggestions for Isaiah?

 

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Nature Anatomy: A Book Review

We recently checked a new book Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World out of the library, and Ruthie loves it.  We hope to add Nature Anatomy to our book collection some day soon.

Nature Anatomy A book review

Ruthie and I worked together to write this review.

First, from Ruthie:

I like this book because it tells you so many cool facts.  I like where it tells you information about life cycles.  It also shows you illustrations like leaf identification.  I also like the chapter about different animals.  The book also tells you about plants, rock, the phases of the moon, and other cool diagrams like fossils.  Each topic is only a page or two long.  There are lots of illustrations and diagrams.  At the end of chapters, sometimes there are projects you can do.      

As a mom, I love that Nature Anatomy is packed with science information related to CC memory work.  Ones I’ve noticed just flipping through are phases of the moon, types of rocks, rock and mineral identification, parts of plants and flowers, fungi, parts of the earth, layers of the atmosphere, and cloud types.  There is an entire chapter on different kinds of animals as well as sections on tree and bird identification.

Another feature I enjoy is that the book uses illustrations instead of photographs.  Because of this, my children like to try to copy the pictures into their nature journals.  Elijah’s drawing of the rock cycle helped him to learn how the rocks are all related to each other.  By the time he was done drawing, he really had a much firmer grasp on this concept.

Sketches from Nature Anatomy

There are two aspects of this book someone might not like.  The one down-side to this book might be that a number of the diagrams include cursive writing.  I actually like it because my older two have been working on writing in cursive.  I love that they are now trying to read more in cursive.

The other down-side is that there isn’t a good index for the book.  When you read the chapter headings, it does list topics covered in the chapters, but a complete index in the book would have been a nice feature.

This book is new this year.  The author and illustrator also made a book previously called Farm Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of Country Life.  While our library doesn’t have Farm Anatomy, I think we would enjoy it as well.  It includes so much of farm life and rural living.  Even though our family isn’t exactly a city family, we definitely don’t know all the information found in this book.  I hope to get to read this one as well.

Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World is a fun and educational book the whole family can enjoy!

 

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Jupiter and Venus Converge

Our family has been checking the night sky for the last week and watching Jupiter and Venus get closer together.   Of course they are still over 400 million miles apart, but they are lined up nicely from our perspective.  Tonight is actually the closest that they will appear during our lifetimes.

Here is what it looked like last night.

venus and jupiter

 

Tonight, the 2 planets may look like one bright object, but if you look closely, you should be able to tell that they are 2.

 

The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.

Let the heavens declare His righteousness, For God Himself is Judge. Selah

The heavens declare His righteousness, And all the peoples see His glory.