Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cycle 1 Reading Plan for Lit Lovers

I've finally finished selecting and compiling our list of family read-alouds and picture books for next year! Before you take a look at this, please refer back to our multiple disclaimers about not needing to correlate readings and blahblahblahblahblah. Then, if you'd like to join us in reading a bunch (or just a bit), here's what we have...

First, the Cycle 1 Reading Plan without the planner (pictured above), which includes all of our family's planned reading and activities next year. (Key word = plan. This does not mean that we will implement all of this. It's just a list of everything but the kitchen sink. Please remember it's just a reference tool.):  Download the Cycle 1 Reading Plan here.

NOTE #1: The explanation page for these planners may still have Story of the World referenced, but our family is reading (or rather, listening to) Mystery of History next year instead of Story of the World. (If you're curious why, read our Mystery of History and Story of the World Comparison.) For our plans with Story of the World readings, visit this post. In fact, if you are new to my reading plans, you may want to stick with the easiest version of our reading plans!

NOTE #2: I've kept everything on this list (except for Story of the World), but it's so you can pick what best fits your family. Some may want to use the experiments from the VanCleave book, while others may choose to use God's Design for Life. They are both there so you can choose. The same goes for any of our readings. I liken this plan to the plans provided by companies like Sonlight or My Father's World. Do what works for your family and drop the rest. It's all there just for reference. If you have questions about any of it, please ask! 

Next, we have the reading plan included at the bottom of our planner pages for those who wish to plan/schedule their own Bible, math, reading, etc. curriculum (shown below).  Download the Cycle 1 Planner with Reading Plan here.

And... finally, for those who want all of our reading selections on a single page, here's our Cycle 1 Read Alouds and Picture Books list.

Although I think I've caught most of the glaring mistakes, I simply ask for grace on the minor typos, as I've ultra-struggled with formatting issues between Microsoft Excel on Mac vs PC. (gggrrrr....) If you do find a major mistake (an incorrect reference, for example), I'll be glad to fix it if you contact me!

Please know that I do not put anything on this list that we have not invested in ourselves. I have included affiliate links, but my hope is that these books will be available to you via your public library. If you use our affiliate links, thank you so much. I pray that one day my dream will become a reality.

Now.... for a bit about the books we're reading:

Family Read-Alouds
Believe it or not, I have reasons for selecting these books! Here's a little about each of the read alouds I've selected.
A Cry from Egypt. A well-written blend of Jewish and Egyptian history (historical fiction) written from a Christian perspective.
Archimedes and the Door of Science. Bendick. An intriguing way to connect science to our history studies.
Illustrated Stories from the Greek Myths OR The Usborne Book of Greek Myths OR Illustrated Stories from Aesop. Realizing that some prefer not to study the Greek Myths, I have provided the option of studying Aesop's fables. I have read through large portions of each of these three books, and all of them are delightfully entertaining. (Illustrated Stories from Greek Myths is geared more towards younger children, and the longer Usborne Book of Greek Myths is geared more towards older children. Both are very well written and are more engaging (in my opinion) than D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths.) We plan to read all three of these books in the coming year, although I've only "scheduled" the reading of one of them.
Detectives in Togas. Winterfield. Engaging read for our family. Mystery + history + a small dose of silliness = fun.
Who Was Gandhi? Rau. A broad overview of the life of Gandhi with historical insets about things like the caste system.
Who Was Queen Victoria? Gigliotti. A broad overview of the reign of Queen Victoria with factual insets. Easy to understand and engaging for our children.
Heart of a Samurai. Preus. The longest of all the books on our list this year, Heart of a Samurai gives us a glimpse into the period of isolation.
David Livingstone: Africa's Trailblazer (Christian Heroes: Then & Now). Benge.  Although David Livingstone may not be the best role model for missions (due to his enthusiasm for adventure vs. parenthood), this book gives a glimpse of Africa, the slave trade, and other events on our timeline.
Awesome Ancient Ancestors!: Mound Builders, Maya, and More (America's Horrible Histories). Levy. This book provides a comical and engaging way to discuss the early North Americans. A break from the heavier reading for this semester.
Exploration and Conquest: The Americas After Columbus: 1500-1620 (American Story) This is a thin book that would be considered more of a picture book than a read aloud, but it relates to several memory work sentences and provides a break from the longer readings this year.
Om-Kas-Toe. Thomasma. I wanted to select a story featuring Native Americans because our memory work does not provide much of a chance to go into this culture much. I selected this one because this author (and this book) comes highly recommended by trusted sources.
O Canada, Her Story. Akins. A collection of biographical stories about Canada from one of our favorite companies, Knowledge Quest.
Nate Saint: On a Wing and a Prayer. Benge. Another inspiring missionary biography (which ties into our timeline event Jim & Elisabeth Elliot).
The Bronze Bow. Speare. A highly recommended book set in the Roman times, scheduled for weekend reading throughout the first semester. This one will be re-read in Challenge.
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. Although this book does not tie in to our Cycle 1 history, it is loosely connected to our memory work because of the nautical/science connections - and it is a wonderfully fascinating book that encourages a love of learning. We have enjoyed this book so much that we are re-reading it again next year. (And it will be re-read again in Challenge.)
Picture Books (History)
King Solomon & the Queen of Sheba. Greenberg This book is incredibly fascinating! A blend of Jewish history and African history! 
You Wouldn't Want to Be a Pyramid Builder!: A Hazardous Job You'd Rather Not Have. Morley This somewhat silly series is a favorite of our boys.
Explore Within an Egyptian Mummy. Hopping We found this at a discount store at some point. Very neat to pull out the mummy model for some hands-on learning!
The Librarian Who Measured the Earth. Lasky. Fabulous book about the Greek geographer/mathematician/librarian Eratosthenes who measured the earth with amazing accuracy.
Greeks, Romans, Countrymen! (Chest the Crab's Comix With Content) We own the whole lot of these comic-style history books.
Alexander the Great. Demi. (Illustrated) Demi's books are just beautiful!
One Grain Of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale. Demi This mathematical folktale comes from India.
Marco Polo. Demi. Another of Demi's beautiful books highlighting the travels of Marco Polo (China and India)
Timeline Graphic Novels: The First Emperor Comic-style book about ancient China with historical insets.
Built to Last. Macauley. A combination volume of Macauley's Cathedral, Castle, and Mosque. Also good to reference in Cycle 2. (We also own City, which is about Roman city planning and construction.)
Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain. Aardema. In the same tone as "The House that Jack Built," this book's rhythmic rhyme makes it a favorite of our boys.
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale. Aardema. We love West African Folktales, and this one is also a family favorite!
Ancient Africa (Chester Comix with Content) Comic-style book that touches on our memory work.
The Sad Night: The Story of an Aztec Victory and a Spanish Loss. A beautiful book with great historical information regarding Hernan Cortes and the Aztecs.
O Canada. Harrison. (Illustrated) Beautiful book with the words of the Canadian national anthem.
A Picture Book of Simon Bolivar. Adler. One of the few picture books available about the liberation of South America.
Napoleon: The Story of the Little Corporal. Burleigh. Illustrated book with great quotes and information about Napoleon. A great book for both Cycle 1 and 2.
The Heroic Symphony. Celenza. A look at Beethoven's Heroic Symphony and how it relates to Napoleon. A great book for both Cycle 1 and 2.
Leveled Readers
Tut’s Mummy Lost & Found (Step-Into-Reading). Donnelly.
The Trojan Horse: How the Greeks Won the War (Step into Reading). Little
Romulus and Remus (Ready-to-Reads)
Pompeii: Buried Alive! (Step into Reading). Kunhardt. 
To the Top: Climbing the World’s Highest Mountains (Step Into Reading). Kramer.
Amistad: the Story of a Slave Ship (Penguin Young Readers, L4)
Find other Cycle 1 Readers in our Amazon Store
Science and Math (Readings and Picture Books)
The World of Plants (God's Design for Life)
A Childs Geography Explore His Earth (Vol 1). Voskamp
Our Weather & Water (God's Design for Heaven & Earth). Lawrence.
Where Butterflies Grow. Ryder
Zinnia’s Flower Garden. Wellington
The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth (Magic School Bus)
Maps and Globes (Reading Rainbow Book) Great for both Cycle 1 and 2.
Geography from A to Z: A Picture Glossary. Knowlton  Great book that can also help with geography/geology terminology in Challenge.
Big Book of Earth & Sky. Hodge. Wonderful book written from creationist perspective.
DK Eye Wonder Weather
Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi (A Math Adventure) We love all of the Sir Cumference books! Great living math!
Sir Cumference and the First Round Table (A Math Adventure)
Other Picture Books (Fine Arts & English)
Ish by Peter Reynolds. Our favorite book related to Fine Arts.
Not a Box 
The Turn-Around, Upside-Down Alphabet Book Fun book that requires you to turn the book sideways and upside down to imagine each letter as... something else.
Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse Mirror images and mirrored poetry. This is a favorite read for when we're tackling mirror images in the first six weeks.
Art Fraud Detective: Spot the Difference, Solve the Crime! Trick your children into studying art in detail!
Story of the Orchestra : Listen While You Learn About the Instruments, the Music and the Composers Who Wrote the Music!
Under, Over, by the Clover:  What is a Preposition? by Brian P. Cleary We love all the Brian Cleary books! Easy way to introduce parts of speech to younger children!
Around the House the Fox Chased the Mouse: Adventures in Prepositions by Rick Walton
Vinny the Action Verb and Lucy the Linking Verb by Coert Voorhees 
Mozart: The Wonder Child: A Puppet Play in Three Acts. Stanley. I just love this book about Mozart!!!
Our Classical Notebook
Posts about Notebooking
Comic Illustration Notebooking Pages {Free Printable}
How to Notebook with CC Science or Timeline Cards
Beginner's Guide to Copywork, Dictation, and Narration
Multiplication Drill Sheet {Free Printable}
Draw What You Hear Page (Classical Music) Notebooking page referenced in the following post:
Classical Music Study Using Free Squilt Lessons
Continental Blob Maps {Free Printable}
Drawing World Map Free-Hand: Major Circles of Latitude
Song School Latin Free Coloring Pages and Pronunciation Audios
Free Kindle Books for Literature Selections:
*Affiliate links are included for books outside of 

Other related posts:
CC Cycle 1 Planners
CC Cycle At-a-Glance Pages
CC Cycle Reading Correlations (All Cycles)
CC Cycle 1 Booklist
CC Cycle 1 Supplemental Resources Page
Our Classical Notebook

If you are searching for a different Cycle, please visit our Cycle 2 Resources Page or our Cycle 3 Resources Page.  If you have any questions, please let me know!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Core School Work: What We Fall Back On

As I write my reading plans for the coming school year, I have to share with you something that is so, so important to me, just in case you've missed it in the other half-a-hundred posts I've shared about reality.

Things ain't perfect around here, y'all.

My home's a mess, I'm not as patient as I'd like to be (understatement of the year), and all of my plans don't get done.

Honestly, my plans are just... plans. We don't always get around to all that I set out to do. Each school year, we encounter some sort of major hiccup. One year, it was moving to a new state, another year it was building on to our home (I still remember the chainsaw chaos like it was yesterday!), another year it was an eye surgery (when I couldn't even read for over two months!), another year it was pregnancy (when I couldn't stay awake to read for over two months), and this year... it has been the best hiccup of all, Isaac (who likes to babble louder than I am reading to contribute to our read-aloud time).

So, what happens when I'm on Day 28 of my husband's absence, I've been up with the baby all night, our home is a wreck, we are out of eggs, bread, and milk, and I can't even remember what day it is?

Well, not a whole lot. Our school day is really rather unimpressive on days like this. And the truth is, this year has had a whole lot of really rather unimpressive days like this.

So then, what gets done? While we have had some days where "nothing" has gotten done (where we've taken a break and have spent the day outside or have gone somewhere anywhere else together or have just spent a day of play), most days like this we fall back on what I call "the core school work." It looks something like this:
  1. Reading
  2. wRiting
  3. aRithmetic
  4. Recitation
What do I mean? Well, let's just take 'em one at a time...

  • Bible:  Read a passage of scripture together at the breakfast table
  • Phonics (for primary Grades K-3): Teach your children how to recognize and sound out letters and words with whatever curriculum fits you and your child(ren).
  • Read books: Read books to your children above reading level to increase vocabulary (a King James Version of the Bible would suffice and would also fulfill bullet #1) and allow your children to read books below reading level (to increase speed, accuracy, and fluency) and at reading level (to improve overall reading and comprehension skills).
  • Spelling: Learn the spelling rules and practice spelling words according to those spelling rules.
  • Copywork/Dictation (aka, "Notebooking") (Grades K-3): Practice penmanship and introduce children to sentence construction, parts of a sentence, punctuation, capitalization, and parts of speech through copywork and/or dictation. Some spelling programs include dictation as part of their curriculum.
  • English Grammar & Composition (Grades 4-6): In the intermediate grades, most children are ready for a thorough study of English grammar and are prepared to more formally learn the structures and styles of writing.
  • Math: Teach children the discipline of completing math lessons
  • Math facts: Use flashcards, timed drills, and games to master math facts
  • Memory work review: Listen to audio, use whiteboard, and/or play games to review memory work
So... what does "core school work" look like in our home?
Here are snippets of what this has looked like on different days throughout our school year. These are not all from the same day. (Note that they are wearing different pajamas.)

  • Bible: This year, we worked through Grapevine Studies Old Testament Catechism and then dabbled in PictureSmart Bible New Testament. But as of late, we're just reading scriptures together or listening to scripture songs and talking about how they apply to our lives.
Grapevine Studies
PictureSmart Bible

  • Phonics (for primary Grades K-3): We use All About Reading for our children (in kindergarten and grade 3). I love the extras that All About Reading teaches (like idioms or elements of a story), and my children thoroughly enjoy the stories. All About Learning Press has the best readers available - way better than Bob books! The boys all gather around to hear David or Isaac read from All About Reading books. Usually, laughter ensues.
All About Reading

  • Read books. We even take books with us when we have errands to run. (Lots of reading can happen on dentist appointment days.)
  1. Above reading level: Some of the read alouds from our reading plan I select specifically to meet this goal. I also have an older child who does the reading for me when I am maxed out (or when Isaac babbles too loudly for anyone to hear me).
  2. Below reading level: whatever our children enjoy reading - Amelia Bedelia, Monster Trucks, Magic Treehouse
  3. At reading level: Adventures in Odyssey Imagination Station, our correlated readers.
Reading while running errands

Reading in our PJs

  • Spelling: We use All About Spelling for Grades K-6 and then use Phonetic Zoo from Institute for Excellence in Writing for our children beyond that. David likes to transform his spelling tests into "Word World" or comics. Sometimes he writes silly sentences using his spelling words to include in his current "My Storybook" booklet (which is just a bunch of papers folded in half and stapled with a piece of card stock for a cover).
A spelling test

  • Copywork/Dictation (aka, "Notebooking") (Grades K-3): We use Prescripts for penmanship/copywork and our All About Spelling sentences for dictation. There have been times we have "notebooked" our memory work, but we have not used notebooking much this year. 
Levi's copywork

David's penmanship practice and copywork

A History Comic Illustration notebooking page to review history memory work (Click to download.)

  • English Grammar & Composition (Grades 4-6): We use the Classical Conversations Essentials program starting in 4th grade. Up to that point, we've just practiced English grammar memory work and learn a few elements of writing from the IEW Bible Heroes Writing Lessons. 
A bit of Essentials work on the board

IEW Writing Assignments x 2 boys.
  • Math: We use Saxon Math and Life of Fred. Saxon Math teaches a discipline of math, and Life of Fred provides motivation for doing extra math. Our oldest will spend hours on math of his own accord when he's using Life of Fred.
Saxon Math assignment

They read Life of Fred in their spare time because they love it.
  • Math facts: Sometimes it's notebook drills, sometimes it's flashcards, sometimes it's a math game, and sometimes it's just the drills within the Saxon Math assignment.
Multiplication Drill (Click to download.)

Another multiplication drill using a mat I found at Dollar Tree a few years ago

  • Memory work review: Most of the time, we just listen to our memory work CDs in the car or recite the memory work in the Learnin' Loft. We also use flash cards quite a bit. Occasionally we play a game, but mostly we just sing/recite our memory work and/or use flashcards. (When we use Prescripts or notebook our memory work, it kills two birds with one stone - practicing history memory work (or timeline) and penmanship/copywork practice.)
Latin flashcards

Playing games with Latin flashcards

English grammar flashcards

So, that's what it looks like in our home. Not every day. Not all the time. But this is the structure of a "core school day." It doesn't even involve keeping up with our own reading plan. In fact, have you noticed that I haven't mentioned anything about cooking mummy hotdogs or building model lungsThat's because that doesn't often happen in our home. The core schoolwork is what we fall back on. It's the foundation of our classical education.

A bunch of cute boys

The rest... is just lagniappe.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

CC Cycle 1 Reading Plans

This is a long post, y'all, but I encourage you to grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and read through the whole thing, as excruciating as it may be to invest the time to read my wordiness in our very fast-paced world...

In the past, I have only put together one reading plan - our family's reading plan - and shared with others just in case it may be helpful to another family. This year, I aim to create four different reading plans.  

Four different reading plans?!? Why?

Well, some folks find our family's reading a bit over-the-top, and you know what? That's absolutely a-okay! Although I've always loved books, we did not start out reading dozens and dozens of books per year. We first started reading out loud a little bit at a time (and by a little bit, I mean a. little. bit.). My children's attention spans for longer read-alouds grew over time. And when I say "attention span," I mean that our six year old still plays with toys (seemingly not paying attention) while I'm reading longer, non-illustrated books. In reality, he has actually heard much of what we've read together. Believe it or not, it's not picture perfect around here like it looks on the cover of every single homeschool curriculum catalog. Did you know that parents and children pose for those? It's okay for homeschool to be a bit chaotic. Life can be a bit chaotic.

We've been doing this reading-a-lot thing for several years now, so my reading plan is not overwhelming to me. In fact, it's a lot like a Sonlight reading plan. But... I'm hoping this makes it simpler for those who are not ready to plunge knee-deep into books. (And.. it's a more affordable option, too.)

What you'll find here:
Cycle 1 Reading Plan: Using only CC-Recommended Resources
Cycle 1 Reading Plan: Using CC-Recommended Resources Plus a Little Bit More
Cycle 1 Reading Plan: Our Personal Reading Plan for the Lit Lovers
Coming later (hopefully): Cycle 1 Reading Plan: Usborne Books Only

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Final Three of Cycle Three

Our final three weeks of CC have been (or are currently) occupied by our nearly-transcontinental travels...

You could say that the final three weeks for us have been (or are currently) homeschool-ish. While we've seized plenty of learning opportunities, it hasn't been with our normal reading selections and math assignments. It's been with reading pamphlets and books about national and state parks, and visiting historical sites, and doing Jr. Ranger activities, and seeing geographic locations in real life. This would be why I've referenced one of our absolute FAVORITE picture books, Ish by Peter Reynolds. Any time we are doing anything (like learning to draw something new, or drawing the USA freehand, or drawing continental blob maps, or drawing the Great Circles of Latitude on a blank sheet of paper), we give ourselves a break from perfectionism and say that it looks, "ish." This book has provided a fun way to embrace the freedom of tackling new things without the normal fears of failure that can cause so much anxiety in children (and adults!). In fact, it's a favorite book of our entire community.

Not only that, "ish" is a great way to bare my often not-so-great cooking.

Okay, that was a long tangent just to explain that homeschooling has looked "ish" for us.  This means that we still have yet to read the following books from our reading plan. I just couldn't fit all these books in our luggage. (Unfortunately, we had to pack clothes instead.) But... we actually have already read these books because my children grab them as soon as they arrive in the mail (or we've owned them since the last time we were studying American history).

So, here's the truth:  We often fall behind on our own reading plan. But that's the plus of the Classical Conversations Foundations Program. There are 24 weeks of CC, which leaves another 12 weeks to "catch up" on anything that we missed (assuming you are on a 36-week schedule for your school year!).

Okay, so here's what the plan is for the final three weeks:

It's not easy to find books that gently handle an event like 9/11. That's why I love the picture books, The Little Chapel that Stood (bottom right), The Man Who Walked Between the Towers (bottom left), and Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey (top left). All three of these are fantastic. Our children love them. I love them.

Moving on to the study of the Constitution (Weeks 23 and 24), we have If You Were There When They Signed the Constitution, which covers the history behind the writing of the Constitution,  and Our Constitution Rocks, which takes you through every sentence of the U.S. Constitution and tells you what it means. (I've come across some books about the Preamble that I have not liked much due to the underlying political stance, so I just narrowed it down to these two books. And because they are both a bit long, it works out well to read them over the final two weeks of CC.)

To wrap up our study of American history and geography, we will re-read America the Beautiful, a beautiful picture book with several tie ins to our history sentence memory work over the course of the year.

Finally, we have a few items on our shelves for U.S. Presidents. Not pictured is the Presidential Scrapbook, which we've really enjoyed due to its simplicity, illustrations/pictures, and the built-in quiz. Stuck on the Presidents (bottom right) is good one for the sticker-book and timeline fans, and the The Look-It-Up Book of Presidents is a good overall reference for Presidents. Our boys also like So You Want to Be President? (left), but there are so many great books about the Presidents that it's hard to strongly recommend one over the other.

So that wraps up the plan for our final three weeks. As soon as we return home, we'll dive into preparing geography projects for our CC Community Geography Fair. After that, I hope to write about our adventures across the Great American Southwest, which is what we ACTUALLY did during Weeks 22-24. But I leave this here for those interested in seeing an inside look at the books on our shelves for the final three of Cycle Three!

Affiliate links are included in this post.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Making Connections

It's been an interesting few weeks here in the Ferrell household, and as we prepare for our big trip out west, I thought I'd wrap up what's been a-happenin' around here as of late.

It was another year where my husband and I were separated by thousands of miles for our anniversary, but the boys surprised me with "anavasary" (hard to spell) gifts. I am so thankful that our children love to celebrate our anniversary with us. I pray for their future marriages - and for their future wives. (That can be taken many ways... and it would be true no matter which way you interpret it! ha!) We talked a lot about marriage over the past week - what it means to sacrifice self for another, what it means for a husband to love his wife as Christ loves the church, what it means for a wife to honor her husband, what to look for in a future wife. These were precious talks with boys who mean the world to me.

LEGO Gary and Brandy sharing a cup of coffee offshore Brazil.
Our schedule has been quite interrupted as of late, but before I get into that, let me share with you some books we've been reading...

To tie in with our memory work for NATO and communism, we read the picture books The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain (Caldecott Honor Book) and Christmas from Heaven: The True Story of the Berlin Candy Bomber, both of which give a good glimpse into the effects of communism.  (The price of this one has recently increased; there are other great books about the Candy Bomber, so be sure to do a search to find one that's more affordable). Due to the boys' fascination with espionage, David also read Spies! (DK Readers, Level 3: Reading Alone).  Our read aloud was Tree in the Trail, which we thoroughly enjoyed! Who would have ever thought reading about the life of a tree [on the Santa Fe Trail] could be so intriguing? It's not surprising, though. Holling's books are some of the best living geography books I've ever come across:

The illustrations are so fantastic, and each page is loaded with interesting facts that tie in history and science as well. It was fun to compare our Geography Trivium Table with the illustrations in the book. [What's more, we are traveling along this trail a bit on our big trip!]

The following week (Week 20) our reading selections included The Amazing Impossible Erie Canal and the song "The Erie Canal" from The Children's Treasury of Virtues. This song is a favorite of our children. They first learned it three years ago as they listened to their Wee Sing America CD.

Once again, we matched up our reading with the trivium tables.

Reading geography-related stories is especially helpful for David (our rather-linguistic, not-so-spatial reasoner) for memorizing geographical locations. 

For history, we enjoyed reading about school integration through the eyes of Ruby Bridges - both through a simple reader Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story (Scholastic Reader, Level 2), and through a longer read-aloud autobiography Through My Eyes

We loved comparing the Rockwell painting, "The Trouble We All Live With" (from In Search of Norman Rockwell's America) to the same image in the reader and to the photos of the real Ruby Bridges. This Rockwell book has been fantastic for studying art alongside history this year!

We even used In Search of Norman Rockwell's America as we continued into Week 21's memory work on astronauts walking on the moon...

Okay, so we have gone a bit overboard with space books in our home, but we've collected these during our Cycle 2 studies of astronomy (and just because our children are fascinated with astronomy).  Most of these are readers:  Spacebusters: The Race to the Moon (top right), Space Heroes: Amazing Astronauts (middle right), Moonwalk: The First Trip to the Moon (Step-Into-Reading, Step 5) (bottom right), and Neil Armstrong (Rookie Biographies) (middle left). My children also enjoy the Graphic History series, so we have The First Moon Landing (Graphic History) (middle left). 

The readers were great, engaging books for our 3rd-grader, but my favorite of all these books were our two read-alouds, Look to the Stars by Edwin Aldrin (a longer illustrated picture book, bottom left) and Who Was Neil Armstrong? (top left).  It's great reading the words of someone who has actually stepped foot on the moon, and the Who Was... book includes illustrations that help to understand some of the details of the Apollo 11 Mission.

So... that's what our reading looked like. We didn't quite finish all the books because...

...$1,000 worth of Usborne books arrived (which I got for FREE with my hostess/consultant rewards from my Usborne Launch/Facebook Kick-Off Party), and our children read about myths and legends and science and art, and all sorts of other stuff that was NOT memory-work related. So, it was time to set aside my plans and let them devour the books they desperately wanted to read. I've got so much to say about the Usborne thang, but I will save that for a time when I am not traveling the United States with my family.

Other things that happened in our lives in just three (or four) weeks...

...the boys made a zip-line for the dump truck. of the windows in our home was shattered into a bazillion pieces due to... a rock hardness experiment.

...David learned to cook quesadillas.

...Stephen Thomas Edison presented his final Faces of History paper.

...Tommy and Jo and the Kids from Mega Verses visited our itty bitty church (what a blast!)

...I proofed David and Levi (who are not ready for the real thing just yet) with this Memory Work Sticker Book.

...the boys introduced me to the scrabble-type game Quirkle.

...and then it was time to pick up Gary from the airport. WOOHOO! He brought home something extra special:

a Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood guitar! One of his co-workers down in Brazil apparently builds and customizes guitars. Just beautiful!

Finally, I had someone ask me what reading and schoolwork looks like in our home. I've got some random pictures to share...

... we usually hang out in pajamas when we have nowhere to go. (Minimizes laundry.)

And... below, David shows us how to make a word sort with All About Spelling, which is our favorite spelling program. I know some do not like the manipulatives, but it has been perfect especially for David and Levi. What's more, I have learned so much from this program!

So... here's a hodge podge of our lives over the past month. If this post seems haphazardly thrown together, it kind of is. I started it at 12:00 AM before our 4:30 AM wake-up to catch a flight to Los Angeles. And now I am finishing it in Las Vegas as we head to the Monster Jam World Finals. Over the past month, we have made so many connections to our memory work with great books - and now we are doing the same here in real life as we tour the Great American Southwest. I can't wait to share with you our adventure over on this side of the country!

Affiliate links are used in this post.