this week's selections
this week’s selections

The heart and soul of our homeschool is literature and poetry. We spend two hours every morning immersed in books followed by another half hour of free-read time. We also devote one afternoon a week to the study and appreciation of poetry.

We devour books.

I’ve received a steady trickle of requests since I started sharing our weekly read-alouds on Instagram a few months ago. Some people want to know how I get my kids to sit still and listen. Others want to know how our books are chosen or if the children like them. Do we quit books that are horrible? (We haven’t found one that bad just yet…close though.) Do the children give oral or written narrations? Book reports? How do I know they comprehend the material? Are they even listening?

20160205_074520 (480x640)No, I do not make the kids sit still during our morning time. They usually curl up with a pillow and favorite blanket but will also play with the cat. Our kitty uses read-aloud time to pounce on the children and play. She also will drag her favorite string over and beg quite vocally until someone plays with her. The five-year old has also been known to pounce on someone hoping for a pillow fight…homeschool life y’all!

Nearly all of the books we read aloud have corresponding work during our table time so it becomes really obvious if someone did not pay attention. Discussion follows everything we read. I also started pointing out interesting word choices or phrases to the kids while reading aloud. They are starting to do the same as well and I enjoy hearing words and phrases that stand out to them.

they get cozy during read aloud time
they get cozy during read aloud time

We begin our read aloud time in the morning right after breakfast. Seriously, who wants to tackle scientific laws, mathematical equations or, worst of all–grammar at eight in the morning? Well, I’m sure someone reading does but not this family. I have a basket near the fireplace that holds all of our read-aloud books for the week. I usually prep the books and magazines we will go through sometime on Sunday.

We begin with our Beautiful Feet Books history selection. I generally read all of these books aloud as well as any extra recommendations within the guide. The guide usually has some questions for us to discuss and other assignments that kids will work on during our table time. Our next book is from the Brave Writer Arrow selections. These books are part of our grammar

first part of extra-curricular book haul
first part of extra-curricular book haul

curriculum and also have a simple literary element based writing assignment. I choose ten books each school year and we take about four weeks to go through each book. We all take turns reading theses books aloud. I keep a pad near by and write down any words they have trouble pronouncing for vocabulary work. I also instruct them on reading aloud clearly and with grammatical correctness for their listeners. No mumbling or rushing through!

poetry tea time
poetry tea time

I try to round out the rest of our books with rotations from science, art, natural history, geography, Shakespeare or whatever we currently find interesting. At the moment we are reading about the America’s before the arrival of Columbus and Native American’s local to Kentucky for the beginning of our national and state histories.

Our books this week:

The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly is from our Beautiful Feet Books curriculum. We are only the first few chapters in but it is excellent! The kids always beg to read just one more chapter…

Redwall by Brian Jacques is a Brave Writer Arrow title. This book bores me to tears…so predictable I can hardly stand it. This is the first Arrow selection we did not like. So far the rest of the books have been enjoyable. One more week and we will finish this book…

Before Columbus: The Americas of 1491 by Charles C. Mann. This is a spine book for our Native American/Early American History/State History studies. Our history curriculum begins the study of American history with Vikings and Columbus but I believe it is important to study the culture and civilizations that already existed prior to the arrival of Europeans. Anyway, this book is fascinating and we all enjoy it. I will likely look for the adult version of this book for my own reading.

The Legend of Blue Jacket, The Cherokees: A First Americans Book, In a sacred Manner I Live and Myths and Civilization of the Native Americans all go with our unit study. I’m just going through the shelf at the library and picking these as I go.

Dinosaurs: The Grand Tour by Keiron Pim and Jack Horner is pretty good if you love dinosaurs. I don’t but Middle Boy finds them fascinating. We read about one dinosaur a day and we’ll be reading it for a long while.

Your Visit to the Louvre My husband brought this book back from his visit to the museum years before he met me! We look through a two page spread each day and I give the kids a freewrite assignment out of it on occasion. This is a very informal art appreciation…

National Geographic and Archeology are magazines that we enjoy reading together. I usually just read one or two main articles from the magazines and the kids will finish reading them on their own. My mom usually brings us these magazines from yard sales and sometimes the library has a stack of free magazines. We like the variety of subjects and historical tidbits found in these.

books for this session
books for this session

Once our Native American studies are concluded we will begin reading about math. I’m putting together a little overview of the history of mathematics as well as some literature that includes solving math and puzzles. I noticed last year that my kids interest in science increased when we went through a literature based history of science. They were inspired by the stories of the scientists. I saw the same thing happen this winter when we studied Shakespeare through literature. They fell in love with Shakespeare and were then eager to study and watch a play. I hope to light a little spark for math. My kids love read aloud time and I have found it to be the easiest way to introduce them to some topics that they may not explore on their own.

Here is a great read from the Beautiful Feet Books’ blog on How Stories Create Us.