Thursday, August 16, 2018

Hop back to it - homeschooling that is!




While some of us wait until after Labor Day to begin a new school year, many families have already begun a new year of home education. To cheer you on, and give you some great ideas, the Homeschool Review Crew is having a Back to School blog hop starting on Monday, August 20th.

I've been spending most of the month at our state fair, but I'll have a few posts ready for you for next week. Please come back bright and early on Monday morning and join in the fun. Bring your tea or coffee and do a little reading during breakfast.

See you then!







While you are waiting, this post about Homeschool School Supply lists from two years ago is still one of our most read posts. If you're wondering what to get while the school supply are still on sale - check it out! 





Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Paddington Bear - Unit Study ~ a Crew review


lit-based unit studies, Michael Bond, Paddington, marmalade


In our house we have always loved Paddington Bear from the picture book by Michael Bond, so even though my youngest recently turned 18, we were excited to check out the Paddington Bear unit study from Branch Out World, a UK based company that encourages families to learn together.


This Paddington Bear unit study is from Branch Out World’s Picture Book Explorers series and is geared for ages 5-9. I definitely think you can push that upper limit up to 11 or 12 with out any major problems. You will spend five days (or more) reading the picture book together and doing activities that help your child learn more about: setting, words, pictures, science, and math + crafts. Because it was originally written for the UK, you will find British English spellings like maths and colours, which add to the charm of reading Paddington.

While you may find the various activities a bit above the understanding of your five year old, I think from ages 6 and up would really enjoy doing the extra activities. This makes it an easy open-and-go unit study to use with a variety of ages. Your youngest children can simply enjoy hearing you read Paddington while the older ones can dig deeper.

This downloadable PDF begins with instructions for the parents to help you prepare ahead of time (trust me, it’s not a lot, mostly things you will already have at home) so you can dive right in. It also contains a word of caution to try to work on this for five days straight, or as close together as you can, before your children loose interest in the subject. While that might happen with some books, I think it is more likely that your children will fall in love with Paddington and want to do EVERY suggested activity. Why do I say that? The Paddington in our pictures here belongs to our 20 year old who has loved Paddington since we first read it probably 15 years ago. That was also the first time I ever tried marmalade… and I still keep a jar in the fridge today. :)


Day 1 focuses on setting and this is where you will look at (and colour) maps of the UK and Peru. In case you have not yet read Paddington, he comes from Darkest Peru. There are other suggested activities for your older children that talk about immigration, travel, and flags.


Day 2 is focused on words and covers things like themes, inspiration for books, subject-verb agreement, and explains narration and how your child can learn to use it. We highly recommend teaching your children how to use narration. It is a basic tenant on Charlotte Mason’s style of education, and one we have used for all of our 16 years of home education.

lit-based unit studies, Michael Bond, Paddington, marmalade

Day 3 focuses your study on pictures. Here you will learn more about the illustrator, look at the pictures and how they emphasize various points in the story, and give your child a chance to do some drawing themselves. Throughout this unit study there are a variety of activities for each day, of which you can choose one or many.There are also mini-books you can print off to help your child work through some of these topics.

Day 4 is about science and may be one of my favorites as far as activities. Here you learn about what kind of bear Paddington is (besides the adorable kind!) You also have suggestions for Nature Study (another key component in a Charlotte Mason education,) and several science experiments with soap and shaving cream. These would probably best be done outside on your porch. :)

Day 5 has several awesome activities that focus on math, crafts to try, and recipes to make together.

lit-based unit studies, Michael Bond, Paddington, marmalade

Overall, I think this is a stellar way to take a well-loved picture book and expand upon it and the learning opportunities it provides. For those of you stateside, we found that the picture book version recommended in this unit study is illustrated by R.W. Alley who illustrated the Paddington Treasury that we purchased at our local Costco store last summer.

Our girls have always loved Paddington, especially our now 20 year old daughter Emily. A couple of years ago her younger sister Arlene saw that a local store had stuffed Paddington bears for sale and bought Emily one for Christmas. Then Arlene begged me to find a way to keep Emily from going to that store for two months so it would not ruin her surprise.

As I was borrowing Paddington to finish up the pictures for this review, one of Emily's friends saw me with Paddington and he said “Oh! Where did you get a Paddington? My favorite book was always Paddington in the Kitchen where he bakes a cake.”

A well-loved bear, and a wonderful unit study. What a great combination!



Paddington Bear {Branch Out World Reviews}







Monday, August 13, 2018

Books With Bean ~ The Wild Book


book reviews by teens, Juan Villoro, The Wild Book


Title: The Wild Book

Author: Juan Villoro

Published: 2008 (original edition in Spanish), 
November, 4th 2017 (English edition)

Genre: Children's 

Summary: Juan's life is turned upside-down when he learns his father is leaving to work in Paris and his parents are separating. Suddenly a summer break from school has gone from looking like fun days with his friends to living with his strange uncle Tito in his uncle’s strange house full of books. Upon arriving Juan learns that his summer is about to be anything but boring. He is a special sort of reader and His uncle’s books have personalities of their own. 

Juan and his new friend Catalina, who helps at her family’s pharmacy across the street, soon begin to share the books from uncle Tito’s house. Reading the adventures of the Heart Shaped River they learn more about how the books work to find just the right readers for themselves. Soon they are on the hunt for the most elusive book of them all The Wild Book which has never been read and only held a few times. 

What I liked about it: This book was an amazing and beautiful book! I definitely recommend it to anyone who loves books and loves to read and go on adventures (real or in print). Juan, Catalina, Uncle Tito and all the other characters were fun and each was interesting in their own way. The way the book talks about books and their readers really resonated with me. The story was unique and I loved it a lot. It was also really interesting because it was not originally written in English and yet in the translation from Spanish there was never a time where it sounded weird or choppy. 

Language: None

Romance: As soon as Juan meets Catalina he falls in love with her. However the characters are young (13ish) and it never gets inappropriate. Juan kisses her on the cheek once and Catalina does so back a little later. It does say at the end of the book that several years later they got married but it is obvious that it is not immediate. 

Violence: None

Magic: The books move on their own. They have a way of appearing before those that they think would like to read them. It is never quite explained how this all works however. 


Recommended Age: Juan is 13 and I think that 12-13 would be a good age to read this book for the first time. However if you are older I still think you would like it a lot.


book reviews by teens, Juan Villoro, The Wild Book






Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Indiana State Fair




It has been busy couple of weeks around here,  as we've spent a lot of time at the Indiana State Fair. As I scroll through social media and see first day of school pictures from our friends, I am reminded once again how freeing it is to choose to homeschool and set your own school schedule. In case you're wondering, we always start the Tuesday after Labor Day and finish before Memorial Day. 

Local schools give excused absence to the kids who are showing their 4-H animals or otherwise competing at the state fair. I am really glad of that because it is a truly educational experience, and a whole lot of fun!

When I think about our State Fair, I wonder if it is sort of like when our grandparents' and great-grandparents' generations attended the World's Fairs. So many new things, so many shows to see and experiences to explore. I haven't ridden anything on the midway yet, that's not really my thing, but I have seen a whole host of animal competitions, talent shows, dance routines, and I'm looking forward to attending the big top circus show. 

I'm working on some feature articles for our local newspaper about some of the 4-H kids from our county who are showing animals at the fair. I've learned a lot, and met some really awesome kids!

You really should consider taking a road trip and visiting the Indiana State Fair, and if you live too far away to get here before the fair end on August 19th, then figure out a state fair that is closer to your home and go there this fall. There is a good reason why the fair's hashtag is #greatest17daysofsummer !


Whether you're coming to our state fair, or attending your own, check out our post from Sunday afternoon about tips for attending the fair!

Stay tuned for more updates :)