The Complete Idiot’s Guide To European History

The Complete Idiot’s Guides aren’t just for idiots!

Who knew right?

It turns out they can be super handy tools for learning. They offer condensed info on subjects and are generally presented in a way that can be understood pretty easily. Mind you, some vary and are meant for kids while others are meant for adults. You can absolutely use the adult versions for kids, just keep in mind that some of the info may be over their heads.

For example, today Little Divine learned what heretic means. She’s ready The Complete Idiot’s Guide to European History. She’s been studying through the ages starting from the beginning and working her way up. This book was a suggested book from the library website based on other books I was getting for her on the subject. I’m surprised it was suggested as it isn’t a children’s book, but I like trying new things so we’re using it!

Little Divine is turning 11 next month so I didn’t feel it would be too over her head. I figured she’d ask questions as she read, like she did this morning with heretic.

I’m very pleased with how the book is set up. There are lots of chapters and each is relatively small, between 10 and 20 pages usually. I find that breaks up easier for younger readers. As you can see in the picture, I’ve used sticky tabs to mark each chapter with the date and pages she needs to read. I find this to work wonders with helping her keep on target with her reading. It’s easy to forget which chapter you were on after a weekend so sticky notes help kids know what to read and when!

We are two days into the book and so far so good! I am not one of the coddle my child parents so if death and crime come up in her book, I’m okay with her reading it. It opens up discussions on so many things! History is often very, VERY ugly. I don’t feel that at this age there is a reason to hide that from her. I also want her to see the good in history as well. I strive to give her a very well rounded view of each subject she learns.

We are planning to get more of The Complete Idiot’s Guide books on many more topics! Have you used these books in your homeschooling before? Tell me what you thought!

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Reading Based Homeschooling

 

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I am constantly trying to find the best way to do things for our family and ways to improve our lives. Homeschooling is a very flexible system of education and we tweak it as needed. When we started off homeschooling years ago Little Divine loved doing her workbooks. They were colorful, fun and engaging. They held her interest and she enjoyed doing them. As we’ve progressed over the years the books have become less colorful, less fun and she doesn’t enjoy doing them as much. We will find a few that she enjoys and gets a lot out of, but a majority are just very plain looking and the book work isn’t something that appeals to her as much.

When we find that something isn’t working, we evaluate it and see if we can find a way to work. If it’s just not working out – it’s time to look for an alternative. That’s exactly what I did for Little Divine. She LOVES to read and is reading at a 9th grade level at least. Books have always been something she’s loved since she first learned to read. She enjoys reading  daily and gets a lot out of it. Because of this I started looking online for information on book centered homeschool curriculum and ways of teaching.

The program I like the best is Build Your Library. This program offers a low cost curriculum for grades K – 9. I’m hoping they expand to higher grades each year so we can move up with them! You purchase each year individually and they each come with generally the same stuff depending on grade level.

  • A lesson plans with:

    • a daily and weekly schedule
    • reading list
    • a set of narration cards
    • vocabulary words, discussion questions and dictation passages tied to the literature readings
    • Weekly writing assignments
    • memory work projects
    • Activity pages (including map work)
    • research projects
    • art projects

The price isn’t bad at $24.95 – $54.95 per set depending on the grade level. That’s a small cost compared to other yearly curriculum programs! I have never been a fan of homeschool curriculum companies who think charging families $300-$600 a year for a curriculum is fair business. Homeschool should not be that expensive. This is another reason I like Build Your Library because I feel their prices are very reasonable.

Little Divine is in 5th and 6th grade books right now. Build Your Library has 5th grade working on US History but I wanted to start off our whole reading based learning system from the very beginning. We have begun checking out books from the Ancient History book list from Grade 1 from our local library and will work our way up through the other grade reading lists until we’ve reached our grade level curriculum. This way we get to start at the beginning of history and move forward! (^.^)

Little Divine is super excited! I showed her the books on the list we are working on right now and showed her the lists to follow. She told me that she’d much prefer learning with reading over workbooks. We are not throwing all our workbooks out the window though. Each week she will be given the choice to pick which workbook she wants to work on each day. She can also work on whatever pages in it she wants. I still feel that writing skills and book work is beneficial, but this way she gets to pick what she works on each day and hopefully it will add some enjoyment back into it for her!

Another thing I added is her choice of something to learn about every week. Each week she gets to pick something she wants to learn about and it can be anything! We will go to the library for books on that subject, watch videos online, and find documentaries on it. We will fully immerse in that topic and learn all we can about it! I’ve told her that if she really loves a topic she can extend how long she learns on it, it doesn’t have to just be a week. This gives her another way to guide her learning and enjoy what she’s learning!

I feel that giving her freedom with her education is extremely important. Homeschool isn’t meant to be a duplicate of the school system. It’s meant to be something that’s special and unique for each child. We as parents often have to make decisions for our kiddos but there are also many times we should let them make their own. I will be here to guide her and step in when needed. We should always remain present in our children’s lives and decisions, even when we let them make their own.

I have to say that both of us are so excited for this new path! Sitting down to devote and hour or more to laying out all her lessons and make her worksheet packets is quite a task. It will be a nice change for me to just hand her the workbooks for the week and tell her to work on them as she desires! Homeschool shouldn’t stress out the parents daily either. It should be an enjoyable experience as much as possible. No you won’t always have enjoyable days, but it should be enjoyable more than not.

Have you tried a books based/reading centered curriculum for your kids? What did you think?

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Dions Pizza Club Read

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Our popular local pizza place Dion’s Pizza not only has tasty pizza, but they also offer a Summer Reading program to help promote literacy for children. It’s a really great program that my daughter has enjoyed participating in for the last 4 years. It’s always been a highlight for her each summer! Kids read 6 books to fill up their 1st score card, and then another 6 books to fill up their 2nd score card and complete their program.

Sadly this year they changed the rewards for the program. Previously the kids would receive a drawstring cloth backpack, a Club Read t-shirt, and their second reading scorecard when they turned in their first reading list. Now they just give a slice of pizza when the kids turn in their 1st reading list. While the free slice of pizza is tasty, I’ve found that kids like tangible rewards. My daughter likes seeing the fruits of her labor.

For some reason there were some old Club Read pamphlets where we picked up ours and they still listed the old prizes. So the kids were super disappointed to find they only got a piece of pizza when we showed up at our local Dions. I talked to the staff Facebook and they were kind enough to send the kids backpacks, shirts, stickers, and notepads to make it up to them!

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The kids were thrilled to get the goodies and I appreciated that they went out of their way to do that for them! I think it would be great if they did some brainstorming before the 2017 Club Read to find a way to add some prizes back besides just a slice of pizza. Even if it’s just one item, it would be something tangible the kids would have a reminder of their hard work. Pizza gets eaten and forgotten about.

Thankfully they still give out a free book and a free baseball ticket to the kids who turn in their second score cards! This is also a big deal for the kids because they get to go down to the Isotopes baseball offices and pick up those items in such an exciting place. I’m looking forward to a trip down there in a couple weeks because I know the kids will be thrilled! (^.^)

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