6th Grade Reading List

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I think I have finally finished picking the books that AJ will be reading this year. She will be going into 6th grade and was a struggling reader. She is finally starting to enjoy reading so I know that I need a good list of books that will keep her interest. This year we are not using a curriculum for literature, instead we will be using a writing and a grammar curriculum (review coming this week) and will then do studies on different books. I picked a variety of books; some books that I remember reading as a child, a few Newbery Award winning books, and some that just look like fun stories. Some of the books are below the 6th grade reading level but I think that is okay. I am trying to instill a love of reading and feel that the variety in this list will make our literature studies fun, meaningful, and full of learning.

Here is our 6th Grade Reading List


Fantastic Mr. Fox Here is the FREE Unit Study I created for this book.


 Matilda


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory


Stuart Little


The Trumpet of the Swan


 Because of Winn-Dixie


 Pippi Longstocking Here is the FREE Unit Study I created for the book.


 Mr. Popper’s Penguins  You can find the Free literature study I created over at Home & School Mosaics.


 The House at Pooh Corner


 Abel’s Island


Super Fudge


The Sign of the Beaver


The Indian in the Cupboard

She will still pick some library books for free reading, but these books are the ones we will be reading together and picking apart. There will be some author studies and a few comparing and contrasting books and movies. We will be doing a variety of activities with the books. I have lapbooks and worksheets that I have found for part of the books. (That Curric Click sale was a blessing for us!) So far I have made my own studies for The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Pippi Longstocking. I still have a few more books to find resources for but the planning is in session!

So what is your plan for language arts this year?

Elementary Reading Lists

Experience History Through Music

Oh, Susanna, Yankee Doodle, Home on the Range, you  know the songs but do you know the stories and history behind the songs? There is so much history to be learned while learning about the music from the days of our ancestors. This year one of AJ’s assignments was to learn about the history of the song Yankee Doodle. I was surprised that there was not anything kid friendly that explained the history behind the song. Sure there were song books, but nothing that explained the song. We used a few different things and AJ understood the basics behind the song, but I really wished there was a better way to learn. Fast forward a few months and I was offered the opportunity to review Diana Waring’s Experience History Through Music. From the description it seemed as though these books would be exactly what I was looking for, and they were.

Experience History Through Music is a fun way to do just as the title states, learn history through music. There are three titles available in the Experience History Through Music series; Westward Ho! The Heart of the Old West, America The Heart of a New Nation, and  Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Each book  is soft covered and contains beautiful stories and pictures. The books each have between 13 and 16 songs and the stories behind them. Included in the back of each book is the sheet music and lyrics for the songs discussed in the book. There is not really an age requirement for these books, but older teens may find the music a little hoaky. AJ is 11 and enjoyed most of the songs.

Attached to the back cover of each book there is a CD. Each CD was professionally recorded with beautiful instrumental music and vocals.

AJ and I were given a physical copy of; the Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Westward Ho! The heart of the Old West, and all three CDs. We were given a digital copy of America The Heart of a New Nation.

Westward Ho! The Heart of the Old West contains music and stories that have a pioneer spirit. Songs include; Home on the Range, Gooey Duck, Westward Ho!, and many more.We both really enjoyed this book. It shows both the good and bad that happened during the times of the pioneers and really digs into American history. While we read the stories and listened to the songs AJ was learning so much, but she didn’t think of it as school work, she just thought we were having fun. Our favorite song in this book was Gooey Duck. Neither of us has ever heard the song before, but is is upbeat and entertaining. The story behind the song is really eyeopening to what the pioneers had to do to survive.

Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder was the book I was looking forward to the most. Songs include; Wait for the Wagon, Buffalo Gals, Pop! Goes the Weasel, and many more. The pictures and stories in this book would make a great addition to any Little House study. We loved being able to hear some of the music that Pa played for Laura while they were growing up. It is full of pictures of the Ingalls family and the places described in the Little House books. I do have to admit though that out of all the CDs, this one was the one we liked the least. Some of the songs were a little slow and in AJ’s words kind of boring, but that is just the type of music it is.

America The Heart of a New Nation was the book we spent the least amount of time on, mainly because we don’t really enjoy reading books on the computer. The stories were great and even include Yankee Doodle. Other songs included in this book were, Oh, Susanna, Polly Wolly Doodle, She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain and many more. This CD was a favorite around our house, and if we were only going to be able to buy one book I think this one would have been our pick. The music was upbeat and fun and the CD contains so many of the songs we already knew.

All of the books were full of great information to help you and your child learn history through music. The books are available separately for $18.99, but for this month only you can get all three books for only $50. If you are going to be learning about American history, or if you just want to add in a little bit of fun these books might be for you.

Learn more about Diana Waring and her other great programs here.
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101 Bible Stories

From Creation to Revelation
*I received a free copy of the book in order to write this review*



101 Bible Stories from Creation to Revelation is a 217 page hardback story Bible. It doesn’t cover every story in the Bible, but gives a great overview. Story selections come from both the Old and New Testaments and include; Noah Builds a Boat, Baby Moses, Food from Heaven, Jericho, Queen Esther, Mary’s Gift, The Betrayer, Jesus is Coming Back, and so many more. Each story takes up two pages of the book. One side of the page has the story written in easy to understand language along with where in the Bible the story is found. The other side of the page is a full color picture depicting part of the story.

AJ really liked the book because it was written in such easy to understand language. She was excited to be able to read and understand the Bible stories and really enjoyed the fact that they were not watered down. After reading the story in 101 Bible Stories from Creation to Revelation, she was then able to read the same section in her own Bible with better understanding. It is the perfect story book for young independent readers. The illustrations in the book are gorgeous and really add to the stories.

The book is available from ZonderKidz and retails for $12.99. If you are looking for a new book that is more in-depth than a Picture Bible this may be a good buy for you. I think it makes for great bedtime reading.

The Berenstain Bears Keep the Faith

I grew up reading The Berenstain Bears books and have passed the tradition down to my little girl. When I found out they had a new book, The Berenstain Bears Keep the Faith, by Mike Berenstain I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review it. *I was given a free copy of the book from Zondervan in exchange for this review.*

Brother and Sister Bear’s friend Ferdy Factual loves science. Brother and Sister like science too. But when Ferdy tells Brother and Sister he doesn’t believe God created the world, the bear cubs don’t know what to think. What does it really mean to have “faith” in something you can’t see?

Through the book the bear cubs learn about faith and learn a little about the Bible too. The book is a full color soft cover book geared for kids ages 4 to 8. The story leaves the child with enough information to think about what faith means to them, but refrains from coming of in a preachy tone.

What did we think?

I personally feel a good book shouldn’t have an age limit. Even though AJ is 10 she really enjoyed The Berenstain Bears Keep the Faith. The illustrations are fun, life like, and really add to the story. Mike Berenstain  has kept the same fun inquisitive characters that his parents wrote about for many years. The story was cute and too the point ending in the realization that faith is, “trusting in his (God’s) love.” Aside from a few oddly written sentences, I feel the book is perfect. It helps to explain a hard to understand subject in a kid friendly way. Anyone who enjoys reading other books in the Berenstain Bears series will not be disappointed in this new title.

You can purchase the book here for only $3.99.

Alone Yet Not Alone- Review and Giveaway

When I first heard about the book Alone Yet Not Alone I was anxious to read and review it. I love reading books about faith and family and especially enjoy stories based on actual events. I think the best part is that the book is being made into a movie that will be in theaters this summer. Alone Yet Not Alone is a breathtaking historical fiction book about two young sisters who face unthinkable challenges.

About the Book: 

The Leininger family settled deep within America’s new frontier, in the Blue Mountains of Pennsylvania. They were celebrating their blessings, their faith, and a bountiful harvest when their family was torn apart by the Penn’s Creek Massacre. When Barbara and Regina are carried away and separated by Allegheny warriors, both sisters rely in their faith in God’s truth, even in their darkest hour. Rich in historical details, Alone Yet Not Alone is an inspirational, true story of a family caught in the cross fire of the French and Indian War.  

About The Author:

Tracy Leininger Craven loves history and retelling real-life stories in her historical fiction books. She also loves spending her free time in the great outdoors with her husband David and their three children.

What I Thought:

After reading the back of the book I decided that I would read the book myself and make sure it was age appropriate prior to having AJ read it. I tend to be over cautious, and after reading the book found that it would have been perfectly fine for AJ (she is 10) to read. There were violent parts including a person being burned alive, but sadly those types events really happened. Although there was violence, details were spared and I feel the book would be appropriate to read and discuss along with a parent. In fact I will be adding it to the list of the books that AJ will be reading next year. The book was well written and full of suspense. Each chapter left me wanting more and I hated having to put the book down to cook dinner. I cried, and smiled, and really felt connected to the main characters in the book. I would gladly read any other book written by Tracy Leininger as she is a talented author and wonderful story teller. If the movie is half as good as the book it will be a hit. I plan to see it when it comes to theaters in June.
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The Sparkle Egg – Review

Aside from Christmas, my favorite holiday is Easter. I love the egg hunts, coloring eggs, and the baskets full of candy. While our family enjoys all of the fun we make sure to remember the true story of Easter. I recently received an adorable new book to review, The Sparkle Egg. It is geared for kids ages 4-8, but I feel older children will enjoy it too. The book claims to be “A Symbol of the True Promise of Easter” and I feel it lives up to the claim.

The Sparkle Egg - A wonderful kids book about the promise of Easter.


About The Sparkle Egg 

Easter is coming, and Sam loves Easter! But this year, he is upset about a lie he told his parents. Even though he apologized and they forgave him, Sam can’t shake the feeling that he is a bad kid for what he did. Meanwhile, his parents help him make a special Easter craft called a Sparkle Egg. His mom tells him to write anything he feels sorry about or ashamed of on a piece of paper and put it inside his Sparkle Egg.
On Easter morning, when he opens his Sparkle Egg expecting a surprise, Sam finds that it is empty! His parents explain that because Jesus died and rose again, we are forgiven. Like the tomb that first Easter Day, Sam’s egg is empty—and Sam’s wrongdoing is completely forgiven. Once he accepts this forgiveness fully, Sam realizes a truth: we can sparkle and shine with God’s light when we let God’s gift of grace into our hearts. This touching story will strike a deep chord with readers of all ages, and the Sparkle Egg tradition will help readers and their
families grasp the totality of God’s perfect grace
The Sparkle egg is 32 page a hardcover book with jacket. It was written by Jill Hardie and Illustrated by Christine Kornacki. The book has a suggested retail price of $16.99 and is available at Ideals Books.

About the Author 
Jill Hardie’s first book, The Sparkle Box, ignited a new Christmas tradition that helps center Christmas in the true joy of the season. Now Jill is hoping to touch lives with a new Easter tradition with The Sparkle Egg. She lives in North Canton, Ohio.

About the Illustrator
Christine Kornacki illustrated the highly acclaimed The Sparkle Box. She has a love for painting and a knack for bringing stories to life. Christine received a BFA in illustration from the University of Hartford and spends most days painting in her studio, which adjoins a charming café in New Haven, Connecticut.
What did we think?

I enjoyed the story and loved the message behind the book. It has a strong moral tone and helps you to remember the true reason for Easter. As I was reading it with my 10 year old she was excited and couldn’t wait to get to the end of the book, she wanted to know what was going to be inside the sparkle egg. She loved the story and pictures. We have been having a little problem with lying around here and I believe the story made her really think. She now wants to make a sparkle egg for Easter and I think we may have a new family tradition.

When I first read the book I could not take my eyes off of the breathtaking pictures throughout the book. They are so vibrant and full of life that it is hard to believe they are not actual photographs. The amount of detail in each picture is amazing and really helps to bring the story to life. I really enjoyed the fact that depending on the colors of the picture the text was either black or white making the book extremely easy to read.

Overall I found it to be a well written family friendly book with a great message. If you are looking for a great new family tradition this may be the book for you!

Asia its People and History Review

Post Contains Affiliate Links Is Asia a mystery to your kids? When I think of Asia I think of the the well known countries like China, Japan, and North and South Korea. When studying history we normally take a unit study approach, so AJ has learned a little bit about China and Japan, but she hasn’t studied too many other Asian countries. She is a hands on learner who doesn’t like your normal dry boring history books. I am always looking for ways to make history come alive.
Book Cover of Asia its People ans History

We were given the opportunity to review a new book, Asia its People and History written by Bonnie Rose Hudson.

Photo of Author

We reviewed the downloadable version of the book which is available here in e-book format or here for the paperback version. The book is a 16 week homeschool history and geography book that is meant to introduce you and your child to the people of Asia. It is geared for kids 8-12. (although I feel older students would enjoy it as well) Throughout the book you visit 6 different countries; Laos, Bangladesh, Nepal, China, Iran, and Vietnam. You learn about the country’s geography, a little history, how to pray for the people, and what life is like for Christians who live there. While the course is meant to last 16 weeks it can easily be adapted to fit the needs of your family by speeding up or slowing down as needed.

The layout for each country is a little different. Each country starts with a story about a young person living in the country. Then you learn about the geography of the country, a brief history, what life is like for Christians, and the people that live in the country. At the end of each story there discussion questions that are thought provoking. There are different activities to complete as well. AJ found them to be fun and enjoyable while I found them easy to complete and enjoyed the fact that there was little to no preparation needed from me. Some activities included cooking, puzzles, writing a letter, and a matching game. AJ’s favorite was the Bangladesh Animal Safari Game.

One thing you would see a lot of around Bangladesh is animals.

This book was very eye opening for both  AJ and myself, she couldn’t believe that people would be so mean and hateful just because someone believed in Jesus. Asia its People and History is full of stories that make you think. Sometimes they make you cry and other times they make you reevaluate your own life, problems, and relationship with God.  This book doesn’t sugar coat the bad things that happen throughout the history of the countries, or what it is like for Christians today, but it is written in a way that spares a lot of details. It gives a very human look at history by not just listing facts, but telling the story of children who are living in those countries . AJ enjoyed this book and learned valuable information that we other wise may not have learned about.

I would recommend this book to any homeschool, Sunday School, or co-op. The lessons are short and sweet but full of useful information. I honestly couldn’t find anything that I did not like about this book. It didn’t require a lot of writing (which is a huge plus in this house) and the lessons were very engaging.

E-book available now, printed version coming soon



Weeding out the Wheat – Review

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There are so many diet fads out there and it seems as if every month week the media is changing its mind as to what foods are considered healthy and what foods to avoid. I had been hearing so many people were going “gluten free” and like most of you I kept seeing gluten free options available from restaurants to supermarkets. I honestly thought it was just another diet trend and when I first saw the opportunity to review the book written by Luke and Trisha Gilkerson I decided I would pass. Then while I was talking with my mom, who is diabetic, about the book that I decided not to review, it got me thinking. The authors had made some very bold statements about wheat and since all I had to do was read the book, not actually go wheat free I decided to go ahead and read the book. Unlike most things that I review, I went into this review quite skeptical. I mean it is wheat, something people have been eating since the beginning of time, so how could it be that bad?
If any of that sounds familiar to you, then you need to read this book! While my family has not decided as of now to give up wheat, this book has been eye-opening and made us more knowledgeable about not only wheat but food in general.
Weeding out the Wheat is a Simple, Scientific, Faith-Based guide that talks about why the wheat of today is so bad for you. Here is a video that gives just a glimpse about the book.
The book is divided into three main sections.
  1. Wheat Gone Wild:  Understanding Wheat’s Connection to Deteriorating Health. This section is filled with information on why wheat is bad. It talks about how wheat in ancient times was actually different from the wheat we eat today and so much more. While there are a lot of facts presented, it is an easy and enjoyable read.
  2. Is wheat-free biblical? Reconciling a Wheat-Free Diet with a Bread-Filled Faith. I had honestly never thought of the Bible as a reason why to eat wheat. I just ate whatever I wanted, but after reading this section I can see how some people would feel that since bread represents Jesus’s body in communion that they may feel the need to eat wheat to remain spiritually close to God. I found this section to be very well written and full of good examples on why being wheat free is okay.
  3. Moving Forward: Making the Wheat-free Transition. The first thing I said before I read this book was, “What will I be able to eat?” Since I am allergic to corn, I eat a lot of rice and wheat. This part of the book helps you to understand how you can be wheat free. This is the part of the book was where I originally felt it was lacking a little bit, but after receiving feedback about the book the authors added more information to it and it is now full of wonderful information.
I found that I learned so much from this book. I think the best part is that Luke and Trisha acknowledge in the book that going wheat free is not for everyone. This is one of my favorite quotes:

“We’re not here to tell you that giving up wheat will be the panacea for all of your woes.  “

Overall I really enjoyed this book and I am very glad that I ended up taking the opportunity to review it. If you have been thinking about going wheat free, or if you want to learn more about it, I would highly recommend this book.  It is available from Amazon. Currently the soft cover book is $14.95and the Kindle version is $9.95.

Find out what other reviewers thought about the book by clicking on the graphic below.

http://www.bowofbronze.com/2013/12/30/weeding-wheat-luke-trisha-gilkerson-read-reviews/

How Do We Know God is Really There? – Review

We can’t see God so how can we know he exists. To me the easy answer would be faith, but sometimes that is a hard concept for adults let alone kids. I was recently given the opportunity to review the book How Do We Know God is Really There written by Melissa Cain Travis, illustrated by Christopher Voss, and published by Apologia. (The same company who publishes those great planners I reviewed).

A little about the book:

This book is the story of a little boy Thomas and his dad. After looking at the night sky Thomas begins to talk to his dad about God and how a friend told him that there is no proof that God is real. The book goes on with Thomas’s dad asking questions which leads to Thomas understanding that there is a God.

It is a 24 page hard cover book with a lot of illustrations. Every other page is full of vibrant colored pictures. Aside from the funny looking people, my little one enjoyed the pictures. It is available Here for $16.

I really liked how the book is written in a kid friendly tone. It does not come right out and preach at you but lets the child think for themselves and uses the science of Edwin Hubble to explain that God is real.
I read the book by myself the first time because I was not sure what to expect, but I felt that it explained things clearly and then began to read it to my 10 year old. She didn’t seem too interested so I waited a few days. The second time I read it to her she liked it but became very defensive telling me that, “Thomas’s friends are just crazy because there is a God and he did create the earth.” This book definitely brought about a good conversation. I was glad to be given the opportunity to review it.

 

The story is great the quality of the book however is another story. We have read through the book about 5 times and the pages already have small holes near the center. There are strings from the binding sticking out, and the picture is tearing off of the middle from the pages sticking together. Overall the copy that I received seems to have been put together poorly.



These are some of the holes.

I am a little mixed on if I would recommend this book or not. The story is wonderful and I feel it will bring great conversation, but the quality of the book is poor.

This is the strings coming out of the book.
 


Spanish for You! – Review

 

Living in California, there is a great need to be fluent in Spanish. Spanish is everywhere and my little one has picked up a lot of words and phrases, but she needs more. For the last two years she was taking a Spanish course at school and while it was great for vocabulary, that was about all that it taught. Now that we are traditionally home schooling I have been searching for a good Spanish program that teaches more than just vocabulary. I wanted a program that was not all on the computer and one that taught conjugating verbs. I found a few programs that fit my specifics, but they had very high price tags. Then I was given the opportunity to review Spanish for You.  It seemed to meet all of my needs so I was very excited to try it.

Spanish for You is a Spanish program designed for kids in grades 3 – 8. It comes with a soft cover book, downloadable worksheets, downloadable flash card pictures, lesson guides, and MP3 downloads that have the author reading the pages in the book and a native Spanish speaker reading as well. It also includes downloadable self checking worksheets.

There are three different themed books; Fiestas (celebrations), Estaciones (seasons), and Viajes (travel). At the time of this review Viajes is not quite finished and will be available soon. The books can be used in any order as they are not leveled. The interesting part of this program is that the same book can be used for your child in third grade and your child in eighth grade. There are lesson guides to use for grades 3/4, 5/6, and 7/8. While your students in different grades will be learning the same things, there are worksheets available that will be at each ones grade level. I only have one child and we used the 3/4 lesson guides but I did look at the higher level worksheets and they looked grade level appropriate.

I was given Estaciones to review. It contains 5 lessons; The Calendar and Weather, Fall and School, Winter, Spring, and Summer. Each lesson covers new vocabulary, verbs and how to conjugate them, and grammar. Each lesson takes about four to six weeks to complete depending on the child and the pace you take. The lessons are short and to the point following a four day a week schedule.




I have to say that I really like this program and so does my nine year old. She actually asks to do Spanish now. I like the fact that while there are some worksheets to complete there is not an abundance of writing. A lot of the work has to do with memorizing the vocabulary and there are quite a few fun games suggested in the book to practice the vocabulary. I think my favorite part of the program is that they are learning the Spanish language not just select vocabulary. On the second week they are already learning how and why to conjugate verbs.


  My little one is learning things that I didn’t learn until high school Spanish, but the learning is being done in a way that is easy for me to teach and for her to learn. Each page in the book is read by the author as well as by a native Spanish speaker so that there is no confusion on pronunciation. I liked having the opportunity to listen to both recordings of the book because I felt that it gave a solid understanding of the pronunciation of words.

There is not much prep time needed to use the program. Each week I printed the lesson guide, printed any worksheets that needed to be printed and found which audio files we would need. I would say it took less than ten minutes to prep for the week and I found the program self explanatory and easy to use.



The program has a few different pricing options shown here. The entire program for a single grade level (3/4, 5/6, or 7/8) is only $39.95 while the entire program with all grade level lesson guides is only $64.95. I feel this product is definitely worth the price. It is a solid Spanish curriculum that I think most anyone would benefit from. I feel it would also be great for those older than eighth grade who were looking for a way to learn Spanish that wouldn’t break the bank.

There was only one small thing that I wish was different when it came to this Spanish program. I wish that there was an option to purchase the audio downloads on a CD and the workbook pages in a workbook so that they didn’t have to be printed. I understand that it would cause the price to increase, but I personally prefer to buy real books and not print page by page. There was not a lot to print, but if that option was available I would definitely choose it when I purchase our next set.

This program has been great and we will continue to use it next year when we start school again in the fall. I feel that this review came at the perfect time as I no longer need to search for the perfect Spanish program, for us this is it.