Homeschooling, How To, Uncategorized

Where to Buy Used Homeschool Curriculum

Where to Buy and Sell Used Homeschool Curriculum

Wondering where to buy inexpensive homeschool curriculum? Trying to figure out the best places to shop online for used homeschool books? Here’s the ultimate resource: a list of my favorite places to buy — and sell! — used curriculum and books. Let’s start with the websites.

Best Websites to Buy / Sell Used Homeschool Curriculum

Homeschool Classifieds

Homeschool Classifieds has been around for a long time. If you don’t mind having to scroll through long text lists (and then emailing the seller to see if the item is still available) you can often find things not easily found elsewhere. I’ve made many purchases through this venue; just ask lots of questions and ask for pictures of the item before you send money (always use Goods & Services, not Friends & Family, on PayPal).

eBay

My best tip? Look for buyers with 100% positive feedback — or even better, a “Top Rated Plus” insignia next to their username.  And if anything in the listing or the condition of the item seems unclear, send a message to the buyer and ask before you bid. If you’re auction-averse (I am), then just browse the Buy-it-Now listings.

Karen’s Kurriculum Korner

Karen has a physical store in Kentucky, but she also sells on Homeschool Classifieds, and often lists item on the Kurriculum Korner page on Facebook, too. If you need something specific, email her! I’ve purchased from her several times, and have had great experiences each time. (Unlike Homeschool Classifieds and eBay, of course, this isn’t a channel for you to sell your used books.)

Best Websites to Buy Cheap Used Books

Thrift Books

I feel like Thrift Books is one of the best kept secrets, but maybe it will be more well known now that half.com has met its demise. Most titles at Thrift Books are under $4, and for each order, there’s free shipping once you spend $10. What’s not to love? You’ll probably need another bookshelf soon anyway.

[Disclosure: The link above for Thrift Books is a referral link. No other links in this post are referral or affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase from Thrift Books, you’ll receive a  coupon for 15% off your first purchase, and I’ll receive a coupon for 20% off. I will receive no other compensation or product. As always, I’ll only recommend products or services I personally use and love, and I’ll always disclose such links.]

Best Facebook Groups  to Buy/Sell Used General Homeschool Curriculum

The vast majority of what’s in our bookshelves has been purchased either at thrift stores (more about that later), or in one of the many sale groups on Facebook.

Note that these closed groups are not the same as Marketplace! Marketplace on Facebook offers a framework, like Craigslist, for anyone to post an item for sale. Facebook Groups, on the other hand, are dedicated communities centered around a common interest — in this case, the buying and selling of specific categories of books. Facebook sale groups are super convenient, and I especially love how easy it is to ask questions or find out more about the condition/content of the items for sale.

What sale groups should you join? That depends what you wish to buy or sell. There are some broad groups for used homeschool curriculum in general, and other more specialized ones focused on particular publishers. Each group has different set of moderators and a different set of rules, so you’ll need to read those before you start buying or selling in that group. (These rules are typically in a pinned post or in the group’s description area, and often you won’t be able to see them until you’ve been admitted or approved as a member.)

Let’s start with the general groups designed for all types of used homeschool curriculum.

Homeschool Curriculum Marketplace

This is by far the largest homeschool Facebook sale group I’ve encountered. There are nearly ~60K members at the time of this posting! Be sure to read the rules carefully. To maintain the group at such a large size, the Homeschool Curriculum Marketplace moderators are very strict.

Homeschool Curriculum Sell / Exchange

With over ~26K members, the Homeschool Curriculum Sell/Exchange is great for shopping and selling alike.

Homeschooler Market- Buy, Sell & Trade

A very active group of ~20K members. I’ve had excellent experiences with Homeschooler Market- Buy, Sell & Trade. (This one might actually be my favorite of all the general groups.)

Homeschool Buy Sell Trade

The Homeschool Buy Sell Trade group (~17K) has rather particular guidelines, so be sure to read the rules.

Homeschool Used Curriculum Swap

I really enjoy browsing Homeschool Used Curriculum Swap. It’s  a wonderfully active group of ~12K.

Used Homeschool Books, Buy, Sell, Trade

The guidelines of Used Homeschool Books, Buy, Sell, Trade  (~8K) prohibit sale of entertainment books, allowing curriculum and educational books only. Your interpretation may vary.

Best Facebook Groups  to Buy/Sell Used Classical Homeschool Curriculum

If you’re looking for curriculum that’s more specialized or from a specific publisher, it makes sense to use one of the more niche groups, rather than sorting through hundreds of entries.  Here a few of the groups dedicated to classical curriculum.

Veritas Press Used Curriculum Buy / Sell / Trade

This is a newer group (disclosure: I admin this one) but it’s a great place if you’re looking for Veritas Press materials. If you’re looking for discussion, then you’ll want to head over to Veritas Press Homeschoolers, which I also admin.

Memoria Press Buy/Sell/Swap, Review & Discuss

If you use any Memoria Press curriculum, this group is a great resource, because it’s one of the few groups which also allows shopping and discussion in the same forum.

Classical Conversations Used Materials Buy/Sell/Trade/Share (and) Classical Conversation Exchange

Each of these two different groups is about the same size (~12K members). While both are centered around Classical Conversations resale,  people do freely buy and sell other non-CC curriculum, too. I would say the Exchange group has more of these non-CC items, which makes it a great resource even if you’re not a Classical Conversations family.

Well Trained Mind Curriculum Buy/Sell/Trade

This sale group is intended for reselling any of the many different curriculums recommended in Susan Wise Bauer’s The Well-Trained Mind. It’s a wonderful shopping spot for all things classical.

Tapestry of Grace Homeschooling Books and Used Curriculum

This group is moderated by Tapestry of Grace itself, and is fairly small (under 1K).

Tapestry of Grace Homeschooling books, Seek/Sell/Swap Spot

A bit larger (just over ~1K), this one, like the other Tapestry group, has a wealth of wonderful books, even if you’re not a TOG user. In fact, it really could have been listed under the next category, too — literature-based curriculum.

Best Facebook Groups  to Buy/Sell Used Literature-Based Homeschool Curriculum

Sonlight Homeschool Curriculum USED books Sell/Swap/Share

This is the larger of the two Sonlight sale groups, and has everything from individual readers to entire grade-sets, or cores.

Sonlight Homeschool Moms Swap & Shop

Newer than the above group, this sale community is moderated by the same team who run the Sonlight Homeschool Moms discussion group.

MFW, BP, MOH, SL, SOTW (Literature Based Curriculum)Buy/Sell/Trade

That’s a lot of acronyms! Let’s see…My Father’s World, Beautiful Feet, Mystery of History, Sonlight, Story of the World…phew! Note also, this one has very particular moderator guidelines for how to list items, so if you’re planning on selling, be sure to read the pinned post / group description first.

Charlotte Mason/Ambleside/ Living Books/USED materials for sale/share/swap

This is a wonderful resource for used Charlotte Mason curriculum. A nice-sized group, at ~8K members, it has lots of especially beautiful vintage books for sale.

But what if you’re just not into buying books online?

Best Ways to Find Local Used Homeschool Curriculum Sales

If you want to skip online buying / selling altogether, you have several options. The best sales are, in my experience, generally held in April, May and June. Any earlier or much later, and you won’t have as much luck. Keep those dates in mind when inquiring about local sales, too.

Used Book Sales at State Homeschool Conventions

Many homeschool conferences coordinate a huge annual consignment sale, often just for one night right before the conference begins. Check with your local organizations to see what’s available in your area.

Used Curriculum Sales Hosted by Local Homeschool Groups

In the early spring, I’ll sometimes email the largest area local homeschool groups in the, to ask if they’ll be hosting a sale. I’ve gotten some of my best deals at these small local sales.

Second-hand / Thrift Stores

When it comes to the book sections of thrift stores, they’re not all created equal. And time of year matters, too. I’ve found almost no homeschool curriculum locally, but when I visit my parents and browse second-hand stores there, I need  a second suitcase to  haul all my goodies home.

Location-Specific Used Homeschool Curriculum Groups on Facebook

Beyond the general “online garage sale” pages for your local area, do some searching within Facebook to see if there’s a used homeschool curriculum group specifically for your region (Orlando, for example, has several!) These can be terrific, because you can often arrange meet-ups to swap money/books, and save money on shipping.

And a bonus, because I am asked this next question all the time —

Where is the best place to buy Singapore Math books?

I’ve snagged some great deals in the general curriculum sale groups, but that does require time, since used Singapore Math books go very quickly.  eBay is sometimes an option, but since Singapore materials also holds its value so well, eBay prices aren’t really that much less than new. I often purchase new from the Singapore Math website. My top tip? Check the Singapore Math Bargain Corner. Several times, the item I was seeking was listed at a discount due to minor aesthetic damage. (And let’s be real, it would be aesthetically flawed after a week in our house, anyway. (Read more about why Singapore Math works best for us.)

What about you?  How do you keep your bookshelves filled?

Did I miss your favorite place to buy used homeschool books, or leave out a Facebook group you admin? Add a note in the comments, and I’ll add it to the appropriate category above.

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Homeschooling, How To

How to Study Art History with Kids: FREE Printable

Figuring out how to study art with kids doesn’t have to be complicated. This free, no-strings-attached printable provides art history discussion prompts you can use with any piece of art you encounter in your homeschool studies.

How to Study Art History with Kids: FREE Printable from the Oaxacaborn blog

This post contains affiliate links.

Art is important, especially in a classical education dedicated to the pursuit of truth, beauty, and goodness.  “An art work can be a doxology in itself”, penned Francis Schaeffer — and he’s right, of course.  But since art elicits such a subjective emotional response, it can often be hard for kids to move past the initial  “I like it” / “I don’t like it” reactions when they’re introduced to  a new work of art.   This printable list of questions will give you, as the parent instructor, concrete ways to guide conversation and provoke discussion about the art you’re studying, regardless of whether you adore or dislike the artwork at hand.

Download the FREE “How to Study Art” printable here.

Want a little more insight into how this discussion template works? I developed it to use in my art history class at our local co-op, with students from grades two through five. Naturally, these discussions function best if you have access to some background information about the art you’re studying, so you can accurately answer inquiries or direct additional independent research. You’ll probably want a book, like the approachable 13 Paintings Children Should Know (that’s one painting each month for just over a year!) or the Usborne Children’s Book of Art, but you can use digital images from the internet, too. As I’ve used this method, here’s what I’ve found. To begin, the four anchors of this approach are as follows —

  • Be curious
  • Be a detective
  • Be a thoughtful
  • Be creative

So let’s start at the beginning, with curiosity.

Be curious.

In the pursuit of any topic, but especially art history, curiosity is key. Curiosity can lead us beyond the surface into a vast, hidden world of previously-undiscovered stories surrounding the art, artist, historical period, and genre.

Ask: “What does this work show you?”

When introducing a work of art for the first time, I like to ask kids, “What does this work show you?” Depending on the age of the students, answers to this question will be either extremely literal (“it shows me a person”) or more abstract (“it shows me how hard life was in this era”.) Neither type of answer is incorrect, and any response can be used as a springboard for further discussion.

Ask: “Why did the artist create this work?”

Sometimes we’ll be able to uncover the answer to this question (“this portrait was commissioned by the king”), while other times, the reason behind the work’s creation remains a mystery.  As the instructor, you’ll want to guide this discussion. It’s is a great time to fill in the details about the artist’s life, and provide a sense of historical context.

Be a detective.

Essentially any work of art presents a bit of a mystery, and kids love to act as detectives.

Ask: “What hidden secrets can you find?”

This prompt encourages close observation of the work at hand, inviting kids to take in all the little details — figures hidden in shadows, small inscriptions on books or boxes, delicate brushstrokes indicating texture, and subtle expressions. In my experience, kids love this step, and don’t even realize how closely they’re studying art.

Ask: “What colors do you see?”

This is another favorite! Often, I make this an interactive question, by pulling out a large set of oil pastels, and ask the students to set aside every color they can find in the painting.

Be thoughtful.

At this point in the art discussion, students have gathered — through their own answers and through your direction toward truth — a great deal of information about the featured artwork.

Ask: “How does the work make you feel?”

Sometimes, the artist created the work specifically to elicit a certain response in the viewer, or to convey a specific message. Other times, the art is free to be interpreted any way at all. Regardless, answers to this question will vary more widely than those to any other discussion topic so far.

Ask: “How might the artist have felt when creating it?”

We won’t always know the answer to this, but historical and autobiographical information — and the contrast between the work at hand and the artist’s other pieces — can give us clues. Encourage children to use this type of information to support their answers.

Be creative.

In my art history classes, every discussion about art ends with some sort of hands-on project. While it isn’t always possible to transform inspiration into a tangible application — or do every project a student wants to undertake — discussing the link between art which already exists and the creation of new art is important.

Ask: “How does this work inspire you?”

While this question seems similar to “How does the work make you feel?”, you might notice the answers will probably be more centered around action, and creation, rather than emotions.

Ask: “What does it make you want to create?””

I love this question, because the answers are as unique as the individuals themselves.  Just as a lover of words may be called to sit down and write, while one who loves the outdoors might be drawn to create a new path through a rugged wilderness, art will speak to each person in a different way. An architect may be inspired to create a building; a chef, a mouth-watering meal. The answers to this question can, but don’t necessarily need to, involve the creation of art in the traditional sense — so don’t be surprised when kids answer this question in ways you didn’t expect.

Introducing the study of art history isn’t an intimidating endeavor. You don’t need any special qualifications, or even any artistic ability. All you need is a love of beauty, a sense of curiosity, and either one really good art book or a collection of digital images (the National Gallery of Art collections are immense, and many of the image pages include background information, too).

Begin your study of art today. Download the FREE “How to Study Art” printable here.

P.S. Want more resources ideal for homeschool co-ops? Join my closed Facebook group, Homeschool Co-op Teachers, an online community of like-minded parent-teachers.

If you found this helpful, why not pin it?


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some links above are “affiliate links” provided in conjunction with my participation in Amazon.com’s Associates Program. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission [a small amount of money]. Please be assured, I only recommend products or services I use personally, and I will always disclose any such links. 

Homeschooling, How To

Gifted Classical-Leaning Homeschool Curriculum Choices (2nd Grade)

Our favorite educational resources and homeschool curriculum for homeschooling a neurologically gifted child, blending a literature-based approach and classical education with an emphasis on science.Gifted Classical-Leaning Second Grade Curriculum 2017-2018 by Gina @ Oaxacaborn

I’ll just get it out in the open right away: my daughter eats curriculum for breakfast.  She’s gifted, and I mean that as a neurological identifier to explain why we have such a crazy life, not as a bragging right. Since the age of two, she’s been on a mission to flatten forests. (Don’t fret. Trees, lumber, paper, and all the various related accouterments, are a renewable resource.)

Here’s the thing. If I had held rigidly to the no formal education before age seven doctrine, I’d probably already be in a padded room. Remember, I wasn’t planning on being a hyper-caffeinated homeschooler. I was planning on having a normal (read: typical) child, play with her until she was five, enroll her in a nice neighborhood school, then drive a few blocks away to a coffee house and write a book while someone else taught her to read.

Academically gifted children often crave formal instruction earlier than “recommended”

This post contains affiliate links.

When my intense toddler turned two, she made it a habit to walk into my bedroom each morning — she’d learned to flop out of cribs and playpens early on — wielding a very large, very heavy, over-sized copy of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. She’d thump me on the head with the book, screeching, “More letters, p’ease! Learn letters, p’ease! Learn letters! Write letters! Write!”

And then she turned three, and one day blurted out, “I’m done wiff my toys now. P’ease do a maff [math] book? P’ease, do maff?” [Spoiler alert: yes, she still has toys and a very large collection of maff books.]

When she turned four, she invited me into her room for a bedtime story. She deftly flipped to the appendix of a microscope encyclopedia, fluently read aloud the best practices for preparing a slide, then discussed it all with me.

It was around that time, after touring pre-kindergarten classrooms with her — and having teachers pull me aside and whisper that it didn’t seem like a good fit — I began to reconsider homeschooling. It was becoming more and more apparent that our daughter was not going to easily fit into the sequence of education offered by the traditional school model (and more and more apparent I wasn’t going to be spending any unfettered writerly mornings in a cafe.)

It was also around this time my mom laughed. She reminded me I’d read at age three, and she was hassled for letting me be “too academic”, too.

So, please understand. My daughter was fearfully and wonderfully made by the hands of God, custom-made to His exact specifications. And this crazy life of mine that’s followed? It’s a gift, too. People always ask, “What did you do to get her to be like this?” (as if this particular flavor was something you can find on Amazon Prime.) And I always answer, “She came to me this way.”

Formal lessons and free play are not mutually exclusive

If our experience doesn’t resonate with you, that’s absolutely fine. Our family’s experience is not the norm — but I also know our family is not alone. I know there are some of you reading this right now saying, “Yes, yes!”

Some of you have felt like outsiders. Some of you have been criticized for hot-housing or pushing, simply because you have given your child the information they’ve asked for. But responding to a child’s clear signals of readiness is not the same as pushing formal academics on a child who is not ready.

And responding to a gifted child’s quest for knowledge does not mean banning child-led play. Structured academics and child-directed exploration are not mutually exclusive. Can we just pause here for a moment and let that sink in? Formal lessons and free play are not mutually exclusive.

Gifted Classical-Leaning Homeschool Curriculum Choices for 2nd Grade (2017-2018) by Gina @ Oaxacaborn

When I responded to my then-two-year-old’s begging for “More letters, p’ease” by teaching her what she so eagerly wanted to know, that does not mean she never played. She spent hours and hours each day sculpting playdough, smearing glue sticks over stacks of construction paper, singing happily, breaking crayons coloring, finger painting, banging pots and pans together, tasting sand playing at the beach, building with blocks, and climbing playground equipment (although, I did inadvertently make myself a playground pariah when I let her climb up the slide.)

My point is, it’s a logical fallacy to assume any sort of formal lessons automatically preempts play. It is entirely possible to meet a young gifted child’s academic needs and play needs. You do not need to choose one or the other.

Curriculum choices and educational resources for teaching a gifted child

This list of second-grade curriculum is just that, a list of curriculum. It doesn’t show the hours my daughter spends creating elaborate imaginative worlds out of LEGO bricks. It doesn’t show the time she spends singing songs at the top of her lungs, dressed in inside-out clothes. (“Mom, the tag said, “Turn garment inside out”.) It doesn’t show the gales of laughter tumbling down the trampoline track with her friends, or anything else that isn’t, well, that isn’t a list of curriculum.

It does reflect how intense, how voracious, how completely insatiable this girl is in her quest to be constantly, actively, bookishly learning. When we have gloriously exploratory days, where she pokes anthills and tumbles in the grass and reads a stack of non-fiction and plays puzzles and does experiments and wires Snap Circuits and goes to the library and helps me cook, she laments, begging to pull out the school books. (Yes, I have a weird life.) So, I’m not saying your second grade needs to look like this.

But, if you are curious about what curriculum makes a very quirky six-and-a-half-year-old girl squeal with delight? I can show you what that looks like.

Reading

We’ve already gone through the Sonlight Readers for kindergarten, first, second and third grade, so this year,  Aveline’s diving into the fourth grade set of Sonlight readers. I love how the corresponding Readers Schedule / Study Guide incorporates mapping as well as comprehension questions, although I don’t do all the Q+A sessions. I do a spot check maybe once a week or so, flipping open the study guide and asking a handful of questions at random. If she tells me about the book during the week (she’s a talker), then I don’t even do the spot check — but we always stop to check the location, and add a map pin to our huge wall map.

And independent reading? It never stops. We have thirty to seventy books in our library baskets at any given time. And when she asks if she can do a book report (yes, she is for real) then I photocopy a template from Evan-Moor’s How to Report on Books, Grade 2.

Literature

I couldn’t help add in some comprehension guides, especially after Aveline’s eyes lit up like Starry Night when she saw the rack of them at the Veritas Press booth at a recent conference. The questions are terrific, and the included activities and paper crafts are delightful! We’re using the Milly-Molly-Mandy guide and the  Baby Island guide (both for second grade), the third grade guide for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and an anthology guide called More Favorites, which covers books like Sarah, Plain and Tall; Hundred Dresses, and more. I love how introducing comprehension guides at a young age eases kids into the critical thinking skills so necessary in a classical education — and in life!

I am also outsourcing a little more of close reading (analysis, making inferences, and more) to the amazing director of our local co-op. Aveline will be working through an abbreviated version of Rooted in Reading (Grade 3) with her class there.

Read-Alouds

We’re following Sonlight’s Level C schedule for read-alouds, which means we’ll be covering everything from The Penderwicks to The Aesop for Children to Red Sails to CapriOur cozy read-aloud time tends to be in the afternoon, after lunch (hurricane season lasts until December begins, so our autumns are full of grey afternoons, darkened by monsoon rains.)

Poetry

Combining the recommendations of Sonlight and Veritas Press, respectively, we’re enjoying the contrast between the laugh-out-loud funny Cornstalks and the more traditional Favorite Poems. And because Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland / Through the Looking Glass features heavily in our year, there’s been a lot of Jabberwocky, too. ‘Twas brillig!

Writing

I’m so excited to begin our journey with IEW! I’ve seen Andrew Pudewa speak a couple of times now, and I was really impressed with the logical, straight-forward (but not formulaic!) way IEW approaches writing. Knowing how to write is one thing; knowing how to teach writing is another matter entirely. I think many writing programs making the mistake of breaking up the ebb and flow of writing into a series of formulas, resulting in stilted, robotic writing. IEW, on the other hand, gives students a set of tools to use in the art of writing. So far, Aveline is enjoying it tremendously.

Grammar

Of course, no writer’s toolkit is complete without a good handle on the structure of language. Last year, following the Veritas Press catalog recommendations, we completed the first level of Shurley English. This is such a tremendously effective method; I highly recommend it! It’s also a very repetitive program, so we’re jumping right to Shurley English, Level 3 this year.

As I do in many repetitive subjects, I’ll be condensing the lessons to allow Aveline to move forward to the next concept as soon as she masters it, rather than making her go through all the exercises. I’ll also be skipping the writing instruction, since we’re using IEW for that. Even with all those modifications, I still highly recommend the program (and if your child  thrives on repetition, not as much modification will be needed, anyway).

With the rapid mastery and with telescoping the curriculum, we’ll probably finish quite a bit before the school year ends. I have First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, Level 3 (plus student book) waiting in the wings, so we can move right into that, and get started with diagramming.

How does Aveline feel about learning grammar? Well, here’s an actual conversation —

ME: Tell Papa what subject you started today, Aveline.
AVELINE: Grammar!
ME: And why did you start learning that?
AVELINE: To relax, probably?

Handwriting / Cursive

We used Handwriting Without Tears last year to teach cursive, after years (yes, years) of Aveline asking to “learn how to write with loops”. A font nerd after my own heart, she’s now also asked to learn some different methods of cursive. So, yes, in case you’re wondering, Classically Cursive and Handwriting without Tears do use two different forms of lettering.

Why Logos School’s Classically Cursive and not another method? I love how the series (there are four books) incorporates the Westminster Shorter Catechism!

Chinese

In addition to the First 100 Chinese Characters writing practice book, Aveline will also be doing Chinese character practice in her Chinese school weekend classes (they use the MeiZhou Chinese curriculum. ) The bulk of her instruction will come from Chinese school — this is her fourth year there —  but we also supplement with Chinese kids’ songs, kids’ TV shows translated into Chinese, character flashcards, and, soon, beginning readers in Chinese, too. Read more about how we teach Chinese at home, or follow my Mandarin for Kids Pinterest board.

Vocabulary

Since last year’s Chinese class focused so much on Chinese phonics (using pinyin, which is a method of transliterating Chinese sounds using our Roman alphabet), I took a very hands-off approach to English spelling at home. One of Aveline’s big requests this year was to learn how to spell “really big words by heart”. I knew a repetitive beginning spelling program wasn’t going to cut it. After meeting Claire Jane Beck at the FPEA Special Learners Conference last fall, I picked up her Vocabulary Explosion: Greek / Latin Etymologies for grade two. It’s a very straightforward approach — one prefix or suffix and five related words are introduced each week, and the student learns to use the words in context. The spelling learning really happens behind the scenes. It’s a huge, huge hit around here; and, along with cursive, Chinese characters, and Bible, is part of our daily seatwork routine.

Gifted Classical-Leaning Homeschool Curriculum Choices for 2nd Grade (2017-2018) by Gina @ Oaxacaborn

Math

This is one of our very favorite subjects. Choosing math curriculum was a no-brainer (read more about why Singapore Math works best for us). This year, we have levels 3A and 3B on the docket, although I have the sneaking suspicion we will need to break out 4A before next summer arrives.

With DragonBox Algebra 5+ behind us, Aveline alternates between Dragonbox Algebra 12+ and Dragonbox Elements (geometry) for math enrichment. And we picked up the Multiplication and Division editions of Classical Math to Classical Music at the Veritas Press booth at the FPEA Convention this year, too.

And, oh yes, how could I forget? Dozens upon dozens of living books about math.

Science

We’re working — rapidly! — through Sonlight’s Science C, and continuing through the Apologia Chemistry/Physics book we started last year. Since Science C is going by so quickly for us, and since we’re already half-done with the Apologia, I might end up pulling down the AIG (Answers in Genesis)  Human Body set and using that for the second semester.

Chemistry and anatomy are two of Aveline’s big obsessions, so I do as much as I can to nurture her interest in those areas.  For “fun”, she’ll often request to listen to the human body songs from Lyrical Life Science, or pull out the anatomy coloring book. The beloved Elements book is a favorite free-read, and our shelves and library bags are overflowing with nonfiction math and science books.

Last year, Aveline read Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Astronomy in her free time, and since we live about 50 miles (as the crow flies) from Space Coast,  we keep tabs on NASA, too. If there’s a launch, we’ll watch the first few seconds on the NASA or SpaceX livestream, and then run outside to see it in the sky.

We rotate through science resources pretty often, so I might come back and update this section a little further into the school year.

Bible / Theology

I find it a little challenging to find a really solid Bible course. One resource I absolutely love, though, is Songs for Saplings  — scripture and doctrinal truths set to song. They’re loosely based on the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and are free to stream or download from a number of sources.  I also really love  The Children’s Illustrated Bible, which I discovered through Veritas Press.  It has such excellent archaeological and historical sidebars which really put the Bible in context. So I made my own 180-Day Theology Reading / Listening Schedule for Kids, incorporating them both, but focusing on the  New Testament.

We also periodically break out the utterly fantastic church history books by Ned Bustard — Reformation ABCs: The People, Places and Things of the Reformation from A to Z and Church History ABCs: Augustine and 25 Other Heroes of the Faith. These are unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and break down oft-esoteric topics and biographies into bite-size, kid-friendly chunks. One thing I absolutely adore about classical education is the idea that kids can handle starting to delve into really topics at a very young age. Augustine doesn’t have to wait until high school. Church history doesn’t have to wait until they’re old enough to understand all the complexities. It doesn’t have to be a sudden introduction to the ancients once high school hits. Rather, we can just incorporate these big topics in an age-appropriate way from the beginning, and expand the breadth and width of our study as time goes on.
Gifted Classical-Leaning Homeschool Curriculum Choices for 2nd Grade (2017-2018) by Gina @ Oaxacaborn

History

As a part of Sonlight’s Core / Level C, we’re continuing with A Child’s History of the World, which we began last year (Sonlight uses this book in both Level B and Level C).  We also really enjoy some of the lessons and enrichment activities in Calvert’s accompanying fourth grade student workbook for Child’s History of the World, which Sonlight does not use.

Because we also love big cut-and-paste paper messes projects around here, we’ve also started incorporating a freestyle hybrid of lapbooking / notebooking, too.  I print out a related image or two from the Home School in the Woods Timeline Figure CD set, and Aveline goes to to town with 3-hole punched colored cardstock, a stack of mini-book elements, glue stick, markers, scissors, pen and pencil. She’ll write down any thing she thinks is important from the chapter, and glue everything together with aplomb…and glitter.

We were also planning to complete weekly Egypt-themed projects with another homeschooling family using Veritas Press’ Old Testament and Ancient Egypt as our spine, but that’s on hold right now.

Geography

Mapping, mapping, mapping! Did I mention mapping? Sonlight’s mapping method seems too simple to work: anytime you encounter a new location anywhere in your reading, you mark it on a map. That’s it! I am astonished at how much Aveline can recall about geography simply because we learn geographic  locations in context. She’ll also beg you to play Scrambled States at any given moment.

We’re using another Sonlight-recommended resource, too — Window on the World, a full-color encyclopedia of countries and cultures. As we read through by region, we also listen to Geography Songs. Those will stick with you for years! I can still sing the States and Capitals version we had on cassette as kids.

We were planning do to hands-on United States geography projects with another homeschooling family, but that’s on hold at the moment.

Art

I’m teaching Art History at our local homeschool co-op again this year, so our art lessons will be done in that setting.  Last year I taught first grade, and this year I’m working in a multi-age setting of second- through fourth-graders, which I think will be really exciting.  In this class, we’ll work our way through a number of famous artists and art genres, read children’s literature highlighting an artist’s life or a specific art technique, and create a hands-on art project relating to the week’s historical topic.I like to pull art from the public domain (see links above), print it full-color and have it laminated. This way, we can get up close and personal with the art without worrying about spilling on a book or smudging the print! Feel free to follow my Elementary Art / Homeschool Co-op Pinterest board for more ideas, too.

Physical Education / PE

It looks like this semester, phys. ed. will switch back and forth between kung fu after Chinese school, and free-play at the gymnastics facility where our co-op classes are held. This will be her first year trying out kung fu at the Chinese school; in the past, she’s done Chinese lion dance / drumming and Chinese folk dance. (Here’s a video of her performing a traditional Chinese dance at a Lunar New Year performance when she was four.)

Memory Work

Did you notice  how many of our subjects above include songs? I integrate memory work into what we’re already doing! We have math songs, science songs, grammar songs, geography songs, theology songs,  songs in Chinese..and a whole lotta Johnny Cash. Which brings us to the last topic…music!

Gifted Classical-Leaning Homeschool Curriculum Choices for 2nd Grade (2017-2018) by Gina @ Oaxacaborn

Music  / Vocals / Piano

After completing the 2-year Yamaha Junior Music Course at the music conservatory downtown, Aveline’s between piano teachers right now. She’s been working on pieces on her own as we look into other options.

Just as every family is unique, every homeschooling plan is unique

That’s a lot, right? So before I wrap up this tour, I just want to stop and point out a couple of ways in which our situation isn’t the norm.

First, like I’ve said, this is a plan for a child who is wired differently. She just is.  She’s quirky, she’s intense, she’s relentless. School calms her down. Workbooks are a balm to her. Structure gives her relaxation. If you have a child like this, you know exactly what I’m talking about! If you don’t, that’s okay. (Amy at The Hmmmschooling Mom, in her excellent piece, Schedules and Routines: Some Kids Actually Like Them, talks about how both structure and very little structure spell freedom, depending on your unique personality.)

Second, I want to point out that we obviously won’t be doing every subject every day. (I kind of hope that would go without saying.)

Third, I  want to reiterate once again — this is what our journey looks like. This is not what everyone’s journey needs to look like. The beauty of homeschooling is being able to design an individualized education plan to very personally meet the unique needs of  a specific child, within the dynamics of that particular family.

Fourth, I have one child.  I would love, so very much, to have our days interrupted by the needs of a sweet little infant or a toddler, but that isn’t the path God has chosen for us right now. So yes, while it’s true I have more time in each day to devote to getting through these educational resources,  please also know, this was not my original plan. I take comfort, often, in Isaiah (strange go-to book for comfort, right?) —

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'” (Isaiah 55:8-11)

Fifth, there’s another unique twist to our situation: we don’t live near family. My family is two thousand miles north; my husband’s family is three thousand miles west. This means our Sunday afternoons aren’t filled with cousins’ birthday parties, and our weeknights are not spent at family dinners. Again, is not our first choice, but this is the life we’ve been given for such a time as this (Esther 4:14).  Rather than lamenting where God has placed us, we’ve chosen to “redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:16) and “number our days” (Psalm 90:12), and celebrate the miracle child God’s graciously granted us to steward.

And you know what? This life is a wonderful gift. These golden days are a treasure. We have genuine, joyous, happy fun, and I have no apologies for “this one wild and precious life”. (Mary Oliver)

This post is part of the 9th Annual Back-to-Homeschool Blog Hop: Curriculum Week link-up, hosted by the wonderful iHomeschool Network. Click through to read more curriculum choices from other homeschool families! Are you a blogger? Link up your own 2017-2018 curriculum post!

BTS-Blog-Hop-Sept-2017-89985Disclosure of Material Connection: Some links above are “affiliate links” provided in conjunction with my participation in Amazon. com and Home School in the Woods’ affiliate program. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.  Please be assured, I only recommend products or services I use personally, and I will always disclose any such links. 

Gifted Classical-Leaning Homeschool Curriculum Choices for 2nd Grade (2017-2018) by Gina @ Oaxacaborn

books, Homeschooling, How To

A Guide to Jean Fritz Books

Jean Fritz’ living history books are a terrific way to incorporate a narrative, storytelling approach into to your homeschool history lessons.  You probably know about her popular U.S. history books, but did you know she was a missionary kid who also wrote books about her time in China?

A few weeks ago, I went through my entire Jean Fritz collection — over half of the books she’s ever written — and put together a guide for the iHomeschool Network blog called How to Choose the Perfect Jean Fritz History Book.  In this topical guide, I list the themes, geographical area, time in history, and suggested reading level for each book, so you can grab the title which best matches where you are right now in your history studies. You’ll see your favorites there, of course, but you just might discover some unknown gems as well, like books about Chinese history, a picture book with saturated 1950s art, and a number of longer novels for the middle grades.

What’s your absolute favorite Jean Fritz book? Mine — no surprise here — is Homesick. Click through to see the rest!

How to Choose the Perfect Jean Fritz History Book

Homeschooling, How To

Why Henri Rousseau Matters in Art Education

[This post contains affiliate links.]
Why Henri Rousseau Matters in Art Education (Plus FREE Printable and Art Lesson Resources)

This school year, I’ve had the delightful opportunity to teach art history at our local homeschool co-op.  As we work through various techniques and employ different art media, I often steer the conversation to famous artists who weren’t recognized or appreciated during their lifetime, but came to be highly regarded and respected later on. As we create together, I try to help the students let go of misconceptions about art.

After all, why is this human inability to accept new kinds of art so common? Why were so many now-beloved artists dismissed outright at first, only to have the art critics reverse their position later? What is it that people fundamentally misunderstand about art — over and over and over?

Important Truths About Art to Emphasize in an Elementary Art History Class

Whether we are children or adults, we often come into a study of art really quite intimidated by it all. The glorious masters and their astounding reproductions of the natural world have left us breathless, and quite convinced that only someone who can paint a scene indistinguishable from reality can be considered an artist.

But that’s not true.

Art isn’t always photorealistic.

In my art history class — we have a history portion and a hands-on art project — students are not required to replicate reality.  Before you assume I’m going all Cy Twombly on you, think about it. You don’t hear anyone arguing that a Monet isn’t art, even though his waterlilies are a far cry from a photographic representation.

The truth is, most art takes liberties with reality. Even paintings in no danger of being confused with modern abstraction, like The Lady of Shallot, are not an exact photocopy of nature. And neither is much of ancient art, romanticism, sculpture, impressionism, or any number of other art styles.

I often encounter children (and adults!) who believe if  an artist is drawing an apple, the final drawing needs to be indistinguishable from a photo of an apple. While this is one style of art, it’s not the only way.

Freedom to interpret, not copy, a scene is an especially important point to emphasize to budding artists who struggle with perfectionism, become easily discouraged, or are just still working on fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination: a finished art piece does not need to be a duplicate of the object the artist has attempted to represent. 

Why Henri Rousseau Matters in Art Education (Plus FREE Printable and Art Lesson Resources)

Artists convey feeling, mood, emotion and meaning through color, form, line, and any number of other constructs, not just through photorealism.  (And if the painting or sculpture represents a feeling or an idea, there’s not even a concrete, pictorial reality to compare!)

After all, art is intensely individual.

While there are unchangeable laws of physics governing light, shadows, and shape, the truth still remains that no two masters, given the same scene, would have put it to canvas the same manner.

When we are all creating together, I look for opportunities to highlight the incredible, creative differences between my student’s projects. I emphasize the little details which make each piece of art — and each young artist — unique.

Sometimes, when a student begins to struggle with comparison, I’ll pull out one of my art books, and open up to different works of art — for example, Klimt’s Rosebushes under the TreeRembrandt’s The Three Trees,  Van Gogh’s Almond Blossom, and Crola’s Oaks — and ask a series of questions reinforcing individuality and reiterating how wonderful it is that there is no one way to paint a tree.

Do these images all show trees?

Do these trees all look the same?

Did the same artist always paint a tree the same way?  (For more emphasis, I will ask them look at the difference between Klimt’s Rosebushes under the Tree and the Tree of Life, or Van Gogh’s Almond Blossom versus his Olive Tree series. )

I tell my students, it’s the same for each of them. Their art will not always match the art of the person sitting next to them, and that’s wonderful! Imagine a world in which everyone just imitated each other, never straying from what was expected or accepted. How boring and uninteresting would that be?

Ultimately, I want all kids to recognize how art allows individuals to express the same message in a very different way.

Why Henri Rousseau Matters in Art Education (Plus FREE Printable and Art Lesson Resources)
“Myself: Portrait – Landscape”, 1890, by Henri Rousseau (via Wikimedia Commons file)

Why Henri Rousseau Matters

Henri Rousseau, I think, embodies these ideals of individualism quite powerfully.  He wasn’t like any other painter of his time, and his work was soundly rejected. Why? Because he showed us the world in a very different way. He didn’t paint the way people expected him to,  and critics didn’t like that.

[Click to download my FREE mini-biography printable of Henri Rousseau for grades K-3]

Why Henri Rousseau Matters in Art Education (Plus FREE Printable and Art Lesson Resources)

He had no artistic training, did not come from a creative background, and didn’t take up art into he was in his forties.

When he did begin to paint, he didn’t paint what he knew. Instead, he painted things he’d never seen. He never left France, yet painted elaborate and imaginary jungles.

He looked at houseplants and imagined them double, triple, and quadruple their size, and these became his jungle foliage.

He thought about what animals might roam far away lands, and these partly-fictional creatures became his Surprised! tigers and exotic monkeys. People called them “grotesque”.[1]

He was mocked when he entered the art scene — and yet, kept on painting.

He was laughed at — and yet, kept on painting.

People looked at his work and told him it seemed as though he painted with his feet —and yet, he kept on submitting his paintings to galleries, year after year.

He was belittled by the establishment. He was told to change his style — and yet, kept on painting.

“‘The place rocks with laughter’, one critic wrote” [2] after seeing Rousseau’s paintings in a public gallery — and yet, Rousseau never gave up.

Today, of course, no one is laughing, and the art world can’t get enough of his dreamlike botanical works and quirky tropical animals.

Why Henri Rousseau Matters in Art Education (Plus FREE Printable and Art Lesson Resources)

The Best Picture Book about Henri Rousseau

“The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau” by Michelle Markel will introduce kids to many of Rousseau’s most famous paintings. Perhaps most importantly, it will offer a great lesson in individuality, empathy, and perseverance. Several of my more sensitive students were moved to compassionate tears by Rousseau’s life story — and then buoyed, encouraged, and motivated to keep on painting!

Every page of this book is saturated edge-to-edge in Rousseau’s trademark style. The publisher’s book trailer, linked above, is really wonderful as well.

How to Paint a Surprised Tiger Like Henri Rousseau: A Hands-On Elementary Art Project

Supplies Needed:

Why Henri Rousseau Matters in Art Education (Plus FREE Printable and Art Lesson Resources)
“Surprised!”, 1891, by Henri Rousseau (via Wikimedia Commons file)
Why Henri Rousseau Matters in Art Education (Plus FREE Printable and Art Lesson Resources)
“Worried Tiger”, 2017, by Aveline (age 6)

Each of my art history classes also includes  — of course! — a hands-on project. After reading the mini biography of Henri Rousseau, and enjoying “The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau” picture book, we created our very own tiger hiding in the jungle during a sudden rainstorm.

With Rousseau’s iconic  Surprised! painting as the inspiration, I led the students in a guided pencil drawing on watercolor paper.

(Not sure how to execute a guided drawing? A white board works well. You draw a stroke on the white board, and have the students draw the same stroke on their paper. Since young students have a hard time translating a sense of scale from a huge whiteboard to a small 8.5×11″ or 9×12″ space, I find that using a hand-held white board approximately the same size as the students’ papers makes for a less frustrated class overall. We used Art Projects for Kids’ excellent “How to Draw a Tiger Face” tutorial for guidance.)

Rather than simply mimic of the sample drawing, I asked each child to draw the facial expression however they wished, after thinking about how a tiger caught in a storm might feel. Would the tiger be worried? Elated? Indifferent?

Once the students had sketched out their tiger, we turned to watercolor, using the simple concept of light to dark — filling in the tiger with yellow, accenting with orange, then red, and finally filling in the dark brown / black areas — before adding jungle foliage and grass. Since grass blades are generally wider at the bottom and narrower at the top, some students might have a better time at this if they flip their painting upside down. This way, they’ll be able to direct their brush strokes from top down, rather than trying to paint from the bottom of the page upwards.

If kids are willing to let the unexpected happen, they can add a drippy rain storm (there’s slanted silvery gray-green rain throughout Surprised!). Paint the desired storm color across the sky, then hold the art upright and allow the watery paint to “rain” down on the tiger and greenery. Not everyone will be willing to let the paint run or even want to paint a storm — and that’s okay!

Why Henri Rousseau Matters in Art Education (Plus FREE Printable and Art Lesson Resources)

It’s really fun to teach little ones about Rousseau! He’s such an example of perseverance in the face of odds. I especially think Rousseau can encourage kids who are hesitant artists, kids who doubt their own abilities, or kids who have perfectionistic tendencies.

Henri Rousseau never stepped foot in a jungle, but didn’t let that stop him from painting jungles.The animals in his art didn’t look the animals on anyone else’s canvas, but he wasn’t bothered by it. The images he created were flatter and less 3D than the art his peers were producing — but he kept on painting.

Why Henri Rousseau Matters in Art Education (Plus FREE Printable and Art Lesson Resources)
“The Flamingoes”, 1907, by Henri Rousseau (via Wikimedia Commons file)
Why Henri Rousseau Matters in Art Education (Plus FREE Printable and Art Lesson Resources)
“The Equatorial Jungle”, 1909, by Henri Rousseau (via Wikimedia Commons file)

Rousseau’s imaginative, stylized worlds have a fairy-tale feel about them — an atmosphere of suspense,  an element of danger, and an overarching sense of the unknown, yet all within the safe confines of the canvas.

These are all the ingredients for adventure.

This is where learning happens.

Sometimes as adults we can tend to be a bit of afraid of abstract, stylized, or otherwise interpretive art, since we aren’t quite sure what we are seeing.  But be not afraid.  And don’t pass that fear onto your children. As the wise Francis Schaeffer said,

“Christians . . . ought not to be threatened by fantasy and imagination. Great painting is not ‘photographic’: think of the Old Testament art commanded by God. There were blue pomegranates on the robes of the priest who went into the Holy of Holies. In nature there are no blue pomegranates. Christian artists do not need to be threatened by fantasy and imagination, for they have a basis for knowing the difference between them and the real world ‘out there.’ The Christian is the really free person–he is free to have imagination. This too is our heritage. The Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars.”

Be free, friends! And, as my daughter has said, go crazy with the paints.

Why Henri Rousseau Matters in Art Education (Plus FREE Printable and Art Lesson Resources)

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some links above are “affiliate links” provided in conjunction with my participation in Amazon.com’s Associates Program. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.  Please be assured, I only recommend products or services I use personally, and I will always disclose any such links.